Resuming a Resume

After being at home raising kids for the past 25 years, I am looking for a part-time job. All I’m looking for is some entry-level, part-time work somewhere, so I never thought that having a resume would be necessary. It turns out that this was one of the many things I don’t know about getting a job in the 21st century.

My last job was actually in the last century! I know enough to not put that on a resume. I worked in an office in 1991, which allowed me to hone a pretty special skill-set. I’m talking adding machine (including changing the roll of paper), electric typewriter proficiency, filing actual paper into actual folders, and I am swift and sure with a microfiche machine. I can do carbon copies in triplicate and answer up to five telephone lines.peggy-olson

Okay, so no one is going to hire me based on these abilities, however impressive. I will have to rely on the skills I have learned living life and raising kids. What have I learned? What do I have to offer someone out there in the world? I’ve thought about it a lot and I came up with a list.

  1. Making lists. I make thorough lists, especially if I dread doing the things on the list.
  2. Conflict resolution: Raising six kids will turn even the most average human into King Solomon. I’ve never had to cut anything in half, but neither did he. Because we both knew how to make this work. (What was that other woman going to do with half a baby anyway?)
  3. Anticipating needs: I am practically clairvoyant in this area. If I just mopped, a 2- liter of something will need me to clean it up within the next 24 hours. Did I just sit down? Someone will be out of toilet paper in the downstairs bathroom. (See also #5)
  4. Trouble shooting: 46 years on the planet has taught me some things the hard way. Don’t close the bathroom door if you are going to put lotion on your hands. Butter will make a band-aid slide off pain-free. A hair straightener is as good as an iron in a pinch.
  5. Allocation of resources: I locate and resupply the toilet paper every time. Every time.
  6. Negotiating: You get to go to your room. You get to sit down and hush. Something for everyone.
  7. Human resources: Like most moms, I can size a person up by the state of their shoes and hair. This will certainly be as helpful to someone else as it has been to me.
  8. Project management: I hid a candy bar and a $5 bill in your room. If you clean up long enough, you will find them. Nice doing business with you.
  9. Budgeting: I have put together three weddings with virtually no money whatsoever. Need a cheap but beautiful wedding. I got you. Need a Halloween costume? Pick what you want to be and I can make it happen without buying a thing.

Moms learn a lot being moms. It’s boot camp, trial-by-fire, on-the-job training. According to articles on the internet, moms should include these skills when making a resume. According to other articles on the internet, moms should not try to be cute by listing these soft skills on a resume. Sigh…Hang in there Mommas. Even if these skills are never recognized by the marketplace, their value in the lives of your children can’t be measured. We may not look good on paper, but we do God’s work.

Having it All

A re-post for Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day!

First off, I have to apologize for using the most overused title in all of women’s literature. For many reasons, this is a subject that is often discussed and will never be resolved. Women ask me all the time, “How do you do it all?” For the people who really know me, this is a funny question because I don’t really do that much. It is a lot of smoke and mirrors, truly. This is especially true compared to the women who came before me.

I have six kids. My mom had seven. From the time she was 22, until the time she was 53, she had children that needed raising. She had no formal college degree and no work experience to speak of, even well into her 30′s. But when my dad finished his education and went to work for the IRS, he was not allowed to work a second job, so Mom went to work outside the home. She applied at a Piece Goods store, something she knew about because she sewed all our clothes for years. That was the beginning of my mom’s life as a “working mom.” It was the 70′s. She was not alone.

I’m about to turn 39 in a few days. The first time I was aware of my mother’s age was at her 39th birthday. I was five years old. My youngest is now five. This was near the beginning of her working mom days. I have never been to college or had a job. Well, not since I filed and answered phones for an insurance office my senior year in high school. I have wondered if I could do what she did, and she would say, “of course you would if you had to, like I did.” But becoming the manager of a store is not exactly having it all, granted.

My mother circa 1965ish

Later, my shy mother would take on a sales job that was totally out of her range of experience. She would go on to be very successful at her job, even making more money than my dad for a few years. It was the 80′s. She was not alone in this either. I was entering my teens and I knew my mother did not like this job most of the time, but she was very good at it nonetheless. It was a time when we needed that income for college for my sisters and all the things teenagers need. I really don’t think I could do that, but she would tell me I could, if I had to, like she did. But again, a door to-door, drive-all-over-the-territory, fill-out-Saturday-paperwork job ain’t exactly having it all, I know.

