parent opinion

In a job interview, I listed my strengths. "But that was before you had kids," I was told.

After four years of working freelance gigs since my eldest was born, I've made my first attempt back into the world of 'paid' work. 

My husband and I both freaked out when he was diagnosed with diabetes, and we decided I should attempt the 'breadwinner' thing, and he will focus on his health, home and kids. 

If you're the home parent, you'll know the 'health' part of that equation is a bit of a pipe dream. The most recent census stats prove that even 'breadwinning women' do considerably more domestic duties than men, who tend to believe their work finishes at knock-off time. 

Watch: A spoken word video starring Laura Bryne sharing the pressures that mothers face in their daily lives. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

After 5pm, the male species can be observed plopping themselves on the couch, eating, and wrestling with the kids during what should be a calm night routine.

You can imagine how excited I was at the prospect of working 9-5, coming home to chaos, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, and waking up to do it all again five days a week. But, how was I even going to manage this?

Regardless of the self-doubting, I got to it, applied for three jobs, and was over the moon when I got a call for an interview! I shared the news with my family and popped some bubbles as if I'd already secured the job. I ticked every box for this job... apart from having a womb. 

Interview day arrived, and my husband rushed around the mall to buy a new shirt for good luck, and I insisted on a light to pull off a perfectly lit video call. 

As I clicked on the link, nerves kicked in, and there they were, the General MAN-ager, and the photo manager. It was refreshing to see a woman heading the photography department until we got to the end of the interview. 

I had just finished proudly discussing my experience working for News Corp in Brisbane, the tight deadlines, and completing multiple jobs a day from one side of the city to the other. I wanted them to see how capable I was. If I got this job, my husband and I would make it work, and I had his full support. 

"But that was before you had kids," the photo manager said. 

To my surprise, the women asked this question, and the general manager followed with some more 'doubting my ability to work' questions.

Image: Supplied.


My stomach sank, and that's where the defensive compensating rambling began. 

"The kids are absolutely fine. It's my son's first day of school, and I have this interview, so it's meant to be," I replied in my nervous high-pitched voice.   

"But what about COVID? How did you handle lockdown with the kids?" the general manager asked.

"Like every other parent, if I couldn't do the job, I wouldn't be applying," I replied.

My husband warned me, but I refused to believe such archaic attitudes in the workplace still exist. After all, women can do anything. Have you seen what we go through to bring future taxpayers into the world?

I can't remember much after that interview snippet, as it completely threw me off. I was left feeling annoyed about being so damn polite and entangled in a shame spiral even though I did nothing wrong. I knew I didn't have the job based on those questions alone.

To make sure I wasn't overthinking the matter, I got some advice from a friend, an ex-recruitment manager in the public service. She said it's believed that COVID now justifies those questions. 

It was over a week until I got the rejection call, so I began my investigation by looking at who was taking photos for this particular newspaper. And there it was, they hired a middle-aged man who was so successful they couldn't believe he even accepted the job. Yawn.

Listen to Mamamia Out Loud below, a thrice weekly Mamamia podcast that's smart, often silly and sometimes surprising. Post continues after podcast. 

Being a mother doesn't change the years of study, the experience on the job, and the grit I developed from having to bust my arse to turn my passion into a well-paid job. So, yes, it would be challenging, but so is growing a human, losing all dignity, pushing them out of a vagina, and continuing to keep them thriving on the amount of sleep most men would refuse to get out of bed on.

As I sit writing this story in the gym cafe on two hours of uninterrupted sleep, I'm surrounded by mums who, after school drop-off, manage to get in a workout and do some hustling on their laptops before they head off. Only to not think about themselves again that day until the kids are finally asleep. And their partner has stopped talking about his so stressful day. 

At what point in history did we accept underestimating a mother's ability to do paid work and parent?

Feature Image: Supplied.

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