The Goddess Speaks

By Susan A. Contonwine

Tuesday, April 13, 1999

Rough road
back to ‘work’

NOW that my baby bunchkin is ready for first grade, it's time I reentered the whorish world of job hunting, selling myself to strangers in the hope I'll be offered a demeaning job for which I will be underpaid and underappreciated. The upside is I'll get to pretend I'm grateful. Being a housewife and mother, I should be used to this.

Yet, I'm plagued with nagging problems beginning with the question of exactly how I can reenter the work force with a six-year gap in the resume and expect a job I would actually enjoy, particularly because my employment history prior to motherhood isn't indicative of my unique talents and expertise.

My motivation to find gainful employment comes not from some driving passion to become a worker bee, but stems solely from the fact that duct tape binding my 10-year-old car should be replaced.

A second reason is that it's difficult -- though not impossible -- to justify being a housewife in a small apartment once one's child reaches school age. That is, unless you're obsessive about cleanliness and cook food instead of merely heating it.

Besides, going back to work was always the plan once my child reached school age. Why, many of my women friends had done just that. Except no one told us that if we bowed out of the professional world to have children, we'd suffer hearing loss from the deafening crash of doors slamming.

What kind of job could I do now anyway? It hardly matters since I can't imagine who would hire me after hearing my list of demands. Scenarios incessantly play in my mind. To the prospective employer I say, "I want a four-hour-a-day job, Monday through Friday, absolutely no weekends, no nights. And, I need to have off all school holidays and teacher conference days; I won't be in when my child is sick, and when he stars as a tree in a school play and I want entire summers off.

"And you could pay me about $10 an hour so I can afford the maintenance on the old car and the new wardrobe I'll have to buy since I've worn nothing but sweats the last six years."

EVEN though irrational fears permeate my every waking thought, I pull out my 10-year-old resume. I list the degrees I hold and jobs I've held and realize they in no way represent the many hard lessons I've learned, such as how to handle a soul-sucking boss and still manage to get a decent performance review.

I've also settled disputes among toddlers, pre-schoolers and elementary school-aged kids. I've ended numerous hostile takeovers by older children on the playground.

And there's the financial wizardry. I have decreased our family deficit and sacrificed none of the humanitarian programs. I've proved my motivational talent for stimulating bored whiners (offices are full of them), and like most mothers, I can do all this while talking on the phone, sweeping up Play-Doh crumbs, applying Band-Aids to wounds, and stirring potatoes. I have survived six years as a stay-at-home mom and still have at least one brain cell functioning. Isn't there a special prize for that?

Maybe my biggest fear is I simply won't be able to take any job seriously after having had a taste of what's really important -- the hour-to-hour responsibility of nurturing, educating, protecting and unconditionally loving another human being.

Come to think of it, maybe I should just wait until next year to pursue this job thing. The duct tape holding the car together isn't completely gone yet.

The Goddess Speaks runs every Tuesday
and is a column by and about women, our strengths, weaknesses,
quirks and quandaries. If you have something to say, write it and
send it to: The Goddess Speaks, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, P.O.
Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802, or send e-mail

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