Monday, 19 December 2011

Would you employ this old mother?

I may be little. I may be a woman, but I never imagined I'd ever feel like the little woman, a homemaker with no income aside from £130 per month child benefit. It feels ridiculous buying your partner a Christmas present out of his own wages, but unless I entertain gentleman callers in a negligee , the options are sparce. How did it come to this? I'd always sworn I'd have an independent career and income for the sake of my sanity, for my dignity and self esteem. I may never have believed it would ever happen to me , but now my heel is stuck between the rails and a train destined for unemployable is heading full speed in my direction. I can see it coming, I know what it is, it's not creeping up on me, it's about to plough me down.

I stopped working after my second child. You cannot fit a conventional job around a shift worker who never works the same days each week. Wages minus tax, child care and travel = not enough to do an admin job that pays below average wage. After a few years of trudging to work with toddlers for a pittance , I decided to jack it in and stay at home and write. Despite some published non fiction, I am becoming less and less productive. For a completer finisher, working from home is a challenge. I can't even write a Trip Advisor review without being interrupted by a shitty nappy or the tragedy of a broken toy, expressed by a five year old melting down in operatic style. I crave deep thought, being lost in a task, being paid for doing something because someone values my contribution. I want to feel like an adult again, and not some aimless soul hanging around the school gates, praying that someone might just invite me out for a coffee. Five years of 'the wheels on the bus' and I'm about to swear in public in front of infants. Baby groups are great for babies but I'm a woman with needs, and I need a job.

So 2012 will see me dusting off the old C.V. I've lost a heel pulling it free from that rail, my confidence is bruised, my self esteem workwise is at an all time low. There's a recession on, who wants to employ this old mother. How can two years at home teach you any skills anyone paying money could use in an employee? Here are a few of the skills developed out on the floor of domesticity.

Ability to focus on budgets and decision making whilst being interrogated and abused - shopping with son who can pester every three seconds until your head explodes.

Jobbing Head Chef. Master chef has nothing on me. I can cook with a toddler clinging to my leg as another child uses the mini parsnips as Minotaur horns to headbutt mŷ arse.

Tardiness is not an option. Can rise early after little sleep.

Can work without a lunch break and view toilet visits as a luxury.

Can tolerate physical and mental abuse as part of the daily routine.

Despite being 5ft I can restrain the violent and carry heavy loads. Need a packhorse or punchbag, I'm your woman. Ummm, time to think again.

Too much time at home and you forget what you can do and what you have achieved. So here goes, a potted history of my money making exploits so far. Supervisor in a private bank, compliance bod, cancan dancer, cancan teacher, Office manager , PA, library mistress, author, blogger. Most bizarre acts performed for money include scouring the North Laines for a diamanté necklace for a chocolate dog and showing my frilly knickers on a windy pier . I have written a book in two months whilst breast feeding a newborn baby, written a collection of short stories after hours when the kids are asleep upstairs, sold burlesque vintage on a stall in the middle of winter, six months pregnant, jolly in red lipstick and an ill fitting coat. After the sale of some hot pink nipple tassels I wondered why I was making life so hard for myself for such little return. I bet Jordan doesn't have to do this I sighed, too busy in the warm writing or dictating atrocious books.

So why am I not earning a living writing? Why do I continue to fanny about with random jobs and money making schemes. Because unless there is money on the table you cannot justify a baby sitter, you may as well ask people to cover whilst you take a daytime jaunt to the pub. I want to write for my supper , pen prose for a bigger house, buy my husband a Christmas present that has not been paid for from the proceeds of refuelling an aircraft or changing its tyres in a gale force wind.

Caring for kids is the toughest job I have ever done, and however rewarding it simply doesn't pay. I asked my son what my role was and he answered cooking and washing up. He doesn't remember me doing anything else. I want to inspire my children , lead by example , let Pearl see that women can earn a living as well as breed and nurture. I am an educated, flexible, resilient and creative woman looking for some work. Until that money is slapped onto the table ill keep on penning of an evening, my short story collection WILL be ready to download by the spring. In the meantime I am not averse to selling the odd nipple tassel in the snow. You never know, I may meet a literary agent, failing that my next lead character , no encounter is a wasted experience in the life of a writer.

So I may be little and I'm definitely a woman. The train destined for unemployable my be hurtling towards me but I am slipping off my heels and letting it pass. I'm not the little woman but a fighter , a writer refusing to drop the dream. Because upon closer inspection that train's destination is not unemployable but zero self confidence. Only I can stop that train flattening me in my tracks. I'm getting in the driver seat and beeping my horn. This mother is ready for action next stop literary acclaim, get your tickets ready this will no longer be a free ride. Toot, toot!

The imagery for the heel stuck in the rails was inspired by an afternoon trip to the post office as part of my office duties. I got a heel stuck in a pavement grill and had to be rescued by a woman who hands were clad in gold sovereigns. I later realised that I only had to slip off my shoe to escape. Nothing is wasted if you file it away.

Michelle Porter is looking for work....