Two Kids and a Dog Up My Butt

Prologue

Please forgive me if this post feels stale. I’ve been attempting to finish it for the last two weeks, but I can’t f’ing write with two children and a dog up my butt 24/7! I’ve tried writing while the girls are huddled in front of some glowing screen or running unsupervised around the neighborhood, but it’s rare that even five minutes go by without someone whining (Birdie and Smalls), tattling on her sister (Smalls), protesting some perceived injustice (Biggie) or asking for a snack (Biggie, Smalls, Birdie, me). Aaaaarrrgghhhh!!! OK, I feel a little better. Please read on.

***

end_school_zoneIt’s the last week of school (you already know how I feel about this time of year), Ad Man is out of town all week, and I am barely holding onto my sanity (well, my definition of sanity which allows for a lot of wiggle room). Biggie and Smalls have been at each others’ throats pretty much every waking hour of the last few days. This doesn’t bode well for the next two and a half months. I’m starting to keep a list of some of the stupid shit those two find to fight about. My favorite so far is when they argue about whether or not they’re arguing.

Ad Man has been pretty much MIA other than a daily morning text to make sure we’re all out of bed. There are business trips during which he will call home and Facetime with the girls so he can quiz them on spelling words or they can read books to him. This hasn’t been one of those trips. Either his schedule is back-to-back meetings followed by expense account dinners followed by expense account bar hopping or he’s (wisely) avoiding me.

One rare time he promptly responded to a text from me this week, was when I informed him that I’d received a call about the mysterious bug I recently found downstairs on some laundry. I’m completely paranoid of Lyme Disease and haven’t ever seen a tick other than in photos, so I saved the bug in a zip-lock bag and gave it to our Orkin guy William. He couldn’t positively identify the body, so he brought it back to the office to observe it under a microscope. As he was walking out the door, he said casually, “I hope it’s not a bed bug.” Cue the panic! Find the Xanax!

Because Ad Man travels so much, bed bugs have been a recurring nightmare of mine for quite some time. Seriously, I’d rather both girls come home from school with lice than have the house infested with bed bugs. According to my internet research, which we all know is 100% accurate, bed bugs are very expensive, and damn near impossible, to get rid of. Moreover, bed bug bites are apparently horribly itchy. We had fleas in our apartment in Los Angeles once and I was ready to amputate my own legs in order to stop the itching. Ad Man, of course, is impervious to all insect bites.

Bed_bugThat was last week and, since I hadn’t yet heard back from Orkin and none of us had any bug bites, I thankfully assumed it wasn’t a tick or a bed bug and that all was well. That was until Monday, the day Ad Man hightailed it out of town. When I picked up the phone, William’s first words to me were, “You’re not going to like this…” Now, I adore William. He keeps my house mostly free of giant, flying cockroaches and never comments on my mounds of unfolded laundry. However, I think Orkin should start giving their technicians lessons on gently delivering disturbing news.

Indeed, the bug I was so worried was a tick turned out to be far, far worse. Ad Man got my text and responded surprisingly quickly. He attempted to calm me as I became more unhinged and my voice got higher with every passing minute. He tried to convince me that maybe just that one bed bug stowed away from New York in his luggage. I said, “Do you really think I just happened to find the one lonely bed bug wandering around our house?!” Feeling not the slightest bit optimistic, I made an appointment for a bed bug inspection for later in the week.

Meanwhile, I had a deluge of end-of-school-year and beginning-of-summer activities to wade through, so completely losing my shit was not an option. Biggie and Smalls have decided to join swim team after years of turning up their noses at the idea. I’d been told by numerous friends how lucky I was that the girls weren’t interested and that the schedule of practices and meets was overwhelming, especially while the kids were still in school. Did I heed their warnings though? I did not. I stupidly asked the girls just one more time if they wanted to join the team knowing how much they love to swim and wanting them to have an athletic activity to drag them away from the television this summer.

So, the day of the girls’ first swim practice arrived and I’d spent all day trying to work, stocking the fridge with ingredients for easy meals to which I would later say, “Screw it!” and order pizza instead, and tracking down luau-themed plates and napkins for Smalls’s year-end party. (I refused to drive across town to the party store for “luau” and went with “generically festive” from Target. I’m sure that put me on an inadequate-PTA-parent list somewhere.)

