19 months ago I went on maternity leave and was made redundant all at the same time. Nine months ago, I started job hunting. And a few weeks ago, I finally made it past the final round of interviews to a job offer. Halle-frickin-lujah.
I’ve applied for countless jobs this year and despite being lucky enough to get through to final interview for many, for one reason or another, I kept not quite making the cut.
Once or twice I’m not unconvinced it wasn’t because of my family situation. Don’t get me wrong, no one actually said those words – no HR manager worth their salt would go near that subject with a barge pole. But a few teetered close to the line, asking questions like, “How do you feel about returning to work after having a child?” or “how do you feel about staying late to get the job done? I assume you want to get home to your daughter…”
And this seems to be an issue every mother I know is faced with.
While many employers have made great strides in promoting equality in the work place, I can’t help but feel the Other Half would never have been asked these questions if the tables were turned.
Truth be told, I also found myself embarrassed in some cases that I was 26, with a baby and unemployed. Somehow, I felt it looked bad on me. I felt ashamed that I felt that way and while I knew on so many different levels that’s not the truth (or how I came across – I hope), I still worried.
Despite this, in some ways, this line of questioning didn’t bother me. Because if an employer did have an issue with working parents, I’d rather they didn’t hire me as clearly we wouldn’t be the right fit. Because I do have a family, and they are my priority now. As is paying the bills, putting food on the table and giving our daughter all the opportunities we had and more… for which we need two pay cheques each month. And so for the practical reasons alone, I trawled job listings each week.
But also, it became clear earlier this year that I want more than nursery rhymes and singing multicoloured plastic in my life. I have the utmost respect for anyone who can do this day-in-day-out. Obviously, I love my daughter more than I knew was possible. But do you know what else I love? Adult conversation. Having a purpose aside from wiping Little Miss’ bum. Using my brain for more than counting to five and reciting The Gruffalo, word for word, from memory.
Everyone kept saying, “something will come up,” “you just haven’t found the right thing yet”. The thing is, when you’ve been job hunting for six months, that starts to wear thin.
Then, in July, I went on holiday with my girls from school. Lying by the pool, sunning ourselves and swapping books (yes, I actually read a non-parenting related book for the first time in nearly two years. It was bliss.) one of them suddenly had a lightbulb moment. She is now a designer at a children’s fashion brand. They’re the new kids on the block and looking for someone to launch their brand with a bang… Enter Amie.
Two interviews later, I am going from Stay At Home Mum to Head of Marketing and Comms.Talk about landing on my feet!
And today is my first day.
The OH took the nursery run this morning so I can just focus on one thing at a time. I’m not due in until 10am. I chose what I was wearing last night and Little Miss’ nursery bag was packed ready to go by the door. The OH made me a packed lunch (altogether now, “aww!”) and yet, true to form, I’m running down to the last second, probably walking in at 10:01 by the skin of my teeth.
We got a small taste of the morning chaos to come today as we chased Little Miss round the apartment trying to get her dressed. After a busy weekend visiting my in-laws in Surrey, she didn’t seem to want a busy day at nursery. This ended with her eating a quarter of a crumpet, lying on the kitchen worktop shouting, “WEYEES!! WEYEES!!”while we whipped her clothes on, promising she could wear her wellies if she would just let us put her leggings on…
And now, here I stand on the tube. Making the 40 minute journey down the Central Line. Dressed in proper clothes, with a proper handbag, my hair blow-dried – I’ve even got eye liner on! – sweating profusely, fighting for three inches of personal space, surrounded by armpits and the smell of BO I suddenly feel slightly nostalgic for the morning diaper change and dancing session in the living room… Sure, there are some pretty horrendous smells involved with my old job too… but at least I know the being who produces them and there’s no risk of catching cholera.
No! Eye on the prize Mama. Think of problems you’ll solve, the systems you’ll put in place, the documents you’ll produce, the quiet, hot coffee you’ll sip, the peaceful lunch you’ll eat, the adult conversation you’ll have. That’s right. Eye on the prize.
But first, hold your breath and try not to breath in too much tube air. Or you might not make it there at all…
Wish me luck!
This post is part of the Mummy Monday linky.