As I embark upon the soul-shattering mission to return to work after a baby I am reminded of the difficulties of doing so on an Island where the vast majority of vacancies probably receive 100’s of applications. With merely a handful of GCSE’s to my name and an ample amount of work experience and life experience it has hard to snag more than a ‘thank you for your application, unfortunately….’ let alone even an acknowledgement of my interest and effort or even an interview. Let’s face it gaining employment is hard especially when there is not as much appreciation for the endless tasks that motherhood throws at you that happen to demonstrate your ability to pretty much cope with anything.
Breastfeeding; whilst something that I am no longer doing and certainly do not wish to do ever as means of securing a job this particular hurdle that I conquered for a whooping 6 months shows a huge amount of dedication. Breastfeeding a child is a difficult job, it requires determination, perseverance and a lot of independent working because actually no one can take that night shift for you. It requires a great deal of sobriety, care, comfort and love to do this 5 million times a day. It takes confidence to do this in public, it means being creative with a wardrobe that is lacking after you are likely to have expanded making most of your clothes redundant.
Attention to detail: a mother literally has to have eyes everywhere, you cannot barely blink without a toddler trying to do some death defying stunt. Nothing can be left, no tea or coffee, there is a place for everything and everything in its place. There is little spontaneity when you have a climber, the sudden urge to pee can often leave you vulnerable to finding your child dancing on the table.
Organisation: if I have to do anything I have to be quick and precise, I need to have a plan. I need to arrange nap time so that I can clean away everyone else’s stuff because they lack that ‘attention to detail’. I must ensure that nap is at the right time and lasts for the right amount of time as not to have a very unhappy toddler even more prone to damaging himself because he has become ‘dangerously tired’.
Multitasking: I have the ability to cook three different meals and serve them all at the same time without burning anything to make sure that everyone eats. I can then eat mine whilst feeding the toddler and catching the food that he has refused to try before it touches the floor.
Management: I can command a room, sometimes with just a stern yet gentle look, I can get an eight year old to tidy her bedroom (to a somewhat questionable/acceptable state), I can get that homework done using my abilities as a negotiator.
Time keeping: I have a tidy home, I plan my washing around the ever changing British weather and we all have clean pants. I can make sure that the milk man’s delivery comes at just the time the last smidgen of milk is used. I make sure this house is clean despite the toddler, the eight year old who likes to make sure that there is at least three cuddly cat toys of hers in each room, a partner who refuses to throw even his own contact lens wrappers in the bin himself, a rather large brown hound and a fat (forever shedding) ginger cat lives here. I sweep the floors about three times a day.
Strength: I functioned for nearly a whole year on about 4 hours worth of broken sleep a night whilst juggling everything else, how you may ask me? Literally couldn’t tell you for a million quid. It happened, I, and everyone else is still alive. Miracle.
Working with people: I have been able to sustain the very lives that have made mine harder, through love, care, comfort and nourishment. I am the one that feeds imagination, gives hope to the daughter that is bullied, encourages dreams and vanquishes nightmares and monsters. I play, I laugh, I jump and dance even when I don’t want to get my children to be happy. I am committed and loyal.
A mother is more than just someone that is able to stay at home and look after an infant, that infant is continually changing and as a mother you have to adapt to survive. There is a list as long as my arm of all the things that I would bring to a work a place that would be happy to give me the opportunity.