The girls’ bus got home late, as usual, so I had approximately nine minutes to get them changed and out the door. Naturally, I couldn’t find the beach bag containing all the swimming accoutrements, i.e., goggles, swimsuits that actually fit the girls, spray sunscreen, etc. I texted Ad Man, “do u know where swim bag is?” As expected, he was not helpful. I tried again, “i can’t find goggles 4 the girls!” to which he responded, “check the swim bag.” I considered filing for divorce, but decided that I should stick it out for the humorous blog content alone.

rainy_chastain_poolDespite the fact that we live, literally, five minutes from the pool, it took us twelve minutes to get there through school, baseball, and swim team traffic and another ten minutes to find a freaking parking spot. I dragged the girls to the pool, signed them in for practice, tracked down their respective coaches and grabbed a far-off lounge chair where I could sweat in private when the first clap of thunder sounded.

The lifeguards whistled righteously and herded everyone out of the pool. The coaches declared practice cancelled. The mother of Biggie and Smalls gathered up her wet children and all of their wet belongings and returned home to drink alone. That’s pretty much how the rest of the week went as well.

***

Epilogue

I’m relieved to say the bed bug inspection turned up exactly nothing. I did, in fact, find the one and only bed bug wandering around our house in search of a friend. Ad Man was right. I hate when that happens.

The Effect of Snow Days on Otherwise Sane(ish) Mothers

grown_up_snow_dayThe madness of yet another major snow and ice storm in Atlanta has rendered my brain just about completely useless. You’ll be relieved to know that my autonomic nervous system is functioning as usual. My heartbeat, breathing and digestive systems are still on autopilot. However, complex functioning required to make plans, follow directions, make decisions or reason through any sort of cause-and-effect analysis is completely out of the question.

According to my own extensive research, the evidence conclusively shows that snow days are terrible for your health. My hypothesis, that proximity to one’s children and spouse/partner for extended periods of time with no option for escape can interfere with brain function has proven scientifically accurate. Moreover, my research has undergone stringent testing through the peer review process which turned up identical results. Subjects across the country were observed and polled. Local subjects participated in numerous round table discussions generally while imbibing copious amounts of wine. Other peers who responded remotely from across the country via Facebook and Twitter also reported similar results.

To be clear, I use the umbrella term “snow day” to mean any day in which weather conditions have caused the closing of schools, daycare centers or offices. As we’ve learned this winter, a “snow day” may include actual snowfall or, merely, excessive cold that makes standing on a bus stop a life-threatening activity. Because of global climate change, in the future, the term “snow day” may be extended to include drought, famine, floods, earthquakes, plagues of locusts and other potentially disastrous acts of nature. The following is a brief summary of my research notes after observing one subject who has chosen to remain anonymous.

The subject is a 44 year old, female in generally good physical health with the exception of a noticeable layer around her midsection that in no way resembles muscle. Subject is a stay-at-home mother of two elementary school aged daughters.  Subject has been married for, what she reports, “feels like two lifetimes…maybe more.” Her spouse is a 43 year old advertising executive with a high-level position in a global advertising company. During the observation period, subject’s husband was often observed being grumpy and lacking patience with the subject and their children.  This behavior tended to become more frequent in direct correlation with the number of snow days that kept him from the safe haven of his office.

During the observation period, there were two extended stretches of time in which the subject was exposed to the effects of snow days. In my report, I refer to these stretches of time as “Snow Week 1” and “Snow Week 2.” As with her spouse, negative impacts on subject’s mental and physical health became measurably more pronounced with each snow day. I will outline the subject’s changes in behavior and mental/emotional status separately for each Snow Week.

