Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Soul-searching for the transitioning SAHM

The world is cruel. Ok, it's not super cruel, but there are some prejudices I think I have silently encountered over the last few years while I have stayed-at-home that I would like to address.

Stopping your career mid-stream to raise your little ones is a:
  1. hurdle in your career
  2. obstacle to overcome
  3. dream come true
  4. necessary evil
  5. a chance to reset & redefine
It is NOT, as I thought, a chance to "redirect in a more lucrative direction" or "pick up where you left off", as I had previously thought! Employers did not see line items on my resume as an asset with a 5-year gap tacked on top of it; they saw my time out as a liability and my previous management experience as a burden if they were to hire me for a 'lesser' position.

I didn't want this to be true, and I didn't really believe it to be true at the outset, because I wasn't requesting an inappropriate salary level, and I wasn't trying to become management right away. But perhaps my experience was intimidating, or too specific. I did all the right things: social media, new skills, keeping up-to-date on current software and strategies, incorporating constructive criticism from headhunters...and at the end of the day I'm just wondering if I wore too much eau de mere. 

Let me sum up the last couple of years of my life so you can gain perspective:
  • worked in music & theater performance
  • then music administration - which led to college music admissions - at the Director level
  • left the job to raise twins in a new city 
  • realizing the niche quality of my previous positions, tried to transition to general college admissions
  • although I received much attention and many [first and second!] interviews, did not secure employment in that area, and frankly, was not really invested in it [at the end of the day, college admissions is TRAVEL. It could be two weeks a year, it could be ten weeks a year. Music and Theater, even at the administrative level, includes nights/weekends. I'm not interested in being away from my family. I needed that #5 RESET & REDEFINE option.]
So I did some soul-searching. I asked myself many questions. I came to many, many answers. 

And finally: ONE answer that did have what I was looking for: 
  1. meaning
  2. inspiration
  3. potential to be lucrative
  4. long term growth potential
  5. family-friendly options for this mom who loves being available for her kids
These, I discovered, were my priorities. Maybe these questions will help you find yours too. Try to answer them each separately, without a need for a running thread between them. There does not have to be a storyline attached to all of them. We are trying to move away from the storyline you have already written for yourself many times. We are changing the plot.

The idea is to wrap our brains around what you are good at, what you are qualified to do, what you want to do, and what you are able to be appropriately compensated for. [I know I'm not supposed to write sentences that end in a preposition, but we didn't ever say TwynMawrMom makes money for writing, now did we? Precisely my point. at which. I'm making... yeah.] And again, none of those things have to match each other (they certainly don't for me), and they also don't necessarily need to correspond to a job that is already in your vocabulary and/or listed on your resume. Don't feel the need to answer them all at once. Take one or two at a time. Take a week for each! Take your time.

Honestly, this is the rest of your life we are talking about. What do you want to do with it now that you've had your babies? 

1. If, God forbid, something happened to my partner, what would I do to support the family/pay the mortgage? What could I do immediately? And what would I want to do if given any time, education & credentials?

2. What am I qualified to do currently?

3. If I wanted to go back for more qualifications or a new certification/education in another area, what would I be interested in studying?

4.  What do I see myself doing when the kids leave the house (like, college-aged)?

5. What do I see myself doing at 60? [Again, does not need to match #4]

6. What is at the core of who I am? Not just what I am passionate about, or good at, but my CORE being. Who am I. What do I wake up in the morning thinking about. What am I motivated by. What gets me running (besides the kids.)?

7. If I had ten hours a week to volunteer at a place, what would it be? (This might be a good opportunity to try some different places in general...) Where would this ten hours of my life be best spent? If your first answer is "the kids' school", which is a totally normal first response for a SAHM, what would your SECOND answer be?

8. What did I like about my job before kids? What did I not like?

9. If I were to be paid half of what I used to make, what hours would I be willing to work and what would I be willing to do? If I were to be paid twice what I used to make, what hours would I be willing to work and what would I be willing to do?

10. What's that thought, in the back of your mind, that's been lying dormant since forever, that you haven't entertained before? That one, there? We've all read the adage, "What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?" Take it one step further: What would you do if no one else knew what you did, ever? If it was just for you and your paycheck to know?



Again, I hope these helped. I'm still figuring all this out for myself. I'll let you know how things progress...

Obviously, it is not full-time blogging, or I wouldn't keep you all waiting months between posts! After the toddler years, life just isn't as exciting, is it? ;) I'll leave you with a *5* year old photo! Egads!! 5 years went by RULL quick.


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