16 Skills I’ve Learned as a Parent

Skills I learned
When I found out I was pregnant with my first daughter, I was working at an ad agency in the San Francisco Bay area. I was a copywriter writing ads, white papers, feature articles and websites for large tech companies. I thought I was pretty cool with these skills.

Fast forward a number of years later, I found myself back in Richmond, with a job in the creative department of a Fortune 500 company, more babies and a husband that worked crazy hours. I had big decision to make. With my 50+ hours a week, his 70+ hours and toddlers that had needs…CRAZY needs…did I keep at it or stay a little closer to home? After running numbers and battling that crazy demon that told me I needed to work to “matter,” I decided to stay home. Thanks to the fact that I am a writer, I was able to freelance to keep the creative juices flowing.

But, after a few years at home with the kids, freelance work got trumped by sick days, teacher work days, snow days, after-school activities, play dates, housework, story time, social obligations, PTA meetings…need I go on? And so before long, those little voices started creeping back in…“What can you actually offer the world?” I mean, basically, at the time, I was a maid, chauffeur, and personal chef. I started to get panicked. What happened when I wanted to go back to work? My resume would read “Did reasonably productive tasks, then changed diapers and made grilled cheese for 10 years.” And, yes, grilled cheese skills can come in handy, but in the workplace?

And so, I sat and thought about it. And by “sat and thought about it,” I mean that I lay awake at night when I should have been sleeping, but it was the only quiet time I had. So please don’t judge.

What I realized is that motherhood has prepared me for a lot of things. And I mean, A LOT of things. I am actually qualified for more jobs than I ever imagined. Certainly, more than I ever went to school for and definitely more than I’ve ever been paid for.

And for that, I would like to thank my kids. Because as it stands now, I could potentially rule the world one day, given my skill set:

1. Taxi driver

If you’ve ever been in a New York City cab and thought, “Dear Lord, I am going to die,” that’s nothing compared to what I can do with a sensible family crossover. Need to be somewhere in 10 minutes and it’s 15 minutes away? That’s right, I know shortcuts. Have a last minute social engagement? No worries, I have nothing better to do. Oh, your friends need a ride, too? That’s cool. I have a third row of seats for a reason.

2. Hairstylist

I thought I would have boys. I grew up with brothers so I am better at throwing a football than I am at braids. I played Matchbox cars instead of house. God thought it would be funny to give me all girls. But you’ve got picture day coming up? I am ALL over it. I taught myself to braid on the Barbie you demanded at the age of 3. Boo-yah. Homecoming? Prom? I have watched 7,000 Pinterest videos. There is nothing I can’t do with 10 bobby pins and some hairspray.

3. Maid service

Don’t worry about making your beds. I got it. And, please, leave your dishes all over the living room. I actually like walking around the house and finding crusty bowls. As for socks, how did you know that I collect them? It’s my favorite part of laundry, after picking up your dirty clothes in the bathroom. By the way, the hamper in the bathroom actually says “Dirty Laundry” on the side. But I understand that the fog created by your 30-minute shower might obscure the words. It’s an understandable mistake. That’s what I’m here for.

4. Hostage Negotiating

You and your sister can’t seem to agree on who gets to sit where on the couch? Can’t decide who’s turn it is to clean the litter box? She took your WHAT? I am all over it. I can talk hysterical toddlers/tweens/teens down from the ledge in 90 seconds flat. Just remind them that I am the ruler of their fate at the end of the day and all conflict is over. I’m just that good.

5. Biohazard Removal

Who need a biohazard suit? Not this girl. I have had more bodily fluid projectiles – put on me than I can name. Even if I could name them, I am not sure that I would. From infant exorcism to nasty bouts of the flu where it was all-men-down, I’ve handled it, cleaned it up and wiped it off my clothes (and sometimes my face). There’s not much I can’t take.

6. Handyman

Bring it, Ikea. I have put together daybeds, shelves, dressers and entertainment centers armed with nothing but an Allen wrench. As for those times I’ve heard, “Mooooommmmm, she broke the coffee table,”….let me just say, I own Gorilla Glue. There’s not much I can’t fix. I have declogged drains and toilets, re-built furniture and let’s not even talk about the science projects.