Snow Week 1

  • When the subject was presented with meteorological evidence indicating an impending snow day, she began a period of sharply increased activity during which she was observed hoarding food and drink, focusing mainly on gathering various alcoholic beverages.
  • The subject became notably more agitated as snowfall began and her spouse and children remained away from the family home. The subject reported having entertained a number of doomsday predictions during this time period.
  • Upon the return of subject’s offspring and spouse, her panic response reportedly lessened significantly.
  • Subject’s relief was short-lived however.  Realizing that she would be stranded in the house with her spouse and offspring for the foreseeable future, the subject’s panic response quickly returned to dangerous levels.
  • Subject reported becoming increasingly sensitive to various sounds during Snow Week 1. These sounds included, but were not limited to, her offspring’s whining, the theme songs to children’s television shows and cartoons, news reports incessantly repeating details of the snow event, and her husband’s low-level grumbling in response to any and all stimuli.
  • Subject’s activity level sharply decreased during this time period and her intake of sugar and alcohol markedly increased.
  • Subject became more and more sensitive to the taunts of peers living in the West who continued enjoying beautiful weather.

Following Snow Week 1, when the weather regulated and subject’s spouse and children returned to their usual work and school schedules, the subject demonstrated an increased level of optimism, bordering on inappropriate giddiness. Subject did, however, show evidence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In one incident, the subject thought she spied a snowflake and was halfway to a panic attack before realizing that the offending item was merely a leaf. It appears this Snow Week will have ongoing emotional repercussions for the subject.

Snow Week 2

  • When the subject became aware of another predicted Snow Week, subject showed evidence of a serious break with reality. When she realized that denial was having no effect on the weather, she again entered a period of increased activity, seeking out and gathering children’s activity books, Nerf guns and an increased supply of alcoholic beverages.
  • As subject’s spouse and children were safely at home at the onset of Snow Week 2, her panic response was muted. Instead, subject’s behavior indicated evidence of sad resignation bordering on depression.
  • The subject’s physical activity slowed to sloth-like levels. She began baking and ingesting sugar and fat-laden comfort foods at an alarming rate.
  • On a handful of occasions, the subject was observed vocalizing in expletive-laden tirades apparently aimed at ice crystals raining down from the sky.
  • The subject was later observed eating Xanax like candy.
  • The subject’s parenting skills deteriorated to dangerously low levels. The subject reported having to repeatedly fight the overwhelming urge to eat her young.
  • The subject is catatonic, curled up in the fetal position. Her last words were, “Who are these people and what are they doing in my house?!”

I fear the subject may not survive another snow day. In fact, snow should be avoided at all costs. My recommendation is that the subject get on an airplane bound for a tropical island immediately…ALONE!

I Am Not Worthy

bandaid_handsI want to thank my dear friend Kanye West for filling in for me last Friday.  I hope you found his parenting advice helpful. I must apologize for being a bit of a slacker this week. I’ve been (gasp!) working. Yes, I’m engaged in some seasonal labor. No, I’m not the mall Santa’s new grumpy middle-aged elf. I can barely manage my own children let alone hundreds of kids who are up past their naptime, wearing their itchiest Sunday best, and wired from a steady diet of candy canes and goldfish crackers.

Actually, my friends K and G own an amazing gourmet sweet bread company and cafe here in Atlanta called Breadwinner. I can’t help but boast…their bread was named one of Oprah Winfrey’s Favorite Things in 2011. And you know Oprah is the world’s foremost expert on Things. Anyway, they do a ton of business at the holidays, shipping thousands of breads across the country. So, I’ve been doing some pretty serious packaging and shipping these days. As I sit here, I have a heating pad on my neck and shoulders and band-aids on the bloody stumps that used to be my fingers.

This little trial run as a working mother has been eye-opening. Thus far, I’ve worked a total of three, five-hour days. I’m still getting home in time to meet Biggie and Smalls when they get off the bus, but I am completely exhausted! Granted, as I mentioned, it is fairly physical work (I mean, those bows don’t just tie themselves!), but you’d think I could handle a few measly five-hour days. Instead, until now, I have not managed to write one word for this blog, do a moment of exercise or wash one piece of laundry. The house is in shambles and our dinners this week have been, shall we say, uninspired. As far as experiments go, I wouldn’t exactly call this one a rousing success.

I bow down to working mothers everywhere. I am clearly not worthy to stand in their shoes. When I was first out of law school and working as an associate at a law firm, that there were weeks on end when I didn’t get a day off. I always worked at least one day each weekend and rarely left the office before 7 pm. Twelve-hour days were typical. I’m not saying it was fun, but I managed to keep up that pace for a few years without falling apart physically or losing my mind, which I’d say is a win. So I have to question whether I am a weenie now because I’m old or just because I’m out of practice.

