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A Modern Day Tale About A Single Mom Returning To Work

A few years back, I took on a wonderful part-time job in order to “vocationally rehabilitate” myself — those “in the know” understand the term. Now, I have been essentially forced to take on full-time employment. Finding a full-time job, after being a stay-at-home mom for nine years, is like trying to get one’s taxes in order while skydiving. It will happen eventually, but it takes time, effort, and some well-earned cursing tirades before the task is actually completed.

Such was the case. After literally submitting over 200 — not a typo, two hundred — applications, networking, being patient, hoping for the best, drinking wine, crying, and taking deep breaths, the beloved rejection letters slowly trickled in. They are peppered with phrases like: “We have decided to move in another direction,” and, “We are limiting ourselves to more qualified candidates.” I did not know how much more qualified I could be.

A break down of qualifying criteria, preferably in the form of a checklist, would have been helpful, so that I could methodically identify my glaring deficiencies. Something like: “Joe speaks fluent Mandarin,” vs., “I can be on a conference call, have laundry running, and be at the grocery store all at the same time.” It all depends on what the employer is looking for, and somehow my skills were always “not the right fit.”

My favorite rejection letter was one with a glaring typo. (My response should have garnered me an interview, but it takes talent to see talent):

Pozvat | Blog | Rejection Email
Pozvat | Blog | Rejection Email

However, I am proof that magic and unicorns do exist, because I did finally land a job. A good one, with growth potential. Someone somewhere, that genius Talent Acquisition Director, saw something redeeming in me. Or maybe they suffered a massive “poor her” moment and threw me a bone. Regardless, I love my new job. I am so lucky and proud, and mostly relieved. The process is overwhelmingly defeatist. I felt like the CEO of Sucktown University for an extended period of time.

But there is always a flip. As a custodial parent, and one who receives zero child support, this has become a very difficult juggling act. A dance filled with guilt, confusion, bitterness, and self-doubt. Also, one rife with new beginnings and possibilities.

  1. The dance consists of so many moving parts and questions:  
  2. “How am I going to do this?”
  3. “Am I damaging my child?”
  4. “Did I get gas last night?”
  5. “Yikes, I have to perform at work?”
  6. “Did my daughter remember her lunch? I am not going back home!”
  7. “Is happy hour my only option to see my friends now?”
  8. “When will I see my man since we both work and are exhausted every night?”
  9. “Will my daughter understand and respect this someday?”

I often feel lost in space and time, with the weeks flying by and me still staring at what seems like 18,254 unopened emails while my home snail mail piles up to the point it gets sent back to the post office. It’s no wonder I wake up in a sweat, wondering if I have paid my car registration, or if my daughter has a clean uniform for school tomorrow.

Work is great, rewarding, and I am crushing it. But this is only true at work. I feel like I have dropped the ball on the mom thing. I am unable to go back to being the mom I once was because I have to work and provide for my child.

If I have to hear another person talk about “Work/Life Balance,” they will find themselves on the wrong end of some major smack talk. There is no balance. Unless you have an endless supply of cash and nannies.

Truth be told, I miss picking her up from school everyday. Tremendously. I knew that it was a privilege. However, I long to see that sparkly face at the end of each day when I get to turn back into mom. Someday, we’ll both see that I am being a mom in both roles.

I am just not there yet.


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Stef H

Director of Strategy & Communications @ Pozvat

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