I am at a place in my life whereby I feel I can start thinking about my future career. Obviously I would love to garden and write for a living but until that takes off I feel I need to study for something. I love to learn, I loved being at school and college, best days of my life. I love completing assessments and realising I have done better than I first thought. I am a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ girl so I do leave things to the last minute but I love working under pressure. Would possibly explain why I take on so many projects with so little time. But there is nothing better than saying you are busy, you have a list as long as your arm, you are tired from being so busy. Who wants to sit around doing nothing? I know people may think they do and I also know many people do but I just can’t. This became more apparent recently when I did damage to my right shoulder (I am right handed). Doctors are undecided whether it is the start of frozen shoulder or a cuff tear, I think this basically means they haven’t a clue. However it meant for four weeks I couldn’t do anything and now I am on light duties at home and at work. It is an absolute nightmare. I am so fed up of seeing all the jobs mounting up, sitting around resting my arm, not able to do majority of the jobs I want to because it either involves heavy lifting or movement that I just cannot do. I was hoping for some miracle recovery but sadly this hasn’t been the case.
With this in mind it reminded me of when I first looked to go back to work. I had a career, shorter than some, longer than most, but I had one, I was top of my game and earning a sizeable sum and did not need to worry how I was going to pay for the broken boiler, the new tyre, or the latest request for payment for some trip or another from school. I gave all this up to have my children and other than some part time work over the last 10 years that is pretty much what I have done, been a full time mother.
Now for those that may not see being a mother as a ‘proper’ job believe me it equips you with so many skills in a very short period of time, ones of which you have no idea you have learnt them until you realise you can suddenly do something you couldn’t before!
So a full time mum, a past career, a driving licence, relatively medically fit, no criminal record, volunteer work under my belt, member of the school governors and a job history with no breaks of employment until I had my children I thought I would be ok. I didn’t think I could go back into what I did straight away but I thought I would be ok. Oh was I wrong.
Apparently at 35 you are over the hill, according to temping agencies I visited I might as well find myself a comfortable spot on the scrap heap now. One even said they didn’t have any ‘unskilled work and their clients would only be interested in younger graduates’. Well excuse me for taking a career break to bring up my children!. I wasn’t actually looking to go back into the rat race. My youngest is just 2 but I felt I wanted to make a start so when she sets off to school I might be able to progress within my employment and further my career. I am open to training, I am a fast learner, I will put in the hours and other than having my children I have not been out of work! Apparently none of this is enough. Unless you are 22, been in education forever and willing to take bottom rate wages they aren’t interested. To be fair I wasn’t asking for a huge wage however I think for those sorts of positions a decent wage should be given. I felt I was worth a bit more than minimum wage but it came to light a trip round some temping agencies and a bit of job searching at the job centre left me demoralised. To add insult to injury when I went to sign on whilst I was looking for work I was told I did not qualify for job seekers because I hadn’t worked in the last two years. WELL YES I WAS HAVING CHILDREN! However I paid considerable tax and NI prior to that, does this not count? Obviously not!
So there I am out looking for work, not allowed to claim to be looking for work and unable to get anyone to accept me because of course I am over the hill!
I did find a job in a local supermarket and I do enjoy it, I like being in employment earning my own wage, I like meeting new people, having grown up conversations but I still feel that to many I am ‘just a mum’ and I still don’t feel I am being taken seriously. I have commitments at home which make ad hoc overtime with a moments notice difficult however I do put in the hours where I can and I work really hard when I am there and my work is praised but often I still feel and get the opinion ‘I am a mum’.
I am looking to go back to university but even that is a minefield. It is all done online, references required from school, a lot of my old teachers are dead. Qualification details and grades which I have to say some I have forgotten or a bit of a blurry past memory. I finished school in 1994, I doubt my records even exist anymore. So today I have been struggling through a UCAS application not having a clue whether I will get anywhere with it nor a clue what they actually want but actually desperately wanting to learn to make something of myself now my little ones are grown up. Does no one else do anything when their kids have grown up? Is there a gap where us mothers fall into and get lost in the system? I attempted a career advisory place but I am not under 25 so didn’t qualify for their help. So where do ‘older’ people go for advice, guidance?