Don’t get me wrong, there have also been some very positive aspects to working outside the little fiefdom of my house. I don’t fall into the Today Show/Facebook black hole in the morning while drinking my tea, failing to emerge for hours. I actually get up and shower every day. I’m eating an actual lunch instead of scarfing an energy bar and a handful of nuts between errands. I’m having contact with human beings other than the person working the Starbucks drive-thru. I take pride in my work. My ribbons are tied and trimmed beautifully, my breads are carefully packaged and I only occasionally find a crucial enclosure card left on the table and have to unpack 50 boxes to figure out which one is missing a card.

Most importantly, I get a real sense of accomplishment from the work. You can’t wrap and pack 300 loaves of bread for a corporate order without feeling a certain satisfaction. That is one thing I’ve sorely missed from my days of working full-time. Being a stay-at-home parent is a marathon rather than a sprint, and you rarely even see the finish line on the horizon, let alone cross it. Most of the things you do accomplish in a day…cleaning the house, doing laundry, cooking, helping the kids with homework…just need to be done again tomorrow. I really miss the finish line.

Luckily, in the next few weeks I have, among other things, a birthday slumber party to throw for Biggie, Christmas presents to buy, wrap and either ship out or hide, stockings to stuff, cookies to bake, a holiday party to throw for Ad Man’s employees and a blog to write. Maybe it would help me to visualize all those tasks lined up before a finish line beyond which lies copious amounts of wine, a pint of ice cream and a nice, warm bed. If not, I’ll just take the wine and a few Xanax-laced Christmas cookies, thankyouverymuch!

It Takes a Village

ivf_embryo_lavThere were seven people in the room when I conceived my eldest daughter, the most crucial of whom was not my husband.  In fact, Ad Man didn’t really need to be there at all. I’d argue that the most important person in the room was the embryologist who delivered a syringe fitted with a long plastic tube containing four of the cutest little soap bubbles you’ve ever seen.  As IVF doctors tend to have a bit of a God complex, I’m sure my handsome, famous, Beverly Hills fertility doctor would have claimed the title for himself. And, actually, our bank account would provide evidence that he was correct.

In addition to Dr. S and the embryologist, there were two nurses and two additional doctors who were there to learn how to make babies the hard way.  Ad Man was by my side holding my hand, but he could easily have been out eating a slice of pizza, having done his important job days before.  Since then, our potential brood had been plumping up cell by cell and being poked and prodded by a team of doctors who declared them free of genetic diseases and ready for implantation.

Before the crowd gathered around my vagina like mechanics diagnosing an engine problem, Ad Man and I met with Dr. S to discuss the soap bubbles.  The romantic petri dish dance between my eggs (not so gently plucked from my ovaries with a giant needle days before) and Ad Man’s sperm had resulted in two Grade A Large embryos and two others that were puny and a little scraggly around the edges.  We decided to implant all four embryos in hopes that one or two of them would stick.

This was not our first time at the rodeo, however.  We were in our third year of trying to get me properly knocked up.  By this point, I’d already endured countless tests, hundreds of shots, and two previous rounds of in vitro.  After the first round, we were told that my pregnancy test was positive, but my hormone levels were low, so there was a good chance the pregnancy wouldn’t be successful.  It wasn’t.

After the second round of IVF, I knew almost immediately that I was pregnant when my boobs began growing at an alarming rate.  Two weeks later, Dr. S gave us the joyous news…I was indeed pregnant and my enormous breasts were evidence of my raging hormone levels.  Turns out, my raging hormone levels were evidence that I was growing a set of twins in there.  We were ecstatic!  Two babies for the price of one!  We were done with this IVF shit forever!

Unfortunately, our joy was short-lived.  A few weeks into my pregnancy, after we’d already seen the two little heartbeats, we went back to the doctor’s office for another routine ultrasound and discovered that the fluttering heartbeats had stopped. An even more detailed ultrasound confirmed that I’d lost the pregnancy.  The weeks and months after my miscarriage are now a blur.  I went into a deep depression and Ad Man did his best to support me while simultaneously mourning his own loss.

