Recently, I explained the New Reality of the Working Mom to The Boys. But after a few weeks in the trenches, I realized I left someone important out of the mix. Someone else who needs learn the ins-and-outs of the Working Mom World.
That would be me.
I’m a little out of practice.
So to help those of you who are making that transition from stay-at-home-mom to Work for Pay, I’m going to share my experiences. It’ll save you a good solid month of workplace embarrassment.
First, I had to reacquaint myself with professional work apparel. I’ve spent the last fourteen years in some combination of sweat pants, hoodies and a ball hat. If I were a rapper and properly accessorized, it might be an acceptable, if not trend-setting look. But showing up for my first day of work looking like I’m about to belt out Snoop Dogg’s Gin and Juice is not a look that suggests a Glass Ceiling is anywhere in my future.
Although I routinely claim to have just had a baby (fourteen years ago), I acknowledge it’s time to banish all things elastic from my closet. If I chose my work wardrobe based on comfort alone, I’d look just like my grandmother in Kmart elastic waist slacks, from the flammable collection, with SAS shoes. But I also believe that under no circumstances should a woman my age ever show up to work in a Forever 21 zippered faux leather miniskirt. For a woman my age, that’s not a fashion statement.
It’s a cry for help.
While in the personal grooming department, I’ve also learned the hard way to check the mirror before leaving the house. Because a few times, my make-up application made me resemble the deranged spawn of Tammy Faye Bakker. Likewise, never use your phone’s camera to check for food in your teeth while sitting at your desk – unless you have at least two plastic surgeons on speed dial.
Once I presented a non-rapper image and properly flossed my choppers, it was time to turn my attention to those rusty skills listed on my resume. And oddly enough, the one I’m now known for is one I never mentioned.
I have serious glue gun skills.
Yes, all those years of elementary school art projects and transforming everything including dryer lint into Halloween costumes had not been in vain. Because when a co-worker mentioned an office decorating project, my hand was flailing in the air while yelling “I can do that!” like Martha Stewart on a glitter bender. By the next afternoon, I was MacGyvering Fun Noodles into palm trees and barking orders like General Patton going into Craft War.
My office may not have a window but it has a counter that would give Martha a bad case of Craft Space Envy.
All moms returning to Work for Pay should be mindful of the differences between your new life with co-workers and your old one with toddlers. And you would be wise to banish a few phrases and concepts from your stay-home mom vernacular. Do not attempt to solve conflicts with the phrase, “Let’s use our words.” Refrain from asking co-workers, “When’s naptime?” Casual Friday does not mean jammies and Homer Simpson slippers. And before a staff meeting, never, ever ask your boss, “Do you need to go potty?”
I haven’t landed in the Office Naughty Chair yet. And I’m pretty excited. Because next week, I might get to be first in line for snack time.