Occupation: Full-Time Mum

baby1_2622977b

My baby is turning 1 and as he grows and becomes more independent, I can’t help panicking at the thought that soon I’ll be back into the job market.

Unfortunately career wise, as we all know, an extended parental leave to raise another human being is considered a suicidal move. But, supposing I don’t want to lie in my CV, how can I put it otherwise, without mentioning the baby? For the last 12 months I’ve been working on leaving my mark on this world… seriously?

What if, instead, I’m proud to be a full-time mother and I think that this experience will have a positive impact on my work life? I mean, when I look back at all that I have learnt these last 12 months, I am awestruck. I am able to do things I didn’t think I could ever do. I have pushed and challenged my own limits in so many ways and I am really proud of who I am and what I have accomplished, so why hide it?

This past year I have worked harder than ever, and I believe that being a mother IS an occupation.

So here’s my Full-Time Mum’s CV!

Work Experience

FULL-TIME MUM (2014-ongoing)

I am responsible for my child’s intellectual, emotional and physical development, along with his general well-being.

  • able to work on 24/7 shifts
  • flexible attitude and positive approach
  • proven endurance on no-sleep
  • able to concentrate in noisy environment
  • excellent understanding of baby language
  • quick learning with no training
  • strong mentoring and motivational skills
  • able to plan ahead and manage time effectively

Areas of expertise:

  • crisis management
  • multitasking
  • negotiation
  • training and mentoring
  • team/relationship building
  • problem solving
  • child nutrition
  • first aid

Quite impressive, uh? And yet people think this isn’t a job.

Tuesday’s Inspiration: Patricia Arquette’s Oscar Acceptance Speech

patricia-arquette-oscars-acceptance

“We have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America!”

(and the rest of the world, I may add)

Look at Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez cheering loud and Shirley MacLaine smiling in the background!

streep-jlo

Go Patricia! Great speech!

Ad Wars: CHANEL n.5 VS Miss Dior

chanel-missdior

The latest ads for CHANEL n.5 and miss Dior fragrances have been released in time to boost sales for Valentine’s Day. Both brands have chosen the short film ad, with Chanel calling back director Baz Luhrmann hoping to replicate the success of 2004 Le Film, starring Nicole Kidman.

CHANEL n.5 The one that I want

Supermodel Gisele Bündchen goes surfing in a Chanel swimsuit and matching board to clear out her mind, after, presumably, a fight with her husband. She looks very troubled: she feels something is wrong, or maybe regrets something she said. So she hurries back to her mansion trotting on the private beach only to see her husband leaving the house, but instead of stopping him she changes her wet swimsuit to a silk gown and sadly watches the car pull out. Her daughter arrives pulling the nanny’s arm and she hides her worries behind a smile, while finally noticing the note he left her. We can read on the envelope “to my heart I must be true” but she leaves it on her dressing table preferring to put on lipstick and merrily spay some Chanel n.5 in the air, to her daughter’s delight. They wave goodbye and the little girl goes to school while Gisele goes to work. She’s a top model, in case you were wondering. During a pause in the photo shooting (the photographer is Baz Luhrmann) she finally reads her husband’s letter. He still loves her! She must go find him and tell him she loves him back! She leaves the set at once and drives, weeping, the deserted road to the city where she throws her car keys to an invisible valet and finally reunite with him in a Lynchian theatre where he has been waiting all day listening to a cover of a the Grease song that inspired his love letter. They kiss and smile, and they are happy and in love again!

My thoughts: the Chanel ad is the celebration of marital love, who can overcome some bad days (symbolized by the waves and Gisele surfing them) and be renewed by a date night in the city. Unlike the Kidman ad, here love and family come before work. The choice of Gisele as a testimonial is quite fitting: she embodies the modern woman able to balance a successfull carreer and the care of her happy family.

The target: they are trying to attract new customers: working women in their early thirties are the main target.

Miss Dior #itsmissactually

Natalie Portman opens the door to the hotel valet bearing her wedding bouquet “your flowers Madame” he says politely to the soon-to-be bride. “It’s miss actually” she replies drily. Next thing we know, she’s walking down the aisle at her father’s arm. She looks terrified. At the last moment she stops, looks behind and murmurs “I’m sorry dad” while placing a lily of the valley from her bouquet on his lapel. She walks away and the world turns from black and white to colours. She’s so relieved that she takes off her shoes to run even faster and gets rid of her lovely bouquet who falls to the ground. Suddenly she’s in the country (must have been running a lot) where she takes off her wedding gown, revealing a black strapless mini dress under it. She’s running again. Now she’s on a rock by the sea, waiting for a helicopter coming to her rescue. She mounts a rope ladder in a rose petals storm and flies in the sunset, while the helicopter pilot lasciviously kisses her on the neck.