7. Short Order Cook

Ok, so the spinach tortellini with a creamy mushroom sauce was a mistake. Turns out no one likes spinach…or mushrooms. Ok, so now what? Do I let them starve? It’s tempting. But no, this is where I bring in the grilled cheese skills. And did I mention that I’m amazing at pouring milk? Because, that’s right. Breakfast is your only other option. Grilled cheese, cereal and eggs of some sort is what you’re getting for dinner when you don’t like what I make.

8. Therapist

Boys are stupid – or girls are. Depends on what you have. In my case, I have girls. But also, school is stressful, friends are fickle, life is hard. We spend a lot of time talking about these things in my house. I am very good at it. No one has ended up over the edge…yet. I am there. Always. We talk it out. My advice is good…usually. Either way, there is always a soft place to fall.

9. Chief Financial Officer

I make this place run. From the house to the utilities, I am the reason it’s here. I was an English major, but do not underestimate my ability with numbers. I keep the world that my family knows on track. And the lights, I also keep the lights on. And the internet. And the water. I mean, really, without these bills getting paid, there would not be life as you know it.

10. Loan Officer

Gas money?  A new dress? Homecoming? You’re killing me.  My job is to see what YOU can do for ME. Because you may not have collateral (I own it all anyway), but I am happy to hand out money when there’s something in in for me. That’s the way the world works. Better that you learn it here.

11. Actress

Oh, this one I’m good at. Every time I meet a teacher, I pretend I don’t understand why you didn’t do your homework (I know – and your teacher knows – that a new season of “The Voice” is not an excuse). I also pretend to like your friends’ parents. And there are some that are cool…but some that are not. I do this for you. And I must be pretty convincing, because they keep inviting us over.

12. Director

Just like the actors matter in a good show, so does the director. In fact, a good movie doesn’t happen without a good director. I keep this show rolling with my insightful contributions – what you should say, how you should say it and when. Call me bossy if you will. That’s fine. But when someone compliments your manners down the line, you can just say “thank you.”

13. Personal Shopper

I get a list every week. From make-up to groceries, someone always needs something. They need supplies for the school play. They want something different in their school lunch. There will be 10 teenagers at my house this weekend and food must be provided. They need new shoes. Whatever it is, I supply it. I know their tastes, styles and preferences. I shop. They consume. It’s the way things work.

14. Nurse

I don’t even begin to think that I could handle a REAL nursing job…considering how bad I am at math and science. But when it comes to the basics of administering the meds, checking the temps and cleaning up the aftermath? I’m a pro. I have handled sicknesses I don’t have names for, changed more bandages than I care to count and managed multiple sick rooms at once. I may not be a pro, but I am certainly a worthy apprentice.

15. Personal Assistant

I help with homework, appointments, travel arrangements, social engagements, doctors’ visits and letters to friends, family and the school. Why do I not get paid for this? Oh right. Because you have no money.

16. Event Planner

Sleepovers, birthday parties, girls’ weekends, pre-party events, football games…you name it. This is the place where it happens. I know that the food they like, they decorations that will work and the services they need. You need a party? I can throw it. Hands down.

Yes, these are skills that I have. In fact, I have them in abundance. But there is one skill that I have learned since having kids that has no name. And that is the way I love my kids. There is no job title for “mom.” There is no job description that describes the way you will love, care, bleed and die for these children that you call your own. Unless it’s “Mama Bear,” but I have yet to find that in the “help wanted” ads. So in the meantime, I will comfort myself that I am qualified to do many things.

In a word: I “matter.”

It’s the one job that defies description that I am the best at. And that is “mom.” That is the one that I have mastered. And in the end, that is the one that matters the most.

I know that we learn a lot as parents. Let me know some of the skills that you’ve learned in the comments below!

Anna Strock
Anna has spent the last 18 years writing, directing creative projects, and trying to be the best mom possible to her three girls. When she's not exploring Richmond for the latest and greatest resources, offerings, and activities, she can be found daydreaming on travel blogs, drinking too much coffee, and running kids to endless activities.