In 1988, when I was 17, Mom landed the perfect job for her. She became a tour guide for a local bus tour company. Mom has said many times that raising seven children uniquely prepared her for leading retirees around all over the country. She got to travel and make money doing it. She got to take my dad with her occasionally and she got to visit her children and grandchildren around the country. She was loved by everyone who traveled with her. She had been preparing for this all her life, raising children, managing a store, going door to door until the shyness was no more. She was in her 50′s and she got to see the country and have a great time doing it. This I’m sure I could not do, no matter what you say, Mom.

My mom is a praying woman who leaves the worries of this life to a mighty God. She was 39 like me, with no IRA, no 401k, probably not even money in a jar anywhere. Now she has been retired from the travel job for years. At 70 years old, she and my dad celebrated 50 years of marriage. She enjoys her grandchildren, bakes cookies, visits the nursing homes, gets her nails done, and does needlework. That may not be your dream, but it is the very definition of fulfillment for her. At no one time did she “have it all” but if you add it all up now, it is more than she ever dreamed.

Knowing all this history about my mom has always helped me not to panic about what I don’t know or haven’t done yet. I feel sure there is a plan for me and I try to stay ready for what I am meant to do. I’m pretty sure, I’m meant to have it all.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jer. 29:11

Missing You – Dinner for Six in the Emptying Nest

I only get out six plates for dinner now. I used to have to think through who was working or out with friends and then do a little math, ending up with six or seven or eight. Now I just get out six plates. This is not enough and it will always be a little bit sad. Another daughter has already moved out.  She didn’t plan to, but daughter #2 slowly weaned us off her presence by being gone more and more. Turns out to be a merciful way to adjust.

One month ahead of her wedding, she moved out to what will be their apartment together. My oldest moved out after her wedding, so this was new for me. Her apartment complex looks so nice from the road. Is this a good thing or does it make her a target for burglars? There are lots of people milling about around there. Is this a good thing or does it mean more possible criminals to keep an eye on? Everyone around her seems nice, but you know it’s always the nice quiet neighbors who end up on the news. These are the crazy thoughts that play tag in my head when I visit her.

As for the weddings that lead to all this moving out, I don’t think I can write on and on with wedding advice. Weddings are like babies; the first one makes you frightened and full of plans and advice,big on schedules and obsessive to details. The second one just makes you realize how much you don’t know, how much help you need, and how tired you are. Especially if you have two in one year. See? Just like babies. So fitting that it works this way with my first two babies. Their weddings will be a reflection of their very different personalities. Annie’s was bigger, including anyone and everyone. It was spring and pastel and in the big woods. Lydia’s will be smaller, intimate, with warm colors and inside a small chapel – downright cozy on a fall day. Like with children, one is not better than the other, just very different.

One very incorrect assumption I’ve run into is that I don’t miss one child because there are so many left. Of course this is not true. Each child leaves a void when they go. I will always miss them. I miss every stage of them. I miss little pudgy Lydia and grown woman Lydia. At least I can call and visit woman Lydia. Then there’s the bonus of her husband-to-be. He is the perfect fit for our crazy family. We could use another brother or two around here, so we are loving the addition of two big brothers in one year. Even if they are to blame for this emptying nest.

pudgy Lydia

When you are falling in love, you hear every song as a love song. When your kids are moving out, you start to hear things differently. I have always loved the song “Missing You” by Amy Grant. It always seemed like a melancholy song about lost love. Now I’m thinking Amy penned this one when her first child moved away. Listen to the lyrics and see if you agree. Yes, I know that is not Amy Grant, it is Alanis Morrissette, but it is the only link I could find. Looking at her face while listening to a very tame Amy Grant will just have to serve as comic relief for this sad song. Isn’t is ironic? 

I Think I Can Talk About It Now – Wedding Lessons

Aaand….they’re off!

Over three months have passed since my oldest daughter got married. It has taken that long for me to get clear on what happened and what I learned from all of it. There were so many intense lessons of a practical and emotional nature. Hindsight is not 20/20 in my case. So much of it is still a blur. I’m deeply indebted to the moms that were ahead of me on the wedding path that gave me all the advice I could take in.  Now it’s my turn to pass on some of what I learned. In this post, I will focus on the emotional lessons. These are the things I learned in conversations; things they don’t put on the timelines and the checklists even thought they should. These are just for the MOB’s out there, especially the DIY-ers, who need a heads-up like I did.

You may be sitting alone at your daughter’s wedding. Chances are, your family will all be in the wedding – everyone but you! You might want to arrange for your parents to be sitting with you rather than behind you. If you are married to your daughter’s father, he will eventually join you, but be prepared to be seated alone while you watch your family participate in the ceremony.

