Imagine a role where you were on call 24/7 with no overtime or time in lieu, where your job description includes being vomited and pooed on, and the stakeholders have the rest of their lives to discuss what you did wrong. And here’s the kicker – the salary is … well … $0 and the status is … well … invisible.
24 years ago I began a job for which I didn’t apply and definitely didn’t have the necessary qualifications or the skills. This is perhaps the most important job I will ever have, in both skills I have learned and its impacts on the stakeholders, yet I have never put this job on a resume or discussed in an interview. The job? Motherhood.
As mother (and for the last seven years, a single mother), I have been manager of a team, collaborated with my fellow manager, CFO, logistics coordinator, caterer, administrator and secretary (admittedly badly – yes, I would have sacked me), creative designer (particularly around book week and school productions), nutritionist, nurse, tutor and counsellor. Thankfully the role of IT manager has naturally fallen to the stakeholders themselves.
As a project manager, I have managed numerous house relocations, overseas travel for stakeholders, Christmas and birthday celebrations by meeting deadlines, setting timelines and meeting budget. And while managing might seem like the creative use of this term, without the reality of my management these projects would not have been completed successfully. We have successfully moved house, we have never gone hungry or not paid rent, stakeholders have returned from their travels in one piece and all are now thriving.
As the stakeholders have grown and my collaborator and I both have new collaborators, I have also become a negotiator, adding active listening and non-violent communication to my list of skills. Working towards outcomes that bring the whole team forward is a key component in this new role.
My active listening and interpersonal skills can be demonstrated by the countless hours I have spent listening to my stakeholders’ concerns, interests, heartbreaks, obsessions, anxieties, depression, anger, fears and successes. Success in these skills is clearly demonstrated by the coherence and functionality of the whole team, including all collaborators.
My skills in logistics and operations management can be demonstrated by getting three stakeholders to three different schools, mostly with lunch in bag and breakfast in the belly, followed by me making it to my business. Then managing transport to the different after school activities, often at different sides of the city.
My capacity to simultaneously manage different projects with different demands is clearly demonstrated by the multitasking nature of the role defined as a mother. And while my administrative and secretarial skills are a work in progress, enough notes have been signed and forms completed that we are still afloat.
All of this while managing a chronic health condition that has seen me in an electric wheelchair and several long stays in hospital, retraining, building a micro-business teaching yoga and meditation to people in crisis, writing and marketing a book and contributing to my community by volunteering and charity fundraising.
As a mother, I have learned and developed invaluable skills in the management of individuals, team building and capacity building but I have never referred to them in my ‘professional’ life. However, there is no doubt in my mind that these skills, this ‘job’ has informed and contributed invaluably to my business role as therapeutic yoga teacher and yoga therapist.
It is now my paid job to nurture people to wellbeing, engage with organisations to build resilience, capacity build for all stakeholders, engage in active listening for clients and students and design programs that will best serve individuals, groups and organisations. I have project managed the release of two editions of my book, A Journey to Peace through Yoga, from conception through writing, pitching and marketing. I have taught on yoga and meditation teacher training, given many public speaking presentations and been interviewed for print, radio and television.
I now offer immeasurable value into my community and none of it would have been possible without the experience and skills I gained through the most important and longest position – mother.
So why haven’t I included this most important role in my resume? On reflection I think I have perceived the society I am applying into does not value this lynch-pin role in creating community. This may or may not be a correct perception but regardless, in holding this belief I have limited my own valuing of my role as a mother, while denying others the opportunity to also recognise its value.
As I look back on this nearly 24-year role, I realise it’s time to include this role of ‘Mother’ in my CV because, while the dollar salary was zero, the actual salary was and is life and love.
Lynnette Dickinson is the author of A Journey to Peace through Yoga, and teaches yoga, relaxation and meditation in Canberra and via Skype or phone. Classes, personalised programs and yoga therapy.