I do remember, though, that it was the love and support of our friends and family (along with antidepressants and the world’s best therapist) that got us through that profound heartbreak.  Ad Man and I had been very open about our struggle with infertility, which we later found out, is a fairly rare thing.  Infertility is often still seen as embarrassing or, at least, deeply private.  In fact, it was only when we opened up to others that a number of our friends shared that they too had experienced, or were struggling with, infertility. Luckily, Ad Man and I are both blabbermouths with no boundaries so we had a team of people cheering us on, including both of our bosses.

One day, Ad Man (who can be a real softie) went into his boss’s office crying after a failed round of IVF.  In a perfect, only-in-L.A. moment, his boss J gave him a big hug and said, “That fucking sucks!  You know what you need?  Xanax.  You want some?”  I’m telling you, you can’t buy that kind of support!

Honestly, it was a relief to be open with our friends because we could rely on them for support and we could laugh with them at the ridiculousness of the whole process. When you’re dealing with infertility, it’s best to just check your humility at the door on the very first day.  By the end of our last round of IVF, Ad Man could give me a shot in the ass just about anywhere and I could have had a vaginal ultrasound in the doctor’s waiting room without blinking an eye.

And, Ad Man was such a trouper.  Subjects that would have made most men hide in a corner, like uterine polyps, low sperm count and masturbating into a cup, just became fodder for amusing dinner party conversation.  (Now, don’t you wish you could party with us?!)  Going into our second round of IVF, Ad Man was happy to discover that, because we lived so close to our fertility clinic, he could make his, ahem, deposit at home and bring it into the clinic rather than having to do the deed on-site.  When he was making the special delivery, he got into the elevator with another guy who looked sheepish, carrying his own bag-o-sperm into the office.  Ad Man took one look at the guy and said, “You brown-baggin’ it too?”  I don’t know if the poor man in the elevator was amused by the question, but it sure has made us and our friends laugh over the years!

Mommy and baby BiggieThose seven people who witnessed Biggie’s conception must have been good luck because it resulted in a blissfully uneventful, successful pregnancy with one healthy baby girl!  Ad Man and I never regretted being so open about our journey even when things went wrong and we had to make some very difficult phone calls.  We found out that it sometimes takes a village to make a baby.  I’m glad we learned that lesson early on because, as others have said time and again, it sure as hell takes a village to raise a child.  I’m just glad that my little band of villagers has always been there to laugh and cry with me (occasionally at the same time), offer me shelter when I’ve locked myself out of the house, take the kids for an afternoon when I’m barely holding on by my fingernails, and to know, without me having to say a word, when an emergency cocktail is in order. What more could a girl want?

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Stick a Fork in Me

lunatics_blog_pic

These people are lunatics. I blame them.

That’s it…I’ve had it!  I give up!  I would like to be admitted to the hospital, preferably Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.  I am suffering from exhaustion.  It may be a questionable diagnosis, but if it’s good enough for movie stars and rock stars, it’s good enough for me, dammit!  In fact, my condition is so dire, I’d like the Beyonce Suite, please.  Didn’t Jay Z pimp out like a whole floor of the hospital for her when she squeezed out Blue Ivy?  Yeah, that’s the one I want.  (I can assure you, I saw no gold plated birthing tubs when I had Biggie there 7 years ago.)

Since this is a self-diagnosis, I suspect the doctors and my insurance company will require some empirical data before they’ll check me into my suite and begin the massage treatments and bonbon deliveries. So, in the interest of science, I am providing the following documentation of my day thus far.

It began as does every other day at our house…with the morning meltdown.  Alarms went off obscenely early, as always, so we would have ample time to get Biggie and Smalls ready to hop on the bus by 7 am.  Unfortunately, we were not up early enough to provide a sufficient cushion for this morning’s super-sized meltdown.  Today’s drama was due to my utter inability to choose the correct socks for Biggie and Ad Man’s ridiculous choice of breakfast foods for Smalls.  Approximately 30 seconds before the scheduled departure time, we were dragging Smalls out from her favorite tantrum spot under the bed, attempting to brush her teeth through her cries of injustice and stuffing Biggie’s feet into whatever socks were closest to the door…quite possibly the dirty ones she dropped there yesterday.

