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Having children took me away from my career, I depend on my spouse

  • It’s been over three years since I’ve had a full-time job.
  • Being a stay-at-home parent was never my plan, and it’s the equivalent of having two and a half jobs.
  • I tried to find a job, but the constant rejection got to me.

“What do you like about yourself? A simple question that I just couldn’t answer.

I was in my second round of interviews for what seemed like the perfect job after my nearly four-year absence from the job market largely caused by motherhood. I found myself stuttering and spouting filler words, unable to piece together anything from my prepared talking points. Although I reached the last round of interviews, I was not hired.

Raising two little boys during a pandemic, an interstate move, and my eldest being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder didn’t leave me much time for self-reflection. I’ve been turned down numerous times since I started my job search, but being rejected after reaching this seemingly ideal role was a huge blow considering all the setbacks I’ve already faced in my career.

I didn’t plan to be a stay-at-home parent

I became a stay-at-home mom by accident in the fall of 2018. I was a web producer for a true detective series that was canceled shortly before my son was born, so there was no work to resume after. maternity leave.

Before working in television, I had a fulfilling career writing online news. Some people called my job loss a “blessing in disguise,” but the isolation, repetitive days, and lack of intellectual stimulation made me feel like all the work I had done before starting a family had served no purpose, and that my professional work identity would never recover.

I finally hired a babysitter and started taking freelance gigs. As I cultivated a new body of work and felt like I had stabilized my career, the pandemic hit and I was pregnant with my second son. I put the writing on hold to get through the first year of the pandemic and then to plan our move from California to Oregon.

During this time, my resume has become stale, and even those willing to take a chance on me might not be willing to pay what I earned four years ago, when I was a working professional for quite a while. part of the decade.

Being a full-time parent is work

Just because I don’t get paid doesn’t mean I don’t work. According to a 2018 study, stay-at-home moms take on a huge workload, juggling the equivalent of two and a half full-time jobs.

Unpaid work — cleaning, meal planning, appointment management, laundry — is often undervalued by strangers, further eroding my confidence while drowning me in to-do list items.

Erin Hatton, an associate professor in the University at Buffalo’s sociology department who studies various work inequalities, wrote in an email to Insider that because society devalues ​​these kinds of household contributions, full-time parents can feeling “frustrated and even stigmatized because they’re seen as not really working in a culture that puts work first.”

One reason not to ask a stay-at-home parent what they do all day.

With exorbitant childcare costs, partly due to the shortage that has lasted for years, sending children to daycare before finding a job is not an option for most mothers in the same situation as me. Also, not all jobs pay enough to warrant childcare.

“For so many women, childcare costs exceed or barely equal their salary, so they decide to leave the workforce,” Hatton said. “Maybe they’re trying to make a side buck somehow because they’re working full time from home, leaving them overworked and underemployed.”

When asked what I liked about myself during my failed job interview, there was a single nugget of consistency in my awkward answer: “Moms are marathon runners, dads are sprinters. I I’m a marathon runner, and I believe slow and steady wins the race.”

I had to know in my heart that I wouldn’t get the job, but I will rehabilitate my professional life again. I just need a little more time.

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