Today was my first day back to work at a paid, regular job in over eight years. I wrote about wanting to do it, and now, I have. It's a bit overwhelming, of course, but it's also more than a bit wonderful. I'm not going to discuss the specifics of my job on here other than to say that it's akin to the career I had before staying home with our second child and puts to use my graduate degree. It's like I took a time-out and am picking up just where I left off. I feel blessed and very, very happy.
But I need to say something more than that, of course, because this is Rox and Roll.
To my sisters who are also home with their children who are also trying to go back to work, know that you can do it. There will be a right job for you at a company who will value your experience. Have patience, and heed the advice I was given by an unbelievably impressive female HR professional who is at the very top of her trade (truly, you might fall out of your chair if you knew who this person is): don't be girlie bout it. Don't make excuses for being home with your kids. Focus on what you've done in the past, and tell the company what you're going to do for them. Be action-oriented, loading your resume and your interview responses with action verbs. Don't waffle, and don't hesitate. Don't "I think" -- be decisive. Don't list the ways being on the PTA has helped you to be bigger and better; focus on your past and your future in your career. And prepare, prepare, and prepare more -- prepare for interviews, prepare for writing cover letters, prepare by reading industry publications and by talking to folks in your business. More importantly than anything: ask for mentorship. A female start-up CEO (also huge and OMG impressive) rewrote my resume with me and prepped me for interviews, hard-core style -- and the awesome HR friend put my resume through the ringer again and also coached me on what might be the best fit job for my personal goals. She heard what I was considering and offered insights on roles that I might've dismissed, thinking I was underqualified or overmatched. In other words, surround yourself with hardworking, successful women -- especially moms -- who are already there, and ask them for the advice you know you need. They will never turn you down; they'll be flattered, and then you can pay it forward by helping another mom find her way back. We are all in the sorority of motherhood, and we can all help to lift each other up when needed. (This is not to say that stay at-home moms need to be lifted up -- I'm only addressing moms who want to return to work here, supporting their desires and offering no judgment of those who make different choices.) Fundamentally, know that you can have kids, stay at home to raise them, see them off to school, and still return to work -- and be a valued contributor to a place that knows it's lucky to have you.
Today, I checked a big, huge box for myself -- it's probably one of the most significant dozen or so days of my entire life to date. Because for me, and for my family, I wanted my kids, at a young age but old enough to know that I stayed at home with them, see me dress up, take a briefcase in hand, and leave for the day -- and I also wanted them to see that Daddy can pick them up from school and deal with snacks and homework and sports practices and dinner. I wanted them to see that we both can do the same things, and that regardless of our specific roles at any point in time, we'll still love and care for them the same way -- even when the day comes when we're both working full-time outside the home. I wanted them to see that there is no "mold," no one way of doing things -- that mommies and/or daddies can stay home, that mommies and/or daddies can go to work, and that kids will be happy and fulfilled no matter what the combination. Today, I checked that box, and it felt GREAT!