I must be getting targeted on social media, because I’ve been receiving a ton of articles about the issues facing parents (especially women) in the workforce. One of my character defects that I hope improves is that I’m pretty apathetic about issues that don’t affect me directly. Any parenting issues are relatively new to me (3.5 years to be specific) and I’ll just state flat out that I think Mommy Wars are stupid for many reasons, not the least of which is that I am pretty much firmly in EVERY camp! Breastfeeding? Yup. Formula? Yup! C-Section? Yup! Natural – woulda. Stay at home? Yup. Work? Yup. I read Lean In when I only had one baby and a flexible job and I was like “YEAH….LET’S LEAN!!!” Then I had twins 18 months later and I was “They outnumber us! I’m tired! My husband is tireder…I can’t even stand, let alone lean!” I choose to believe, as I’ve said before, that everyone is doing the best that they can and the ones that aren’t are the only ones who should be judged and thrown into a ball pit with ten three-year olds.
So all that to say, I don’t have a political agenda on working, not working or anything else. However, for Moms who do want to work outside the home, there is a HUGE double standard in place. I think I can say this with some authority because a) I worked in Human Resources for almost twenty years b) I have been privy to what executives REALLY think about parents in the work place and c) I have firsthand experienced the double standard. It is this gigantic elephant in the middle of the room wearing no clothes and everyone is too busy drinking the Kool-Aid to say anything (Like those mixed metaphors?). The problem is that we are running our companies as though all our employees were men from the 1950’s with full time ‘wifey-poos’ at home to take care of LIFE. The further someone deviates from this expectation of dedication and availability, the less likely they are to succeed. We women get the opportunity to bang our heads against and sometimes through the glass ceiling only to the extent that we a) don’t have kids or b) act like we don’t care if we spend time with them.
I say, let’s break these chains! Let’s stop hiding our super powers under a bushel because we’re afraid they label us too Mommy-ish. What if we told it like it really is during the job interview? Just imagine?
Tell me about a time you dealt with conflict and what you’ve learned from it.
Well, my child is three and only wants to wear underwear (the same pair. Every day) and not comb her hair. She also wants to go out in public with me. I love her and don’t want her taken away by CPS so I daily have to face the battle of trying to impart the logic that if you want to come with me you have to wear clothes and comb your hair OR you can choose to stay home, to a person who does not grasp logical premise. This results in a 30-40 minute free for all including tears, room time and shrieking, and the three year old gets pretty worked up as well.
I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to be the boss and not expect everyone to like your decisions. I’ve learned that sometimes people make bad choices that prevent their achieving their goals and that backing down to a person who doesn’t use logic doesn’t usually end well.
What is the most difficult situation you’ve ever dealt with, and what have you learned from it?
I would have to say the time a boss gave me a really hard assignment and I almost didn’t complete it…oh, no wait…that’s not it. Oh yeah, it was the NINETY-SIX HOUR labor! Yes! The one where my doctor was mad at me for wanting a natural childbirth so wouldn’t let them give me an epidural until I begged. And then the emergency c-section after it turned out I didn’t tolerate epidurals well and I couldn’t see my baby for 2 hours after that and didn’t get skin time and didn’t know if she was okay or if I was. Yeah, that was probably it. But the hard assignment was tough too.
I learned that things happen that I’m not in control of and if I dwell on what didn’t happen I get right out of gratitude for what did. I learned that a strong team (in this case, me and my husband) gets each other through anything and you do what you have to to get to the goal.
Tell me about a time you had multiple priorities and what you did about it?
Well, when I am with all three of the kids at once there is Grace, who likes me to read her stories and not let the babies see the pages. She’d prevent their hearing the words, but hasn’t figured out how to pull that off. Aiden/Adam likes to dance along when I sing his favorite book and Ben’s favorite activity is try to cause as much destruction to himself and the surrounding environment in as short a time as possible. While all this is going on, I usually have 3-5 resumes to write and an employee handbook or two. And I see my husband’s stuff lying around so I’m pretty sure he still lives here and wouldn’t mind some time too.
I have developed an exceptional ability to accurately gauge what is needed for any given task and how long it will take. I know exactly how long it takes me to do things and I innately am able to take care of more things in any given hour than you would believe is possible. I have also made a conscious decision to be in the moment. This means that my kids get 100% of me when they get me and when I’m doing a project that is where I’m focused (Unless there is blood. Then I’m sorry, but that comes first). AND…I can read one book WHILE singing another AND (usually) preventing anyone from belly flopping off the couch.
Have you ever had a situation where you were criticized? What did you do about it?
Yes! One time I worked for hours to make a beautiful experience for my daughter who screamed for twenty minutes because it wasn’t up to her expectation and then went into her room and wouldn’t talk to me for an hour. I have a wonderful professional example that is almost identical but I can’t write it without sounding mean-spirited so I will abstain (cue the harps, please).
My response was to wait until the freaker-outer was out of earshot and throw something breakable and say words I’m not allowed to say in their presence (in both cases). And then to ask myself if there was anything I could have done differently (there wasn’t) and to realize their unrealistic expectations were out of my control and I could only wait until their emotions were back under control and try again.
Is there anything that would keep you from being 100% focused on this position and can you travel extensively and work exceedingly long hours?
BAHAHAHAHA…oh wait, are you serious? What? WHY do you have a job that would demand this of someone? No, I do not want to sacrifice my entire life to make your company profitable. I’m willing to contribute and be part of something, but I’m already part of something else – it’s called, um…my FAMILY. Are you sure you can’t make use of my skills or experience in less of an ‘all or nothing’ capacity? No? You need me onsite in person 12 hours a day 5 days a week? With regular travel? You’re right, this is probably not a good fit.
And there, I think, is the crux of it. Although if someone has managed a household and especially a baby, toddler, teenager or the equivalent they have most certainly overcome almost anything the corporate environment could throw at them, all over America we are losing out on this wisdom and problem solving because our jobs require someone to BE THERE all the time. I wonder if maybe the probl
m is with our work structures and expectations and not with the candidates. But what do I know? I’m just a sleep deprived ‘former somebody’ (who’s everybody to some bodies and that’s a pretty cool job).