With two kids successfully deposited on the bus and Ad Man off to work, I began the most pleasant part of my day, the sweet, sweet hours in which no one is whining at me.  As much as I wanted to crawl back into my still warm bed, I had many things to accomplish before the beginning of the afternoon’s homework meltdown.  I ran to the gym for a pathetic attempt at a workout.  I thoroughly researched and bought a new flat iron to replace the one that crapped out this morning leaving my hip-mom shag looking more Carol Brady than Sally Hershberger.  I stalked Goodwill for missing elements of the girls’ Halloween costumes and then headed to the grocery store to purchase the items necessary to make a healthy and delicious minestrone soup for dinner.

I was hurrying home from the grocery store so I would arrive before the school bus when I got a call from Smalls’s teacher.  It seems I’d totally forgotten I’d planned to pick up Smalls in carpool instead of having her take the bus since Biggie had an after-school activity at the other campus.  Instead of unloading the groceries from the car, I immediately turned around and headed to school.  Visions swirled in my head of my poor, abandoned child sobbing alone on the sidewalk as the last car pulled up to the carpool pick-up area and she saw that her mother was not inside.

As it turned out, Smalls was unaffected by being abandoned and was happily coloring in the front office when I arrived at school.  I, on the other hand, slunk in with my head bowed in shame hoping that none of the upper echelon of PTA moms would spot me claiming my forgotten child…in a Carol Brady shag no less.

Milking my guilt for all it was worth, Smalls requested that we stop at the park for King of Pops chocolate sea salt popsicles before retrieving her sister.  So, we went to the park, grabbed our pops and sat down at a picnic table so Smalls could do homework. She, of course, dripped chocolate all over herself and her homework and spent half an hour denying that the dance she was doing was in any way related to the fullness of her bladder.  I checked my phone and saw that we were going to be late if we didn’t leave to pick up Biggie just as Smalls began chanting, “I have to pee, I have to pee, I have to pee!” No shit, kid!  Really?!

diagnosis_kidsWe jumped back in the car, headed over to Biggie’s school, ran into the building and located the closest bathroom where Smalls flat out refused to sit on the potty because the door to the stall wouldn’t latch to her satisfaction.  Because, you know, heaven forbid a stray 2nd grade girl should wander in and see a sliver of her sitting on the toilet through the ever-so-slightly open door.  At this point I was pulling my hair out, biting my tongue to keep from yelling all kinds of naughty words in an elementary school and wishing I had a handful of Xanax to munch on.

We managed to track down Biggie who was the second of my two children to wander around looking for her missing mother today and raced home with Smalls’s overextended bladder threatening to blow at any minute.  We skidded into the driveway, unlocked the front door and Smalls ran to the bathroom just narrowly avoiding a pee disaster.  I unloaded the melted groceries from the trunk of the car and thought, “Aaahhhhh…finally, things are starting to look up!”

I was settling in to start overseeing homework and chopping vegetables for tonight’s dinner when it became clear, after a frantic search, that Smalls’s backpack was no longer in our possession.  FUUUUUUCCKKK!!!  Rather than herding the girls back into the car and schlepping them to every location we’d just been to, I called my friend A, sent the kids over to her house and told her to be ready to drink with me upon my return.  I then texted Ad Man and asked him to bring home Mexican food because there’s was no way in hell I was going to cook dinner tonight!

Really, the only bright spot in this day was when I found the backpack sitting right there in the park where Smalls and I left it earlier.  And now finally, after a glass of wine with A, I’m again able to form a complete sentence.  So, here it is…I’m done!  Stick a fork in me. Beyonce Suite, here I come!  I’ll have my driver drop me off at the secret back hospital entrance usually used for whisking in overdosing celebrities.  Make sure that bed is made with 600 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets and get my bourbon I.V. ready to go!

We’ll Be in Touch

My mom uniformThere are number of intimidating aspects of a job search for moms (and dads…but mostly moms, let’s just be honest here) who have been out of the employment market for an extended time while raising children. For example, trying to find an appropriate outfit when meeting a potential employer may be difficult.  Digging through my extensive collection of skinny jeans, boyfriend jeans and high-waisted flare jeans (friend to many a muffin-topped mom, myself included), I find not one pair of appropriate pants.  As for tops, I own just about every available color of this v-neck t-shirt from Everlane, but nothing “blousy” or even “shirty” that looks professional and doesn’t showcase my tattoos.  And my shoe stash consists mainly of flip-flops, Vans slip-ons, boots and sexy sandals for going out to fancy events, like preschool fundraisers.

