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Jack Knox: It's a mother of a job, but sign me up

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there! We wish you never-ending ­appreciation and recognition by children who always help out around the house, seldom give you an eye-roll and are never found passed out drunk face down in the driveway.
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One of the perks of being a mom: breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day (not a guarantee).

A formidably pleasant woman in well-tailored business attire, she shuffled through the files on her desk, pulled out the one with my name on it. “Good morning, Mister, um …

“Knox.”

“Right, so it is. I’m Ellen Fredaine, director of human resources here at FamCo. It says here on your application form that you’re looking to fill the position of …”

“Mother.”

“Pardon?”

“Mother. I saw in your ad that Canada is terribly short of mothers and FamCo has openings. Thought it might be the career for me.”

She paused. “Well, yes, it’s true that motherhood isn’t as common as it used to be, but are you sure you’re the right person for the job?”

I bristled. Here it was: ageism in action. “I can assure you that while there might be smoke on my roof, there’s still fire in the furnace,” I huffed.

“OK, most of the snow has slipped off the roof, but I think you’ll find me as vigorous as any 25-year-old. Or, at least, any 25-year-old with wonky knees, a bad back and a habit of falling asleep during Law and Order reruns.”

Flustered, she appeared to struggle to find the right words. “It’s not your age,” she said, almost sounding as though she meant it. “It’s just that most of our mothers are… women.”

It was my turn to pause. I took a moment to compose myself, then fighting to keep the edge out of my voice — asked, “Do you have a calendar?

“A calendar?”

“Yes,” I said, “I just wanted to make sure we weren’t STILL STUCK IN 1964!”

She soldiered on. “You know that we at FamCo also have ­several openings for fathers.”

“Tried it,” I shrugged. “Failed miserably.”

“Also,” she said, “there’s a whole array of options outside of FamCo. Canada is desperately short of family physicians….”

“Too much paperwork, stress and overhead.

“Truckers…

“Night blindness.”

“Ferry workers.…”

“Car alarms trigger me.”

“Really, the choices are endless,” she said. “The country had 915,000 unfilled jobs in the fourth quarter of 2021. That’s 80 per cent more than in 2019. Also, we’re looking at a massive retirement wave as Baby Boomers age out of the workforce. More than one in five workers is over 55. In 1996 it was one in 10. The typical teenage model is now 42 years old. OK, I made up that last one.”

“No,” I insisted, “I want to be a mom. Victoria has the lowest birth rate of any metropolitan area in Canada. Time for me to be part of the solution.”

She sighed. “Right, what do you need to know about being a mother?”

“What’s the starting wage?”

“Zero.”

“So, it’s like an internship?”

“Kind of.”

“How long does it last?”

“Oh, 60, maybe 70…”

“Days?”

“Years.”

“How much sick time do you get?”

“None.”

“Vacation?”

“Does sneaking a glass of wine while hiding in the laundry room count?”

“No.”

“Then none.”

“What are the hours like?”

“Twenty-five a day, starting with the two other jobs you hold down while trying to save for the down payment on a ­$1.4-million two-bedroom garden shed in Gordon Head. Then add in the time you spend as a cook, scullery maid, tutor, bus driver, accountant, paramedic, grief counsellor….”

“I don’t recall working those hours as a father.”

“I bet you don’t.”

“Can I work remotely?”

“Parenting is a home-based business.”

“No, I mean can I flee to the office when the kids are annoying me?”

“Great attitude, Mother Teresa.”

“Are there perks?”

“Yes, never-ending ­appreciation and recognition by children who always help out around the house, seldom give you an eye-roll and are never found passed out drunk face down in the driveway at 3 a.m., starfished in the traditional bracing-for-an-earthquake ­position.”

“Is that sarcasm?”

“Noooooo.”

“Are there any other perks?”

“You get breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day.”

“Eggs benedict, strawberry french toast and mimosas?”

“No, half a raw onion, two Twizzlers and a can of Red Bull. Unless you’re a vegetarian, in which case you’ll get bacon.”

“One more thing: Mother’s Day is a stat, right?”

jknox@timescolonist.com