Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Job Interview Panic Attack

As you guys know, I’m a proud stay-at-home mom, even though it’s not the most glamorous or appreciated job. Lydia already covered this topic and I agree with everything she wrote in that post because she is a damn genius. In spite of my SAHM pride, a few months ago I started to get that itch to go back to work outside my house.

I’m not sure what caused the itchiness…my youngest is turning 2 and has started losing his last shred of baby-ness and will soon be off to school…or maybe it was that the tax forms reminded me I hadn’t contributed to our annual household income AGAIN…or was it that I am hitting my four (FOUR!) year anniversary of being at home…or maybe it was just that feeling of general unimportance that settles over a stay-at-home mom from time to time.

Don’t get me wrong, I know my job is very, very important to the people in this house and to those who love us. But sometimes I miss that sensation of coming home, walking through my front door and feeling like I was out all day kicking ass in the real, big world out there.

So I started getting the itch (gross) and I sent out a few resumes for part-time jobs. Even just sending those out made me feel a million times better. Yeah, until I didn’t get a call back. That part sucked. These were jobs I was legitimately qualified to do and I didn’t even get a smidge of interest from the employers. It was such a blow to my ego that I entered a self-doubt spiral. It wasn’t pretty.

As you may imagine, it involved a lot of moping about how no one will ever hire me because I’ve been out of the workforce too long…and the kids have stolen all my energy and most of my IQ. I tried to hide my mini-depression but my new friend Lulu (mom to three kids under five years-old and a SAHM) called me out on it. She emailed me and was all, ‘What’s wrong with you this week? You seem so sad!’ So I emailed her this image (found by my husband through Stumbled Upon) back as a response:

Her email reply read, “My husband is working late. Do you and the kids want to come for a late play date and stay for dinner? We can drink our way through it.” (You can see why I’m friends with her, no?)

Well, I think Lulu’s meatloaf and wine has actual, magical powers because the very.next.day I got a call for a job interview! Squeeeeeeeeeee! I was right in the middle of simultaneously emailing my husband the news, calling Lulu, and doing an M.C. Hammer dance of joy (which Kate once witnessed in a Target parking lot) when I froze like a deer in headlights.
What the crap?? I have to go on a job interview!!! What followed was a three-phase freak-out over the course of one week:

Phase One: Arranging Childcare (a.k.a. Take my children! PLEASE!)
The interview was on a Friday afternoon and I have a great babysitter who can come on Fridays, but only until 4:30pm and then she has to leave for class so what if I’m not back in time because there might be traffic on the Mass Pike (who am I kidding, of COURSE there will be traffic on the Pike) so maybe I can get my fabulous next door neighbor to come over at 4:20pm and relieve my sitter so the kids are covered and my sitter doesn’t hate me for making her late. Uuuuh, holy schmidt, this childcare thing is really complicated. But I figured it out! At least for one day.

Phase Two: Wardrobe (a.k.a. Finding Pants without an Elastic Waistband)
On this blog there is a spectrum of Mom Fashion: Lydia’s end (where yoga pants and clogs are considered playground-chic) and Kate’s end (where you wear your four-inch Choos and a gorgeous designer dress out…to the Wegmans). On this grand spectrum I fall strongly on the Lydia side. I do not wear clogs and yoga pants but I do regularly wear the same pair of old jeans that are so droopy in the butt it looks like I just took a dump. I pair those stunners with a hoodie and some seven year-old brown sauchony sneakers that should probably be burned. (I can hear Kate lighting a match right now…!)

Clearly, this was not going to fly for a job interview. And needless to say all my pre-child work clothes don’t fit at all. So that weekend I spent a solid two hours wandering around TJ Maxx trying to familiarize myself with new trends in what I call “grown-up clothes” because I wanted to look and feel great for my interview!

Here’s what I learned: there is not much made in fleece anymore. (Editor’s note: I think Kate just dropped dead. From horror. –Lydia) And I’m perplexed by the skinny belt. It looks cute but seems impractical and it makes my hips look big. I started freaking out about an hour into the trip and left with three different outfits and the return policy in-hand. After emailing photos of all of them to my besties they agreed on a simple blazer and cute dress pants. Simple, professional, classic, and aaaalmost affordable.

Phase Three: Reviving My Brain (a.k.a. making Louise look like less of a freakin’ idiot)
The night before the interview I was confirming my babysitter and watching my husband iron my cute new dress pants (oh yes) and feeling pretty damn good about myself…and then I had yet another wave of panic: what if all those jokes I cracked about being an idiot were TRUE?? I broke into a flop sweat. What if my interviewer asks me a simple theoretical question…one I would have nailed five years ago fresh my M.A. program…but tomorrow all that comes out when I open my mouth are the lyrics to the Dinosaur Train theme song?? GAH!!!

In a flurry I slithered under my bed and found three old text books and started frantically flipping through them, as if cramming for an exam. Then I hopped on the company’s website and started memorizing their mission statement, in hopes that some of their key words would replace phrases in my normal lexicon, such as ‘Pinkalicious’, ‘chicken nugget’ and ‘rectal temp’.

All in all, my panics and freak-outs were both unavoidable and completely necessary. When I walked in to that interview I held my head high having successfully overcome my mom obstacles. I had orchestrated patchwork childcare! I got dressed in nice clothes and wore a bra! I was prepared to use fancy words and have a solid 65% chance of using them accurately!

My last thought as I opened the door to the fancy office building was this: “Nothing is harder than the time I had to clean up one kid’s puke while puking on myself and cooking the other kid dinner…!” In that instant I realized staying at home has made me tough. Resilient. Creative. Industrious. I have a whole new set of life-skills to add to my resume. After all my moping and whining about being irrelevant it turns out being a SAHM is actually really excellent training…and besides, if they don’t give me the job I’ll just send them all to Time Out.

p.s. I got the job! I'M TOO LEGIT!

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

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