Monday Author: Susanne Skinner
I have a great job but it’s not the best job I’ve had, or the longest, or even the hardest. Many years ago I accepted the most challenging; demanding and most important position the world could offer me. It came with 24/7 shift work, impossible deliverables and critical performance reviews. I became a Mom.
Becoming someone’s mother changed my place in the world and re-balanced my thinking. Motherhood filled a hole in my life I didn’t know existed. It rolled over me, flattened me, lifted me up and strengthened me. It offered benefits no salaried job could match and provided the training for every paying job I would ever hold.
Being a Mom carries more than one job title. Here are a few of mine:
- Mommy, Mom, Mama, Ma, Mother Dearest
- She who must be obeyed
- The Warden
- The Bursar
- The Terminator
- Fixer and Finder
- Goddess of all that is Right and Good
- The Worst Mother in the Entire World, maybe even the Universe
You can’t be fired and it’s impossible to quit. They own you. You can’t outsource Motherhood.
The Mom Degree
I have always been a working mom. I make no apologies for this – it’s who I am. In fact, I excel at my paying job because motherhood developed my business skills and provided me with hands-on experience. No easy gig here. I have a magna cum laude degree in Mom. It came with on-the-job training that felt like a never-ending internship. There was a great deal of research, much trial and error, a few failures and some experimentation that we can’t speak of here.
Being a Mom is really hard work. Some Moms work two jobs – one at home and one in an office. Women are subject to scrutiny and criticism because we live in a world that believes we can’t fulfill both roles with equal distinction. I have found a fair (not perfect) balance between family and career that works for me. It is never 50-50; in fact, there are times when it’s been 90-10. I learned to swing the balance where the demand was greatest and I have a wonderful parenting partner and husband. I also have a panic room and drink wine.
Motherhood provided me with the foundation for most of my business skills. Let’s start with the basics. In my Mom role I acquired experience that translated seamlessly into the working world. My qualifications include:
The first time I kissed a scraped knee and told a sobbing child that I had made it all better I became a salesperson. The minute I agreed to extend a deadline, reduce a price, waive a penalty, talk to their father or claim it was a one-time-only deal I was knee-deep in a lifetime career of selling. Unfortunately, it’s a non-commission job.
I am an experienced CFO. I manage the family budget, investment portfolio, disbursement of funds, debt collection and contract negotiation. I grant loans, enforce due dates, collect fines, add interest, and impose penalties. I balance everything all of the time.
Children are outstanding negotiators. They interpret ‘no’ to mean ‘maybe’ and ‘maybe’ to mean ‘yes.’ They do not give up easily, and ask for more than they want. They taught me everything I know, especially the value of High Initial Demand (HID). Go big – go above and beyond what sounds reasonable, affordable and possible – and you will walk away with exactly what you wanted. Maybe more.
I really shine here. I can bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan. I manage schedules, budgets, inbound/outbound freight, meetings, food and beverage orders, transportation, public relations, labor disputes, strikes, mediation, performance warnings and reprimands. I handle crisis management, event management, conflict resolution, the occasional layoff and medical triage. Last but not least, I am the 911 and 411 operator, decision maker, hostage negotiator and corporate spokesperson. And that’s just one afternoon.
I know what you need before you do. Customer Service is part of my Mom DNA. Let’s review: teacher conferences, doctors’ appointments, prescriptions, rehearsals, monsters under the bed, no clean socks, nobody likes me, bake sale cupcakes, flat tires, carpools, need a loan, need a ride, need a hug, homework help, field trip chaperone, lost your keys, lost your book, lost your way, broken toy, broken car, broken heart? I’m your man – except I’m a woman. And let’s not forget the poster board for a school project due tomorrow and it’s now 8 p.m. …
Valuing differences, explaining benefits, offering training and providing counseling prepared me for a career in human resources. Handling disappointments, harassment, conflict, goal setting, performance feedback and realignment of objectives taught me everything I need to know about creating a positive place to grow human beings, nurture talent, heal what is broken and get rid of what is not working.
Every mom knows magic. This is a universal truth known by all of us and discussed by none of us. We also have superpowers.
All moms are working moms. I honor you on Mothers Day and every day. I am proud to be one of you, living and working together in the ‘hood. Let this be our mantra: I can, because I am the Mom.