The Meat and Potatoes of Life: One spouse ponders the resume ‘gap’ predicament

| November 1, 2014 | 1 Comment


Lisa Smith Molinari
Contributing Writer
All my regular tables in the loft of the Starbucks are taken, so I grab the only available seat downstairs, a barstool right beside the rest rooms.

I have work to do, but before I start, I spend the requisite amount of time dawdling — staring out the window, cleaning crumpled gum wrappers out of my purse, checking email on my laptop, people-watching.

Although I would normally procrastinate in this way for at least a half-hour, I decide that people-watching beside the toilets is decidedly less entertaining than it is from the upstairs loft and, therefore, not worth the effort.

I open a blank document, and breathe a great big sigh. You’ve been a stay-at-home military spouse for a long time. The kids are old enough now. It’s time to find a paying job.

I type “RESUME (hit return) … Lisa Smith Molinari.” I key onto the top center of the page.
I pick up steam, quickly tapping out my address, phone number and email, adding aesthetically pleasing fonts, underlining and bold. After a few thumps on the return key, I type “EDUCATION” and enjoy a trip down memory lane to the ivy-tangled, Georgian architecture of Miami of Ohio, and the endless racks of thick casebooks at Thomas Cooley Law School in Michigan.

I add “law review” and “cum laude,” feeling a surge of confidence. Ah, that wasn’t so bad, I think to myself, onto the next section.

No sooner do I bold and underline the heading “WORK EXPERIENCE,” when my hands begin to tremble. It’s just the caffeine, I tell myself, and then strain to recall the details of my last paying job.

Hmm. Let’s see now. Was it 1995 when I worked for that law firm in California while Francis was assigned to the Naval Postgraduate School? Seriously? I can’t put a job from almost two decades ago on my resume. I’ll be a laughing stock!

I realize that, since marrying my Navy husband in 1993, I have nothing to put in my resume for “work experience,” except a few short-lived legal jobs between military moves.

Recognizing that my Vente Skinny Vanilla Latte has nothing to do with my trembling hands, I press on, trying my best to make 20 years as a stay-at-home military mom read like a thriving professional career.

As I fill my work experience gap with various volunteer and freelance jobs I’ve had through the years, I “tsk” at how unfair the working world can be to military spouses.

For most of us, managing our families through multiple moves, hardships, deployments and constant change is the most challenging “work experience” we’ve ever had. Despite the bonbons and soap operas stereotypes, any spouse who has successfully managed a three children and one sloppy labradoodle household — and all the deployments, broken hot water heaters, clogged gutters, orthodontist appointments and parent-teacher conferences that come with it — is most definitely worthy of gainful employment.

Listing “Domestic Engineer” was a consideration by the author as a job description. (File photo)

Listing “Domestic Engineer” was a consideration by the author as a job description. (File photo)

I resist the urge to add the cutesy cliché “Domestic Engineer” in hopes that potential employers will respect me for putting my own career aside to help my husband serve his country. Instead, under the heading “REMARKS,” I write, “Despite gaps in my job history, I have always exemplified hard work and dedication, whether as a lawyer, writer, volunteer, mother or military spouse,” and then pound the period button with a self-righteous poke.

I’ve been working hard for 20 years at the uniquely challenging job of being a military spouse, and perhaps that’s the kind of experience that just can’t be described on paper.

Finished with my resume and my latte, I close my laptop with a steady hand, and hope that there are employers out there who won’t mind the gap.

(A 20-year military spouse and mother of three, Molinari has plenty of humor to share in her column, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life,” which appears in military and civilian newspapers and at

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  1. The Meat and Potatoes of Life: One spouse ponders the resume 'gap' predicament - Hawaii Army Weekly | IT Manager, Computer Consultant, Resume, Orange County, California | November 2, 2014

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