Wednesday, May 12, 2010

To Whom It May Concern

Every now and then, I get so frustrated with being a stay-at-home mom that I start to fantasize about going back to work. I’ve been home since October 2004, a few months before Grace was born, when I conveniently got laid off from a job I absolutely despised. My back-to-work fantasies never last too long, as I always quickly remember that I have hated just about every job I’ve ever had. If I liked the job, I couldn’t stand my boss. If I liked my boss, I detested my co-workers. If I liked my co-workers, I loathed my job. Occasionally, it was the trifecta of employment disappointment, disliking the job, the boss AND the co-workers. And always, always, always have I been disappointed with my salary.

Sometimes I mentally begin to rewrite my resume, wondering how most effectively to package my “skills” so as to sell myself to future employers who hopefully will hire me in spite of myself. I’ve given it a fair amount of thought and have decided that, when the time comes to work again, a resume probably won’t help me. So I’ve decided to omit the resume and go for a strong cover letter. It will read something like this:

Dear Sir/Ma’am:

I’ve been home raising multiple kids for a lot of years now. My husband is in the Army, so we’ve always moved around a lot and, even when I was actually employed, I was always at the mercy of the local conditions – usually small towns in the middle of nowhere offering mediocre positions for which I was overqualified and underpaid, which I would always take just to have something to do. So, in lieu of a resume, which would probably understate my abilities, interests and hopes, let me tell you a little bit about myself and you can decide if I sound like someone worth employing.

I’m a good sport. I’ve moved seven times in less than 12 years, covering a foreign country and five states. To further expound upon what a good sport I am, the most recent move was four houses up the street, in the midst of a blizzard, when I was good and pregnant. Almost all of the moves have included three cats – none of whom travel well - and a few moves have included various numbers of children. Throughout the last 12 years, I have found time and again that there’s not much that I can’t do.

I am adventurous. Once, when Mike was deployed and I was going stir-crazy after a long winter in the house with the kids, I embarked on a four-week, 3600-mile road trip up and down the East Coast, with a 14-month-old and a three-year-old. We slept in six states, visiting various friends and family, and everyone lived to tell the story. I did this without a GPS, because I am a big fan of charting my own course (and I have problems asking for help).

I am honest to a fault and am not afraid to say what’s unpopular. As examples: once, in a job interview, I answered the question “What did you like most about your last job?” with the response, “Lunch.” (If there’s any curiosity, I didn’t get that job.) I also think Americans should pay higher taxes. That’s right, I actually said it. Higher taxes.

I have a good sense of humor. One time, when looking out my balcony window, I saw my neighbor place a bouquet of flowers in a bucket behind my car. I didn’t know what he was doing. Later, when my husband came home from work, he was carrying the same flowers. He’d probably already been in trouble for something, hence the flowers. I asked him some questions about the flowers, allowing him to fess up that he didn’t actually buy them himself, yet he only dug his hole deeper. I finally told him I knew he didn’t buy them, and that he’d passed off the job to the neighbor. Not to bore you with the details, but I am still married. Apparently, I am also forgiving.

I am resourceful. I once talked my way out of a speeding ticket in Poland, with broken German to a Polish police officer. I also was able to catch a neighbor’s escaped pet rabbit (outdoors) several times. If this doesn’t impress you, I recommend trying to catch a free-range rabbit with your bare hands. Good luck.

I know a little about a lot of things. Not only can I identify four types of cockroaches (there was the Asian cockroach I met in our bathtub in Missouri, the water roach I’ve come to know here in Kansas, the common American roach that everyone who has ever worked in a restaurant or supermarket has met, and the much larger, scarier Madagascar hissing cockroach that I hope none of us will ever encounter except from behind a glass cage at the zoo), I also can tell you quite a bit about the Communist Party of Nepal’s uprising against the Nepalese monarchy (I do a lot of editing for my husband). Obviously, I am well versed and, as evidenced by the roach knowledge, have a strong stomach.

I’m what I would classify as a Jill-of-all-Trades. My home duties include but are not limited to: budget analyst/finance manager, accounting, event coordinator/party planner, travel agent, nursing with specialization in feline and pediatric care, head chef/baker, indoor and outdoor maintenance/landscaping, chauffeur/taxi service, teacher, editor, interior design, personal escort specializing in military functions, personal shopping, laundry and janitorial service, and manual labor including heavy lifting and packing.

Some prior paid work experience includes positions in editing, accounting and very, very brief stints with the 2000 census and Avon.

References (and eyewitnesses, in many cases) available, upon request.



It’s probably a good thing we’re so accustomed to life on one income. I wonder how long it will take me, once employed again, to long for the days when I was just a stay-at-home wife/mom. After all, it is the job from which I've learned the most, and from which I've earned the most. And, with my current job, I am mostly my own boss and I really like my co-worker. And I enjoy the job immensely, too, despite its challenges. So I guess it's not so bad...without ever realizing it, I may have achieved the trifecta of employment satisfaction in a job I never strived for. Although I still wish the monetary compensation was better.