Matthew Munson: Careers then, now and in the future

Matthew and Bryan

We hosted an unwanted visitor at Casa de Munson this week – a virus that made Bryan feel a bit unwell and left him with a lingering (and mild) case of laryngitis. A pest, a pain, and an unwelcome guest. He’s getting better, and I have been on hand to act as Nurse Dad.

Looking after your child when they’re ill is absolutely one of life’s natural instincts. It’s horrible to watch them in discomfort, and you’d give anything to see them well once more. I wish I could wave a magic wand to make him better, although preferably without passing it onto me; I do not make a good patient.

So half-term has passed quietly. A mooted trip to visit family has had to be postponed, and we have spent some time playing board games. Time spent with my son is never wasted, so you won’t hear any complaints about that from me.

I enjoy spending time with my son. I work part-time specifically so I can be present for him. I worked full-time pretty much all the way from eighteen through to the time Bryan came home, and then took an eight-month break to devote all of my attention to this new relationship. Since then, my working pattern has looked very different, and it’s lovely; Bryan and I both need it all to work like it does. I wouldn’t want to not work, as it keeps my brain active, but I always want to devote time to my son until such time as he starts to do his own thing more and more. That time will come.

My first full-time job was at Broadstairs Library (after doing a few months part-time at Margate Library), and that was a lot of fun. I spent three and a half years working in local libraries (I think at one time or another I worked in all eight of them), and I genuinely enjoyed the vast majority of my time there. There were gripes and frustrations, it goes without saying, but I am genuinely positive about the times I got to spend helping people.

I never set out with a particular career path in mind. When I was a teenager, I wanted to be a chef … an actor … a police officer … a nurse … a doctor … a firefighter … a journalist, like my dad … probably more, but I can’t remember them all. The only thing I really liked all the way through my teens was writing, but it took me a long time to realise that an ordinary person like me might be able to get published as well. The job title “writer” isn’t my only job title, and I quite like the opportunities my work gives me. Working for a children’s charity and being expressive with my writing fulfils me, and also allows me to show my son that it’s important to find something that suits your skills.

He’s a lovely dancer, if I do say so myself, and I’m so proud of him. He goes to dance lessons every week, and to see him so passionate about something is a joy. If he is able to be a dancer for the rest of his career, what an opportunity that would be for him. If, for whatever reason, that doesn’t happen, then I’ll encourage him to find something else he cares for. I’m 42, and I’m still striving to learn and improve my own skills. Part of my role with a children’s charity involves social media, an area of communication that didn’t even exist before the technological revolution surrounding the world wide web – and wasn’t even a concept when I started my job in the libraries in 1999.

I find myself wondering what the world of work will look like in twenty or thirty or forty years time. What will exist then that doesn’t exist now? What careers will my grandchildren have? I find those thoughts quite exciting, although the thought of retiring at 67 … or 69 … or 71 … is a little daunting. Mind you, if I’m doing something I love, will I want to retire? Perhaps I’d make the shift back to part-time again rather than retire completely.

Who knows. But I’m sure that my career is nowhere near finished.