I was so worried about crying too much. I am an easy crier, at weddings especially. The best advice I received, hands down, was to cry myself out before the big day. A wise friend told me to give in to the crying whenever I felt it coming on. On the drive out to the venue the day before the wedding, I was alone and thinking of how it would all soon be over. These thoughts led to tears and I remembered my friend’s advice. I pulled over in the parking lot of a tiny church and cried and cried. It was probably the most I have ever cried because I was alone, so I didn’t have to worry about anyone being concerned over my distress. More than that, I think I gave in to it so completely because I had permission and a legitimate reason to let it flow and cleanse all the tension and sadness. Let me tell you, it worked wonders! On the day of the wedding I barely shed a tear. I was free to be joyful because I had mourned already. Trust me – give in to the big cry.

Be sure to take a moment with the bride’s father to marvel at the beauty and wonder that is your daughter. Everything changes after this day, but you two will always be her parents. Embrace the transformation and really watch it all change right before your eyes.

You and your daughter may have been working as a team toward a mutual goal for several months. As soon as the reception starts to wind down, that is all over and you two are at cross purposes. She wants to leave. You want her to stay a little longer. Worse yet, she has an accomplice that likely wanted to leave an hour ago. This stings more than a little, to see the people you went to all this trouble for making a dash for the door. Brace yourself and try to remember when it was you. That helped me a little.

too late to say goodbye

Plan your goodbye time. We failed to plan and it all ended awkwardly with talk of paying vendors and taking care of business. A meaningful goodbye takes a little planning. You want your own private goodbye before the happy couple does the photo-op goodbye.

It all goes by in a blur. One moment I was deliriously happy that the ceremony was perfect and everyone I loved was in the same room and my daughter was so happy. The next, everyone was leaving, all 200 plates are dirty, and I was more tired than I can ever remember being. Make sure you have not depleted all your help before the wedding. Reserve a couple of friends to stay with you until the work is all done. I let all my hard-working friends go home when they offered to help. That left me, my husband, and two sisters to undo what it took months to pull together. I put this under the emotional tips because it was very depressing to suddenly be alone with so much to do. I had imagined a big after-party with music playing, dish washing and laughing….nope. You have to plan that too if it’s going to happen.

Remains of the Day

Then you are home and your life can get back to normal. Whatever that was. Only, you may find you don’t like normal anymore. There’s something addictive about having a project and a deadline. It took the wind out of my sails to be left with nothing pressing to do. Have a plan for this too. Buy a book to read or plan a little get away for you and your husband. Have something to look forward to after the wedding is over.

A few days ago, my second oldest daughter got engaged and they are planning a November wedding! Two weddings in one year – no problem, right? Most likely, I will need a lot more advice. Hopefully, I will learn many more lessons. If I can retain any of it, I will pass it on. In the meantime. say a prayer for us. It’s not easy realizing I am nearly done with my part of raising His child.

On the Small Chance You Were Wondering….

My inspiration...I need a headset

I’m stopping here real quick to explain my absence from my blog. I had one reader encourage me not to give up just because I took flak for my last posts. I hadn’t thought about how it would look like that to people who don’t know what is going on with me. I am not discouraged over my last post. I am wedding planning for my daughter. It is coming down to the wire now and I don’t want to look back with any regrets on how I spent my time planning or my remaining time with my whole family.

So I’m on hiatus from the blog now and look forward to getting back to writing. I’m not sure how much good blogging is for the people reading, but it sure is good for the writer. It is so therapeutic, I look forward to getting back to it. If you think of me, send up a prayer that I help with this wedding with patience and grace.

What do I know?

Wait...what?

My last post caught some flak from working moms who thought I was coming down on them. I changed my post to reflect the fact that I can only speak to stay-at-home moms. I don’t know anything about being a mom who also has to work outside the home. In the midst of the flak, a friend told me that the tone of my blog makes me sound like a know-it-all. Ouch! I told her, and I want to tell anyone else who cares, that I hate giving an apologetic opinion. I don’t want to qualify every post with a “that’s just my opinion” ending. I hope that it is understood that every post is just my opinion.

When I was a young mother, I wanted the security of someone sold on their advice and experience. No one wants to get advice from someone who only mildly believes what she is saying. If we waited till we knew everything, we could never help each other. so, I started to wonder, what do I know for sure?  What opinions would I defend hotly in the face of opposition? So, here is what I have so far:

I know, but trust me.

If you eat pancakes for breakfast, and only pancakes, you will feel like crap the rest of the morning. Maybe the whole day. Syrup only makes this more true. If you drink orange juice with this “meal”, you might as well call in sick.

The risk outweighs to benefits when it comes to airshows, as in the shows with planes doing tricks. Unless it is the Blue Angels or the Thunderbirds, I”m talking military, precision professionals, stay home.

step away from the scissors

Unless you are a hairdresser, your hair will not come out right if you cut it yourself. Even a little bit. If you have the skills, you probably don’t have the very expensive professional scissors needed to do the magic they do. We are dependent on them.  Sad but true.

