I wish I had a dollar for all the times someone has asked me, “Are you just a mom?”
When my kids were little, I got this question all the time. I didn’t know how to respond. What did that even mean?
Am I just a mom?
I wanted to say, “ Are you just an accountant? Just a teacher? Just a dentist?”
I’ve been a mom for almost 20 years, and in all that time I can honestly say that I was never (not once) just a mom.
Sometimes I’ll hear moms say they’re dishwashers and chauffeurs and tutors and short order cooks.
But they are also managers, CEOs, advisors, and attorneys.
You are not just a mom, although the long days spent wiping snotty noses and changing dirty diapers can trick you into thinking it’s work that will never end.
You don’t have to wish those days away. In the midst of all that has to be done, there are things you can do to bump up the wow factor on your resume.
1) Volunteer. No good work is ever wasted. I spent a decade volunteering at a local hospice, even though I had no desire ever to become a health practitioner myself. Those years taught me how to live well, how to be with people in the midst of their pain, and how to navigate hard conversations—skills I value to this day.
2) Contract a few hours a week. Find extra hours in your day to do something you love—and get paid for it. When I had extra time, I reached out to a mentor of mine to see if there was anything I could do to help her with her own work. Because she was a writer, I was able to assist with research, eventually gaining enough experience to write special features and small articles for our community magazine.
3) Lead something in your community. My husband and I have always attended church. It’s part of our weekly routine, and for a season I coordinated something called Sisters of Support. Basically, the SOS was a network of volunteers commissioned to bring meals to families experiencing hardship in our community. I coordinated the volunteers and supplemented what was needed on a weekly basis by making an extra chicken pot pie or batch of brownies here and there. I was already cooking for my own family, so making extra was no big deal. I led a team of almost 80 volunteers, and I was able to do it all from the comfort of my own kitchen workspace.
4) Find a place to network. I would have gone crazy if I had stayed home all the time. Being a mom is hard work. When my kids were little, I joined my local sorority alumnae group. Each month’s meeting promised the opportunity to meet someone interesting or learn something new. Eventually, I was elected President, and so in addition to the new friendships, I gained valuable leadership experience. Sisterhood doesn’t have to end just because college does!
5) Cultivate hobbies. The worst thing you can do is to spend so much time caring for your kids that you lose yourself. If there’s something you love to do, keep doing it. Just being a mom allowed me the freedom to experiment in the kitchen (I even learned how to use a sous vide), go on long walks (sometimes with a kid—or four—in tow), read books (you can learn a lot from reading children’s books, and I’ve led lots of kid lit book clubs), and practice writing (look, I’m still doing it! :))
Don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re just a mom. There’s something to learn in every season. And even if you don’t incorporate any of the suggestions listed above into your daily routine, I guarantee you’re gaining valuable experience leading people, managing teams, organizing your household, strategizing for the future, and TCB’ing all that other stuff employers think is important.
You’re a rock star! Keep going!