When our son was born four years ago, my husband and I decided that I would become a stay-at-home-mother. His wage was more than enough for us to live on comfortably, and the money we lost from my pathetic wage was “saved” by not having to pay for child care. I was in no hurry to return to work; in fact I felt incredibly lucky to be able to make the that kind of choice when so many other families cannot. It was a win/win situation for us.
I started to get the itch to return back to the work force right around the time that we were transferred to Alice Springs. Gone was the 9-5 Monday to Friday roster; my husband started working a brutal shift schedule of two 12 hour days, followed by two 12 hour nights with a four day break in between. The amazing support network of family and friends were some 3,000km west of us, and to really top it all off, we learned that most child care centres in town either had a waiting list almost two years long, or were completely turning away new enquiries altogether. Any chance I had of returning to work was shattered the second we boarded that plane. Like it or not, I was going to be a stay-at-home-mum for the long haul.
I have made no secret of how miserable I was for the first few years here in Alice Springs. I threw myself in to World of Warcraft because I got the social interaction I was craving. I worked my arse off to build a guild I could be proud of because it satisfied that part of me that wanted to be doing something productive. Being in charge of Concur made me feel important in the same way that I had felt important when I used to be in charge of planning advertising layouts back at the newspaper. I eventually snapped out of it and started focusing more on my writing, but it was too little, too late.
Looking back, I see now just how badly I wasted the opportunities that this situation presented to me. I was so consumed by how I was ‘so lonely’ and how I just want to go home that I didn’t once think about what exactly I would do once I made it back. Putting together my resume a few weeks ago was one of the most depressing and humiliating things I have ever done. I have a four year gap that cannot be filled with “run a guild” or “write about World of Warcraft“. Instead it has “full time mother” and it would seem employers in my home town are not impressed with what I have to offer.
A smart person would have studied something –anything — in their spare time so that their CV would not look like they were just bumming around for four years. A more proactive person would have done volunteer work in order to gain recent references and some good karma to boot. Many business savvy mothers run their own start ups from home. I have an estore that has only ever made one sale. Those women are most likely the ones beating me out for jobs that I should be getting because I have the experience. It’s a harsh lesson to learn, especially now that I am in a position where I could return the favour and let my husband stay at home while I bring home the bacon. I want to so badly provide him with the same opportunity that he gave me, but I can’t because I didn’t have the ambition or forethought to keep my resume looking healthy.
Hindsight is 20/20.