You shouldn’t put away your winter clothes until Memorial Day weekend. It will get cold again, just to mess with you.

Revlon Colorstay lipstick in Everlasting Rum color is the best lipstick. That was not a paid endorsement, as much as I wish it was. It is just true. If you put it on in the morning, it will still be there in the evening.

I leave out other things, like God and Jesus and love and life and parenting because what is fact and what is opinion gets really fuzzy from person to person. Of course I would defend the facts about God and Jesus, regardless of someone’s opinion.And I want to believe that what works for me in my home is factual. But when it comes down to how I live and the choices I make, I am a fan of my life and how it has turned out so far. I want to spread the excitement about what has turned out good and warn others away from what has not. These are the things I know. They are silly and few. I wanted to let everyone know that writing about it doesn’t mean I think I have all the answers. I just have a few. They were given to me, so I feel I should pass them on to you. Thanks for humoring me as I pay all that forward.

A Shout-Out to my Friends

face time

It has been a crazy couple of weeks at my house. My husband started a new full-time job, after being self-employed from home for two years. Our water heater was on the fritz so he had to spend his first free weekend working on that. This led to a plumbing problem, which led to a basement flood, which led to a massive clean-up for me when the weekend was over. I have wanted to get some exercise and get things cleaned up. I got a lot of both.

When things go wrong in your life, big or small, you learn who your friends are. Friends make up the silver lining of any dark cloud. I had friends who were very caring and helpful. I even learned the benefit of sharing my problems. In this case, whining to a friend on the phone allowed her to offer her three dehumidifiers that were so helpful in drying out our basement. Who knew she was the owner of three dehumidifiers? She did, and I’m glad I shared our problem so we could receive her help.

I miss my friends. I have really buckled down over the holidays and after, getting all the shopping done, getting back to school here, and staying in because the weather is so grim. I have a great group of ladies that I can count on. I don’t talk to any one person everyday, but I know I could if I needed to. I used to think I needed that one best friend to do anything and everything with, but I have learned that no one person can be all that for you and you can’t be that for them. When it comes to friends, it takes a village.

If my friends were a village, it would be the best village ever. My friend with the secret stash of dehumidifiers is so upbeat and smiling and sweet. This is in great contrast to my sensible, cynical self. Her presence is a reminder to act as open and friendly as I feel on the inside, like she does.

I have, not one, but two friends who will let me know if the people on Fox news say it is time to climb out of this handbasket of a world that is headed to Hell. They are on top of what is going on which allows me to keep my head happily in the sand most of the time. These two ladies also are packing. As in carry and conceal. So, you know, they’ve got my back, and yours too if you want.

I have a friend that I have been close to since the 9th grade. She was in my wedding and I was in hers. I still go and see her and relax in her beautiful home. We pick up where we left off, even though it takes some time to figure out where that was. She never feels the need to mentor me or for me to mentor her. We are equals that go way back and it is a great way to relate to each other. With her I have history and a million stories that I treasure.

My church friends have a special place in the village. Then there are my friends who like to watch the shows I watch or listen to the music I love. There are friends who can and will edit my writing for me. (Is “shout out” one word or two and is it hyphenated?) I even have a friend who has more kids than I do, a truly super mom. I have a friend I met on Facebook.

exactly

We did not meet in person until almost three years later but it was as if we had always known each other. My sisters are my friends. My oldest girls are adults now and they are my friends as well. My mom is a one of my friends, the one I have had the longest. My husband is my best friend and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

All this rambling about my friends is meant to celebrate them at a time when I realize I need to make an effort to stay close to them and to be a good friend in return. As far as how it pertains to raising children, it is very important for moms to have friends and maintain those relationships. Did you know that the same great hormone released during breastfeeding, eating, or lovemaking, is also released during a good long talk? Women are wired to be together and be at ease with each other. Friendships are not a luxury for your rare girls-night-out events. We should have healthy, ongoing relationships with other women for our good and for theirs. I”m reluctant to say that something is good for your kids just because it is good for you as a mom, but this is true about good friendships.

In a Biblical village, the women would gather at regular intervals to gather water or do chores together. We don’t get enough chances to see each other these days, so we have to do what we can to see our friends. Even if Facebook is the closest thing we have these days to the village square, it is a great way to let a friend know you care and are thinking about her. It is also a great way to make a plan to see each other in person. So, check in with your village of friends. If you have three friends or thirty, they will be glad to hear from you.

Thank you to all the friends who helped or offered to help during our mini-crisis. It’s so good to know you are so willing to lend a hand. We love you all.