I’ve been out of the workforce for nearly five years, is how I begin my thinking about going back to work. Admittedly, not the most confident thought to have when networking with old colleagues, bosses and updating my resume.

So, I’ve been trying to come up with the optimistic “but…” line. And the more I think about how motherhood will have an impact on my management skills, the more I’m able to shift my thinking to, I’ve learned a lot over the past few years, and this is how it’s made me a better manager than ever!

I stopped working in 2007. While I was managing a housing reconstruction program for victims of the 2005 Tsunami in Indonesia, I had my third miscarriage in as many years, and it broke me. It ended my nascent career in international humanitarian aid and development. My husband and I returned home to the US feeling like dejected wanderers with no foundation to uplift us from our failure to create a family.

I was lost and could not regain my usual drive to work, and so my husband pursued his dream of joining the US Foreign Service. We bought a home to anchor us physically and psychologically knowing that we would need that anchor when we set sail abroad again. Then miraculously, just as my husband started his job as a diplomat, I started my job as a mother of our blessed twins.

Boy, was I in for the toughest job of my life! Not only was I working irregular hours, including night shifts and overtime, I was on-call 24/7 answering to TWO bosses who had no management or communication skills to speak of and who wanted immediate gratification setting unrealistic deadlines nearly by the hour.

My job required constant vigilance on our budget, adjusting priorities according to the mercurial needs of our venture, reducing costs where possible while maintaining quality in order to service two very finicky clients. The constant demands from my clients required planning with a triple-layered Gantt chart committed to memory (since I rarely had time to check my computer). Staying ahead of their needs was one key to my success.

I also managed to reach unsurpassed heights in multi-tasking while sleep deprived, hungry, and unkempt. I had to learn a whole new language never before spoken by anyone, and there was a lot of heavy lifting involved. I have frequently dealt with the unexpected and am able to come up with effective solutions in a flash. Finally, even though I had part-time assistants, we were still painfully short-staffed. However, I was able achieve my goals and fulfill all of my responsibilities beyond expectations.

So I didn’t really stop working after all. My managements skills aren’t so rusty after all. In fact, they’ve probably been honed sharper than I realize. More importantly, I think I’ve also gained some “soft” skills that can’t be taught outside of my current job. My emotional intelligence IQ has probably sky rocketed. I am now more empathetic, more patient, more understanding, more flexible, more self-less, more fair. I am a better listener, better negotiator, better compromiser, better communicator and even a better hugger.

All these things I’ve gained from being a full-time mom and I would be a great asset to any organization that hires me. Now that’s more like it. I have a resume to update…

How has being a mom impacted your professional capabilities?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by our mother of twins writer,  Dee Harlow in Virginia, USA.

Photo credit attributed to mirimcfly. This photo has a creative commons attribution license.

Dee Harlow (Laos)

One of Dee’s earliest memories was flying on a trans-Pacific flight from her birthplace in Bangkok, Thailand, to the United States when she was six years old. Ever since then, it has always felt natural for her to criss-cross the globe. So after growing up in the northeast of the US, her life, her work and her curiosity have taken her to over 32 countries. And it was in the 30th country while serving in the Peace Corps in Uzbekistan that she met her husband. Together they embarked on a career in international humanitarian aid working in refugee camps in Darfur, Sudan, and the tsunami torn coast of Aceh, Indonesia. Dee is now a full-time mother of three-year old twins and continues to criss-cross the globe every two years with her husband who is in the US Foreign Service. They currently live in Vientiane, Laos, and are loving it! You can read about their adventures at Wanderlustress.

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