At a party tonight I introduced a friend to a colleague. When my colleague asked my friend what she did, she told her she was 'taking some time out at the moment.' I interjected and explained that this busy, brilliant lady was currently the full-time mother of two energetic under-fives. "But it's not something you put on your CV," was the response.
Why down play motherhood? If we were really 'taking time out;, we'd be on our back soaking up the sun in Rarotanga or the Maldives, or climbing Ben Nevis just for the hell of it, wouldn't we? Why the hell shouldn't we put 'Full Time Mother' on our CV?
Later on I mentioned this comment to my husband, who immediately agreed that Full Time Mother wasn't something that was relevant to a CV.
Well, as a pretty much full-time mother myself, this met with short shrift. I was, frankly, shocked.
His argument was that if you're, say, an engineer, then putting motherhood on your CV isn't relevant. In fact his words were something along the lines of "You don't put down that you've only been a mother for the past few years... Most mothers are dreadful."
Yes, and most marriages end in divorce, if you get my drift...
But seriously and without plunging off into a furious rant, should Full Time Mother appear on a CV, and if so, why?
What does it mean to be a full-time mum?
You are someone who can show full commitment. One hundred per cent. You know what it is to give your all, and when the moment calls for it, you can be counted on.
You care about others. You are prepared to sit and listen. You notice strengths and encourage them, you notice weakness and help others overcome them.
You are the backbone of your family. When the paycheck is small, you budget to feed your family and make ends meet. When someone is sad you comfort them. When help is needed, you find and ask for it.
If you don't discipline, your world comes tumbling around you. You understand the value of a strong, fair hand.
You have given up your personal dreams outside of having children to care for and nurture them, to support your partner if you have one, and to hold the family together through thick and thin. When someone has to get up in the night, it's usually you. You cook the meals, make the packed lunches and let your partner fulfil his or her career dreams while yours wait in the sidelines.
Closely linked to sacrifice. You compromise your wants for your childrens' needs. You compromise your dreams for your partner's career. You give up all thoughts of a 50/50 childcare split when your partner's career takes off and tell yourself 'my time will come.'
So why put Full Time Mother on your CV. Clearly being a Full Time Mum has no bearing on any other walk of life you may choose to be involved in. Does it?
I think the one clear and outstanding reason for putting Full Time Mother on your CV and expecting an employer to respect you for it, and take it into serious consideration, is point 5 -Sacrifice. Why, after being a Full-Time-Mum, are you now looking for a job? Because it's time for YOU again. Because you don't want to scrimp and save for your gym membership or that new pair of shoes. Because you'd like to meet some adults who aren't your friends AFTER your children met their children. What does this mean to an employer? It means you are COMMITTED. It means your heart and your soul and a good deal of your sense of self worth will be enmeshed in this job, and in the way you do it. It means that you ARE NOT going to waste a single minute of your precious, precious time farting about on Facebook, but will spend every moment proving yourself to you and anyone else who cares to notice. You will do a damned good job and will be worth every penny (which is why they should damned well pay you a fair wage).
Yes, it might mean you have to rush off every once in a while to tend a sick child. But bet your bottom dollar you'll be giving more than most for every minute you're at work.
Motherhood. Put it on your CV.
Here are some handy links to articles on this very subject, including tips on exactly how to play The Motherhood Element when applying for a job.
Check out this quote from this brilliant article:
"My son is dyslexic and required educational support when younger, but my business/family stress was finally reduced when he discovered as a teenager, that dyslexia is an anagram for “daily sex”. That helped with his learning difficulty more than anything I ever did."
This one talks about HOW and WHEN it's appropriate to include our parenting skills on a CV. I love the part where she talks about the coaching she gave to female artists to re-frame their descriptions of themselves. I absolutely do this - "I'm a mother to two under fives, but three days I work part-time...."
She also says:
"A small (but related) digression: In my search for images to illustrate this column, “working mothers with children” yielded numerous photos of mothers with babies, a few mothers with toddlers, and mothers with young children – at a laptop or on the phone, but always in a home office. The images were even labeled as such, specifying “home office.”
YES! In my own search for a photo for this blog post, I was struck by all the photos of mothers holding children while working on a laptop - doing both, or neither - or looking completely frazzled. I opted for a photo I found googling "working women" and not "working mother" at all.
And finally, just a few good, practical tips.
© Naomi Madelin 2013