This is not my typical post because it has very little to do with transport. However, I am going to be self-indulgent and tell you what’s on my mind…
I’m the mother of two adorable boys, the youngest is 15 months and I’m currently looking for a job. So when I get a chance (when a miracle happens and they are both asleep at the same time), I go online and see where and how I can twist my resume and skills to fit a job description. Having spent too long at university without putting my heart and soul into specialising in anything, it’s not always easy.
However, while I’m contemplating the selection criteria, I can’t help but being drawn to the experiences I have had and the skills I have learnt during my time as a parent. I have had to deal with competing tasks (dirty nappies, burning dinner and a toddler who has latched onto your leg with the grip of a leech), negotiate with difficult stakeholders (a three year old with a death wish at a busy intersection), researched (everything from rashes to how to stop your child becoming a tyrant), worked well in a diverse team (my hubby and I), developed innovative solution (fitting bikes, balls, scooters, snacks and shopping in a pram and the list goes on with project management and communication skills that will knock your socks off. Then I wonder what the recruiters would think and I go back to writing my boring experiences in the workplace knowing these don’t really reflect the potential worker I’ve become since being a Mum.
But perhaps I shouldn’t and the talents gained while taking on a caring role should be smiled upon in searching for an appropriate person for the job. My ‘gap’ in my resume should be seen as a time of upskilling, becoming the ultimate generalist with the patience and motivation to move mountains. I have also come to learn the perspective of the parent and being interested in transport planning (among other things), this has been invaluable in giving me a greater appreciation of accessibility issues. Spending much of my time with one child who is constantly coming out with crazy connections, and another who will make me laugh without saying anything, it frees your mind to actually be creative and exciting in ways that a normal workplace can’t facilitate. My poor husband has to listen to my next crazy theory or initiative after arriving home exhausted from work. And while most of my ideas are in a development phase with no deadlines, occasionally I manage to do something that I hope gives value to the world without having to be in the working world.
So, with Mother’s day around the corner I wanted to write this down for all the parents out there (mums and dads) who have taken time off work, I just wanted to tell you that while you are appreciated (mostly) by the small people you care for, and perhaps you grapple with your status (am I on parental leave, unemployed, a stay-at-home parent?), you are becoming more employable in my books. I actually don’t like to judge people by how much that can contribute to the formal economy and perhaps my books are not the reality, but if recruiters could see past the work history and examine life experiences I think they would be knocking on the doors of every playgroup.
So I’m not encouraging you all to have children. In fact, for most of my life I was dead set on not producing progeny. However, for those of us that do, particularly for the men who often miss the opportunity, I recommend taking some time off if you can afford it. When you consider that we don’t understand how life began and the human species often forgets how crazy its very existence is, a child will teach you so much and make you want to be more curious and grateful. And even if these things can’t get to a job (because perhaps our idea of work is all wrong), they will certainly help you complete the selection criteria for being a good person. (Sorry for the cheesy ending, you can blame the hormones).