Can I tell you a secret?
Ahem, here goes….the thing is, I’m not actually qualified to be a mother.
Ok there I’ve said it, my little secret is out. I’m mum to a four year old boy and fifteen month baby girl. And any moment now, I’m sure there’s going to be a knock at the door and some very official people in dark grey suits (not dissimilar to that scene in Matrix) will be standing there saying ‘We’re very sorry, it appears there’s been a terrible mix-up, but it’s come to our attention you haven’t got the slightest clue what you’re doing’. Busted!
In most other professions, there’s usually some sort of mandatory training or necessary qualifications that precedes the commencement of a role.But with the not-so-minor job of parenthood, you don’t get so much as a simple instruction manual or even a basic Ikea-style, ten step visual guide. Let’s face it people – there are actually little lives we’re responsible for here!
Frankly there oughta be a job description for the role of a parent, outlining a number of essential criteria that should be met before one ever sets foot into a maternity ward. Here, as I see it, are the minimum pre-requisites.
Job description & Person Specification
Responsible for: Your kids
Knowledge, Training and Experience
- Experience in management and disposal of toxic and bio hazardous substances. This may include but not be limited to – faeces (that of your child, other children, dogs, foxes and birds), urine, blood, vomit, saliva (copious amounts) and gallons of snot of every possible colour, form and consistency.
- Advanced food preparation skills. To be able to prepare meals (under high pressure conditions akin to those experienced in the Great British Bake Off tent) which include all major food groups, essential vitamins and minerals to promote good nutrition and enable a child to thrive but which, however, do not appear to contain anything remotely green, healthy or bear a passing resemblance to a vegetable. God forbid.
- Superior construction and den building skills. Using a basic sofa or kitchen table and old sheet as a starting point…and plenty of imagination thereon in.
- SAS style training in order to work in extreme conditions and under immense pressure (for example, operating whilst exhausted, over caffeinated and under excessive toddler interrogation – one example could include ‘mummy, mummy, mummy where is my train? Robot pyjamas? Bit of plastic tat I got in a party bag ten months ago. I need it now, now NOW!!!!! Why is….the sky blue? Why does chocolate melt? Why is 4 after 3? Why is it Tuesday? Why is the sun so hot? Why does God only know? Etc.)
- Negotiation and diplomacy skills. Experience in hostage and crisis negotiation highly desirable. Most notably when dealing with toddlers.
- Arbitration and peace keeping skills as well as experience in high-level diversionary tactics. Previous experience with the United Nations or ACAS would be ideal.
- Telepathy skills A.K.A ‘the ability to accurately interpret seemingly irrational child behaviour’. For example, knowing that when your eldest is bouncing off the walls, foaming at the mouth and losing his shizzle because you put his drink in yesterday’s absolute bestest cup, usually means he’s tired. Go figure.
Planning and Organisational Skills
- The ability to work for more than one ‘director’ with competing priorities. To deliver all requests to said bosses, however unreasonable such requests might appear and to do so without question or insubordination. And, without a GANTT chart.
- Psychic abilities / the ability to have foreseen and planned for every eventuality and weather conditions A.K.A supernatural contingency planning. And have all necessary equipment in your voluminous change bag to deal with said situation. Or Else.
- The ability to get yourself and more than one minor out of the house at some point during the day (morning preferably, but in most cases, this could extend to 3pm); all clothed, fed (jammy dodgers count), and armed with at least the following; bribery snacks, the must-have-favourite-toy-of-the-moment, a spare change of clothes, equipment to deal with some sort of toileting/nappy mishap, a full pack of wet wipes (bio degradable obvs.) a sticker book, colouring pens, an appropriate perambulation device, more snacks, water/juice (in favourite must-have bottle/sippy cup) your little darling’s snugly in case of unforeseen meltdowns or to induce a critically timed slumber, a distraction screen if all else fails, oh and your keys and wallet, if you must.
Personal Qualities / Interpersonal Skills
- To be highly creative and innovative with limited resources and under restricted time pressures. Examples include 24-hour costume creation for forgotten Roald Dahl day (I mean really?!!) / nativity play / the Easter bonnet parade (and to not give a rat’s arse at the splendid creation that clearly took weeks to prepare from darling Petunia’s Mummy); devising imaginative games for a preschooler on a long car journey to distract him from his suddenly burgeoning bladder five minutes after passing a service station; and providing a quick-witted response, when your young son asks why his baby sister doesn’t have the appropriate appendage, and if we can take the faulty goods back to the shop and get a refund?
- And then, the ability to deal with looooooong periods of utter, total, brain-melting, never-ending monotony. Day after day, after day.
Equality and Diversity
- To deliver all punitive action appropriately and fairly to your little charges, without discrimination or bias and definitely not in the manner of ‘Shouty Mummy’. Whilst at the same time recognising the individual needs of each child and overlooking when your eldest is being a ‘right little sod’ and your youngest’s infuriating penchant for gleeful eye gouging is wearing a bit thin.
- Office management and general administration (particularly of the school variety – think endless permission slips, relentless correspondence and keeping a constantly changing inventory of school clothing items which invariably need labelling, get lost, re-appear, become too tight, or fall apart from excessive and unsuccessful laundering).
- Time management skills/ appointment scheduling, e.g. medical appointments, after school clubs, playdates, swimming lessons, visits to granny, the daily school run and then mad dash to work combo; as well as getting all the mundane stuff like housework done (maybe) and not forgetting to slot in the baby’s naps around this relentless chaos. Simples.
- Advanced qualification in maths/chemistry /English/mandarin/phonics (delete depending on child’s homework that day, and nope you can’t just let Alexa do it, that’s cheating).
- Plus, to undertake any other tasks that may be deemed fit, as required by The Management.
Despite its numerous challenges and below minimum wage salary* the position, however, does provide certain benefits / amazing (read stomach-flipping) highs, as follows:
- When you’re having a hard day, feeling overly emotional and sobbing to ‘All By Myself’ on Magic FM, your little lad softly pads up and goes ‘can your best boy kiss it better mummy?’
- When your baby / toddler squeals in utter delight for a full-on ten minutes when they see a doggy (cue adorable baby signing for ‘dog’) / bubble machine in action / swarm of flies round some doggy doo doo.
- When your son asks if next time he can go on a ‘date night with you Mummy, instead of daddy’ (Awwwwwwww, son – you will make someone a fine husband one day!).
- When your little baby girl has finally fallen asleep (in your arms again, but hey, sleep training’s for another day) and lays there with such angelic purity, that your heart just melts into a puddle of liquid love. At this point any exhaustion is totally overlooked and you revel in a feeling of #soblessedness. *sigh*
Please note that breaks of any description, including lunch, toilet, fag breaks etc, will be incredibly rare to come by. If you do insist on having such breaks, you will most likely have several observers in tow, to ensure no downing of tools actually occurs.
Only applicants with slightly masochistic tendencies need apply.
*I.e the pay packet is diddly squat.