How to Explain Gap in Resume: Caring for Family or…Coma?
When I was pregnant, a friend who didn’t have kids yet dropped of a stack of novels, “I thought you might like to read these once the baby comes and you stop going to work.” Made sense to me in the moment; I would have tons of time on my hands right? Ha! The stack say on our table for months after our daughter arrived and a year later I managed to find the time to return them to my friend, unopened and unread. Where did all that time go I thought I would have?
That time was spent working. I don’t mean employment. I mean the very real work of caring for family that is so often invisible yet takes time, energy and skill of the mothers and fathers who do it every day. I noticed more and more that there seemed to be an hidden, subconscious assumption that “Caring for family isn’t really work, it’s just what mothers do.” One woman went to a workplace meeting a few weeks before her maternity leave ended and a male colleague asked, “So when are you coming back from your baby vacation.”
And then the kicker, a mother shared that she attended a career seminar and asked the group how to explain in an interview the fact that for three years she had been caring for family and not employed. A colleague told her, “Tell them you’ve been in a coma. That way, you’ll have better luck explaining why you haven’t been doing anything for the past three years.”
Haven’t. Been. Doing. Anything?
I wanted to put that guy in a coma for her. Or have him spend a couple of months on his own taking care of two toddlers.
It’s high time we make the invisible visible. What if we all believed that Caring for others is a vital human and economic activity and a public service?
What if we believed caring for others isn’t something JUST mothers do, but that it is important work that mothers, fathers and others do all the time?