My thoughts: I think that the idea here is to portray a young woman who choses to escape a path already set for her (marriage) to live a more adventurous life. What I see is instead a spoiled rich girl who runs away with her lover on her wedding day in a very theatrical way, embarrassing her father and showing us that in the end she’s not that independent, since she runs from a man to another.

The target: young women in their twenties I guess. Natalie Portman is way older though.

Conclusions: neither is selling the dream, but the Chanel ad is more consistent. Dior did best in ads without a real story but with a strong Parisian mood, like this one. Valentine’s sales will proclaim the real winner!

Busy 2014

2014fireworks

2014 was a busy year and I will certainly remember it as a time of big changes.

I have done lots of new things and I haven’t done at all what I was used to be doing. Feeling confused? Let’s make a list (I love lists!)

In 2014 I have:

  • given birth to my baby boy
  • relocated twice
  • lived in 3 different countries
  • taken 6 planes (with baby they count double!)
  • dedicated my spare time to learning
  • completed a Coursera MOOC
  • made new friends

In 2014 I haven’t:

  • worked outside the house
  • earned any money
  • slept 8 hours straight
  • read any memorable book

Whoa, listing it makes it even more odd!

Anyway, my wish for 2015 is just this: get a good night’s sleep. Because when you are nice and rested you can take over the world. Oh, yeah!

31 And Learning

Khan-Academy

After the first couple of tiring months, babies usually adjust to a routine: they feed less frequently and they sleep through the night (more or less). For me, this meant sleeping six hours straight or more, which led to not needing afternoon naps, which gave me a couple of free hours every afternoon. With a baby sleeping next room, this precious time can’t however be used as you might like: you can’t leave the house, no saxophone practice, no crazy cleaning.

At first I attempted reading books and catching up with my favorite tv shows (the girly ones my husband won’t watch with me), but I quickly grew bored. Then, I discovered Duolingo and my afternoons changed. I finally had a purpose: learn German.

Like I guess many other mums who decide to pause their career to care for their children, I feel scared for what will come next. I enjoy very much caring for my son, and even if now he’s only seven months old and needs me very much, in a blink of an eye he’ll become a big boy and I will need to start focusing again on my goals.

So what’s better than devoting your spare time to learning while you are at home not working? I mean, not only learning job related stuff, but learning just for the pleasure. What a great chance is that? I doubt I will ever work in Germany (who knows, anyway?) but it gave me such pleasure to understand and speak a few basic German sentences while in Frankfurt airport (“Sie ist ein Mädchen?” “Nein, Jungen!”). Plus, Duolingo is fun and quite addictive. You can also challenge your friends and keep track of their improvements (my mum is the champion, even though I managed to beat her for few weeks).

Learning is fun. Learning is addictive.

After Duolingo came Cousera, whose slogan is Learning without Limits. Coursera offer thousands of free MOOCs (massive open online courses) of higher or university level, and partners with Stanford, Princeton, Yale just to name a few. You can learn at your own pace, discuss with other students all around the world, take tests and even earn a certificate.

I started with Calculus I, which is a self paced course, meaning you can start whenever you want to. I did some calculus in high school but I was really bad in maths back then so, after watching two modules I realized that even if I understood the theory, I had great difficulties doing the test exercises. This was because I had (have) serious knowledge gaps in maths. What to do?

I paused my calculus course and signed up for Khan Academy.

Khan Academy changed my life. Seriously.

For some sort of gender discrimination, as a kid I was told that I wasn’t going to be as good as my brother in maths or in other science related fields, even though up to junior high I had the best grades in all subjects. Then in high school I encountered the first difficulties and I kind of gave up, having internalized that I was just not good at maths. Now that I am learning again that same stuff I feel a new person: learning boosts self-esteem.

I realized that there are no bad pupils: there are just bad teaching methods. Suppose you get a B on a test. You passed the test but you clearly have some knowledge gaps on the subject, like a slice of swiss cheese. Nonetheless the class moves on and what was a B most certainly will become a C on the next test, thanks to those swiss cheese holes we talked about earlier. When you don’t move at the same pace, you are simply left behind.

With Khan Academy you stay (or you return) on a given subject until you have mastered it and, best of all, learning at your pace means that you can watch a tutorial video as many times you want, pause it and get hints to solve a problem if you feel stuck. No one is there to judge you and frown when you fail and if you need to review a concept twice or more you won’t feel ashamed to ask as you might be if someone was actually there to teach you. It feels empowering to know that, even if you might fail at the beginning, eventually you’ll master that subject. And that applies to everything.

You can learn anything.