Recently, I had a discussion with a friend of mine. She’s an expat mum in Dubai. Just like me. She’s also a mum of two. A stay-at-home mum. Nearly three years ago, she quit her job when her eldest son was born. It was a well-paid job. With responsibilities. Now, she spends her days entertaining the little ones while her husband is at work. While her husband is earning the money. Sometimes in Dubai. Sometimes abroad. It was never planned that way. It just happened.
So, while we were sitting there, she told me how worried she was. For her CV. For her LinkedIn profile. And all the potential job interviews she might have one day. “It’s been over two years… No job. Nothing. There’s a huge gap on my CV! How can I even explain that to a future employer?” What she meant was: we’re out. We’re out of the corporate world. It’s us. And them.
I know the feeling. The frustration. I know the fear. The fear of not being able to return one day. At least not to the same position. I know the feeling of not belonging there anymore somehow. I am not the same person I was three years ago. What I don’t understand is why there needs to be a gap on our CV. On LinkedIn. And in our career. I don’t see a gap. I rather see a personal development. A career change. I see someone who was able to grow.
My LinkedIn profile says “Mum of Two”. It doesn’t say “Currently on maternity leave”. As if I was just waiting for a change. As if I had put my career into brackets. As if I was living in ‘a gap’…
I don’t think you actually stop working when you go on maternity leave. Or when you decide to become a full-time mum. For a little while. Or for longer. Your responsibilities change. Your clients as well. But you still work. You still get challenged every day. And you still see the result of your efforts. Right in front of your eyes.
Maybe even more than in any other job.
“But you can’t put that as a job title, can you? It’s not a job. I mean, everybody can be a mum. People don’t even know what you do as a mum…”
Oh really? Cause all these fancy job titles people put on LinkedIn really tell you what they are doing? I’ve seen trainees doing the work of a full-time employee and managers who honestly didn’t seem to be at their place…
Why can’t you put ‘Mum’ as a job title? What scares employers? And what scares us? That you suddenly can’t hide behind a company name? A job description, a university degree? That, suddenly, we are all the same? That we are all losing our sh… in front of a screaming toddler? Doctors, hairdressers and teachers alike?
We are all in the same boat. We can’t hide. We can’t outsource. We can’t pretend. Being a mum means tackling the challenges. Here and now. That’s what all employers should know. When you become a mum, you don’t lose what you had and who you were before. You don’t lose your former titles. Your experience. Your achievements. Being a full-time mum doesn’t take that away from you. It simply puts you in a new situation. It challenges you in a different way.
I might not have any cool job title anymore (though I think “mum of two” sounds pretty cool) but I am pretty sure I now know better how to manage a team. How to listen. How to be patient. I’m pretty sure I now know better how to prioritise, how to handle stressful situations and to multitask. I have learned how to win an argument with a 2yo by putting myself in his shoes. By observing him. By doing my research. I wish more marketers would do the same with their target groups… So, I’m pretty sure I am a better company asset now than three years ago.
See, before becoming a mum, I was a PR Manager, an Event Specialist and an Education Manager. I’ve worked for several international companies. I’ve participated in trainings. I’ve studied hard. I managed budgets, I talked to the press. I coordinated teams and came up with new ideas. And yet. Whenever I needed to tell someone about my jobs, my responsibilities and achievements, whenever I needed to convince someone of my worth, I struggled. I needed to think twice. I needed to get prepared. To learn my elevator pitch.
Today, I don’t need to think about this anymore. Out of all my jobs, my current one is the one that makes me proudest. The one I love the most. I don’t bother anymore with convincing people of my worth. I know what my current job has taught me. And what it teaches me every day.
And I know that, if I will return to work one day, it will be a company that knows. That understands. That doesn’t see a gap.
Until then, my job title will be “Mum of Two”.