I realised yesterday that being a PA prepared me for motherhood, far better than any of the books and manuals I devoured whilst pregnant. It was the universe’s way of trying to prepare me for my current life of motherhood. Believe it or not, I used to be a Personal Assistant to Directors and Heads of Department in various financial institutions in London and York in the UK.
Being a PA requires certain skills as any Job Advertisement will tell you: Diary management; Travel coordination; Planning; Organising refreshments; Flexibility.
Here’s why my former life of being a PA prepared me for motherhood, in its current form.
As a mother, you are required to coordinate your children’s school activities, sporting activities, play-dates and social schedules, and this requires vast experience, patience and organisational excellence. This experience was only gained during my time as a PA, and thank goodness I have been able to dust the cobwebs of my mom brain off and call on my previous skills and successfully transfer them into my new life of servitude/motherhood!
Motherhood requires you to be on top of complicated travel itineraries. Whilst the landscape may have changed, and I no longer need to consider flight schedules and train timetables, I do need to plan ahead so that I know how I am going to get them from school, then to this one’s dance lesson, and back in time to take that one to swimming lessons, whilst also remembering to pick this up and drop that off. Motherhood it turns out, is extremely hectic and far more complicated than life as a PA and having to organise the travel requirements for four adults with different schedules that require I take into consideration network rail delays and changes to flight schedules!
Children expect you to ‘jump’ whenever they need refreshments, and in fact, “Mom, I need juice!” is actually far less respectful than “Would you mind getting us some coffees for the meeting at 10.00 please?” One of the duties I hated the most as a PA was getting coffees. Thank goodness the Directors I supported were really lovely, and they understood this, and on the rare occasion when they were extremely desperate for a coffee, they would all but beg me to get them a coffee. (I never said I was a ‘good’ PA!) Little did I know that motherhood would require me to ‘jump’ every two minutes to provide some kind of refreshment or sustenance to the two Directors I actually gave birth to!
Being a PA requires you to be flexible, not just in the hours you work but in being able to make changes to schedules and provide ad hoc support when required. Being a mother, requires that you are so flexible that you may as well be an olympic gymnast. In this one instance, I don’t think being a PA adequately prepared me for motherhood quite as well as the other examples I have given, but it did give me some basic training. Cancelling a train ticket and processing a refund is far easier than having to cancel your entire meticulously planned schedule at a moment’s notice because one of your Directors threw up all over the kitchen floor and you actually attempted to catch it with your bare hands.
What are the benefits I miss about being a PA?
- Having a reason to get dressed in uncomfortable clothes that look nice.
- Going to work, working, and then going home and not working!
- Money – I had some.
- Respect – I had some.
- Talking to adults who you can actually reason with.
- Annual Leave
- Hot Coffee
- Did I mention talking to adults?
- Sleeping at night
Given the choice, what would I change about being a mother?
- Nothing – except the vomit catching! I could do without that.
Thanks for reading. If anyone has any other examples you think I should add to this list, please let me know in the comments below.