But the single most frightening part of the job search has got to be the interviewing process.  Think about it.  You’re completely out of your element and not exactly set up for success.  The interview itself consists mainly of sitting in a room with another adult and having a conversation that does not revolve around your children, your children’s school, the neighbors or the irritating thing your husband does that’s driving you bat-shit crazy.  You’re meeting with someone who is already reluctant to even consider you as a potential candidate for the job because of the glaringly obvious Grand Canyon-sized hole in your resume and is probably just doing a favor for a friend-of-a-friend (a testament to your stellar networking skills at the kids’ weekend soccer games).

Little Biggie in Mom's shoesSince just forming a complete sentence is a challenge at times for a stay-at-home mom, coming up with intelligent, witty, informed and mostly truthful answers to interview questions is likely the biggest stumbling block there is when attempting to return to the job market.  So, I have done some preparation to work through my responses to some commonly asked interview questions and help give a leg up to other readers who may find themselves in the same predicament.  Please note that, while I suspect your answers to the following questions would be strikingly similar to mine, you really should alter them a bit to fit your specific situation.

A Stay-at-Home Mom’s Responses to Commonly Asked Job Interview Questions:

Q:  Tell me a little about yourself.
A:  Well, I am a graduate of X University where I studied art (just an example of my largely useless undergraduate degree. Yours may be something like marine biology or philosophy or Russian literature.)  From there, I went on to X University School of Law (or medicine or business…you get the drill now) where I graduated with honors (or at least in the top half of my class).  That led to an offer at a somewhat prestigious law firm in X world-class city (where I no longer live because I wanted to be able to afford a house and send my children to a decent school).  Blah, blah, blah, job successes, promotions, raises, etc.,…and then I had a kid and threw it all away.  (OK, maybe not in those exact words.)  I am now looking to reenter the job market.

Q:  What is your greatest strength?
A:  I am a very strong leader and have led teams of varying sizes with a number of successful projects.

Q:  Can you point to a recent example of when you displayed your leadership skills?
A:  Absolutely.  Just last year, I managed an unruly team of 20 preschoolers to develop a project that was sold at a hefty profit at the yearly school fundraiser.  I managed to get my group to act as a unified team despite a number of obstacles including needing to use the potty, a disagreement over who got the last of the pink glitter and a tantrum over having to take the blueberry Go-Gurt when all the strawberries were previously claimed.

Q:  How do you evaluate success?
A:  At the end of the day, I ask myself, are the children all still alive?  Has my husband officially filed for divorce?  If I can answer those two questions with a yes and no, respectively, I call it a success and pour myself a glass of wine.

Q:  Why are you leaving your current position?
A:  Because my employers are tyrants, the pay sucks, the working conditions are abominable and I haven’t had a vacation in 7 years.

Q:  Give me some other examples of times you used your strengths to solve problems at your current job.
A:  Well, more than once, I’ve used my chest or my cupped hands to catch flying vomit from an ill child in order to avoid having to try to scrub puke out of a white flokati rug.  I believe this shows my creative problem solving skills as well as my ability to sacrifice my personal comfort for the greater good of the organization, or at least its interior design.  Also, I have found food on the floor on various occasions when I’ve been in a rush to complete another project and I’ve just eaten the abandoned food rather than taking the time to walk to the trash can.  This demonstrates my impressive time management skills.  Lastly, when faced with an epic exploding poopy diaper situation, rather than pulling the soiled onesie over the head of a screaming child which would have smeared feces into every orifice on the child’s face further angering her, I quickly grabbed a pair of scissors, carefully cut the putrid article of clothing off the child, yelled “Fuck it!” to no one in particular, threw the onesie in the trash and dumped the kid in the tub.  Again, creative problem solving and, um, maybe multitasking?

Q:  How do you handle stress and pressure?
A:  A daily cocktail, varying somewhat, but generally consisting of Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Xanax and alcohol.

“Fantastic, thanks for coming in.  We’ll be in touch.”