Feb 16, 2011

Resume? Seriously? I'm a mother--I can do it all

I am so excited that Mrs. G commented on my blog that I'm floating. 
She is a very savvy woman, and she brought up the supreme point that her years spent mothering make a crappy resume for employers.
I know where she is coming from.
But the employers are wrong.
I've had three paying jobs since becoming a mother, and let's just say that while the titles were different the jobs are all about the same.
All the jobs have required me to be pleasant, whether I feel pleasant or not, organization, decision-making, and drudgery.  Most importantly, though, all the jobs have required my mothering skills, especially that last one.
The most valuable skills I learned being a mother were these: distraction, negotiation,and re-direction.
These skills are in constant use due to the simple fact that I work with other people.
I work for one of the few places left in America where you get a real person to answer the phone.  We pride ourselves on this when it's a customer that calls.
Sadly, about 30% of the calls I answer these days are from recordings.  This is not a good plan from a practical standpoint if you want people to listen to you. Most of them come from collection agencies who have been smacked down (by yours truly) for calling a business phone during business hours and don't want to get fined again.  Apparently there is some loop hole that makes it not count if it's a recording that violates that rule again and again.  The others are seasonal and usually from political candidates.  Of both parties.  I have sent all offenders strongly worded e mails.  They haven't seemed to notice.  Yet.  The money spent of these calls and the trash they send through the mail is one of my personal targets to de-fund.  But I digress.

So, with all these calls ringing in, none of which are usually for me (just like home) things can get kind of hectic.  If I hadn't been following up on all those kids all those years, I would never remember to nag remind my "people" of all the appointments they need to keep and calls they may not have remembered to return.
I also try to keep some candy around all the time.  Guess where I learned this?  This way, if someone comes up and is having a hard day you can listen quickly, throw some chocolate at them, and send them on their way.  They are usually so happy to see the chocolate they don't realize you are hurrying them on their way, and if they do, well, the chocolate serves as a happy distraction and they forgive you.  They will be back, it should go without saying, but you are there everyday anyway and you just never know what a day will bring.  Chocolate is never inappropriate.
Also, people sometimes come in the front door.  Not a lot of people who shouldn't but the occasional new salesman.  To my eternal consternation, we now have companies who send people out to find new customers in areas that are already serviced by these same companies.  It is pretty hard to be the one to break it to the enthusiastic new recruit that we already have a representative, yes, from your same company.  It's very embarrassing for them. I have to help them through the moment when they realize they have wasted their time, energy, and possibly money to work for a company who either doesn't know, or doesn't care that they are sending them on a fool's errand.  It's not easy.  Kind of like the first time your child figures out they have been played for a fool.  By a jerk.  Chocolate does not hurt in this situation, but you have to walk a tightrope because clearly you are not being paid to comfort strange salespersons.  A cheerful tone of voice and the assumption that there must have been a mistake is the quickest way to get them moving right back out the door again, hopefull with their pride intact.  The repeat offenders I give the old "firing lasers out of my eyes" look.  I assume you remember this look from your own mother and it need not be explained further here.  It is a universal look recognized by all, not least traveling salespersons.  Hilariously, this works much better on men than women.  Women think they can see my laser eyed look and raise me a business card.  I take it, give them my steel door look and ask if they have anything they would like to leave.  They fold, but not because they are weak, because they are smart, and recognize steel when they see it.  That may just be the last dregs of my hope for women not to embarrass me anymore talking right there.  So be it.  I grew up nurturing that dream and I'll go down nurturing that same dream.  Along the way maybe someone will notice.

With all that going on, I am also expected to do actual work, fitting it in around the phone and various and sundry persons coming through the front door.
Now, anywhere you have people you have personalities.  These are not carefully examined and matched before you go to work (although that is a great idea), so you have to muddle through the best way you can.  My method is to try to just skip along the tops of the waves and not get too involved.  Failing that, I try to keep my mouth shut and keep working.  This is not a hugely popular choice, except for with the people who actually pay you.  I take it as a mark of my mothering skills that I can get up and walk down the hallway, sending people skittering back to their desks behind me.  This is a most valuable skill, and one that all mothers have.
Recently we had someone fall on the ice in the parking lot.  Every mother in the place went to see the victim, checked their eyes, asked if they felt nauseous and warned them to tell us if they felt sleepy.  There was no need to consult a book, we mothers knew what to do.  The victim recovered just fine.
One day the toner broke all over the floor.  Did I stand around and wait for a janitor to clean it up?  Don't be silly, I am well acquainted with the business end of a shop vac.  Years of cleaning floors qualified me to take control of the situation immediately.  It was less mess, if you can believe it, than most of the meals my children flung to the floor.  And I got paid to clean the toner up!  Win-win.
Somebody's in a bad mood, somebody's sick, somebody's sad, somebody's excited and can't concentrate.  Am I talking about my own breakfast table in the morning or work?  What's the difference?  One I not only get paid to deal with--I am not emotionally involved in!

I am telling you, if you want a good employee who shows up most every day, who can and will roll with the punches, who is not above doing the dirty work, and who is used to doing all this for free, hire a mother!  Mothers will not let you down.  Mothers will not shirk responsibility.  Mothers keep a drawer of candy for the bad days.  Most importantly, mothers intuitively recognize the shortest and simplest answers to any question, and are not afraid to implement it, giving you peace and quiet so that you can get some work done.