Last week we posted an e-mail from reader “Daniella,” who holds a master’s degree in chemistry but has decided to take time off from her career to be with her 2-year-old and 5-month old youngsters (See the Mailbag, Nov. 5). She’s worried, though, that when she returns, that the “gap” in her resume will work to her disadvantage in the job market. A good concern, so we invited our other readers to send in their thoughts about educated mothers who choose to stay home with their children for a few years. Here are a couple of e-mails:
“I just went back to work part-time after five years as a full-time mom. Large corporations did not respond to my resume. However, small firms were very responsive and did not seem to care that I had taken five years off. My biggest surprise was that taking time off did not adversely affect my pay. I learned that fair-market value is fair-market value. I was not penalized for time away as feminists suggest. Be sure not to sell yourself short on pay.”
And from “Debra”:
“I ‘stayed home,’ not just while the children were preschoolers, but until my youngest was in high school. (After three cycles of teens, I’m convinced adolescents need stay-at-home moms more than the wee ones do.) At various times our family was eligible for all kinds of government handouts, but I have a stubborn streak of independence and did not avail myself. I found lots of support from like-minded women at my church and in home-schooling groups (though I homeschooled one child only briefly and another only through the years of junior high).
“As far as practical matters go, I learned to use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. I knew ‘then’ that I was doing the right thing, and I loved nearly every minute of sharing my children’s lives. Today I’m back in the workforce full time as an educator; my oldest child, a daughter, is working on her Ph.D. and paying her way via a teaching assistantship; my son is in his senior year of college with interviews in a few weeks for dental school; my youngest is a senior in high school and is a National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist. And I had the privilege of being their first teacher.”
Gosh, Debra, you sound terrific, and so do your kids. And thanks for the very practical counsel, M.C. Small companies, not big ones, are indeed likely to be in a position to hire and appreciate part-time professionals. Way to go.
Any more thoughts from Inky readers?