The Gatekeepers (and the gatekeepers)

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It’s been 18 months since I closed up shop at our Torrance location. And, well, I’m not working nearly as much as I thought I would be. I’m certainly not working nearly as much as my bank account would like me to be. What matters most, though, is I’m not working as much as I’d like to be.

I’m one of countless women who transitioned to full-time motherhood with the hopes of not being a full-time mom. Maybe, somehow, I could continue to share my skills, talents, and resources. Maybe I could get compensated for my expertise. Maybe, just maybe, I’d find a way to squeeze a fulfilling and rewarding career into two hour blocks three days a week.

That’s a big maybe. Really, it’s a no.

This weekend, I spent some time on job boards then complained to my husband, “I’m qualified for no jobs.” Jobs that say they value “real” people, jobs that say they want to accommodate women and families, these jobs need me to have a decade of experience and up-to-the-moment knowledge of the industry to apply. Well, I’ve been pregnant, breastfeeding, and child-rearing in all the moments up to this one.

And I started thinking about all the gatekeepers who tell women we aren’t qualified for the world out there. That we should listen to the experts but we certainly, unequivocally are NOT the experts. (If we were experts, apparently, we’d have put the babies in daycare and gone about our expertise-ing.)

I got pretty down on myself staring into the eyes of all those gatekeepers. Many of them haven’t so much as let me know they received my application these past 18 months. Many haven’t acknowledged the very personal, well-crafted emails and cover letters I’ve sent. Many just can’t seem to spend time on a woman who has spent the past 18 months in deep study of humanity rather than in deep study of the reels the algorithm likes most.

But, here’s my trump card: I, too, am a gatekeeper.

I’m the gatekeeper to my children’s future, to their spending habits, to our household purchases and energy, to the way we all spend our time, to all the many discussions between other gatekeepers that happen NOT on reels but on the playgrounds and beach picnics and indoor climbing gyms.

If you’ve been home with your kids and are feeling shut out of the rest of the world, I hope you can realize you have your own rich world of influence. I hope you can turn to that world – to my world – and feel it welcoming you, holding you high as an expert, and listening to what you have to say.

You are valued.