Let’s go out and play

Girl from the East has a new best friend and it’s a boy.

They secretly became best friends in preschool, unbeknownst to all the parents involved.

The first blush of spring delivered news that Girl and Boy were now best friends. I remember my surprise because I’d never seen the two of them so much as look at each other at school. I considered it a passing fancy.

A week later, Boy’s mother called and said Boy just had to have a play date with Girl. So, we scheduled one. All went well. Many more followed. Sometimes we had to peel them apart when the play date was over. We declared their friendship “adorable” and “sweet.” At preschool graduation, we figured the friendship would be forgotten; Boy and Girl were going to different elementary schools in the fall.

The phone calls started mid-September. First, from the mom saying that Boy, who was sad, had written notes and colored pictures for Girl during summer break. Then, the dad, when I bumped into him at the grocery store, told me that Boy was begging to have a play date with Girl because he was worried that he’d never see her again.

Yesterday was the second big play date of the school year for these two.

I took Boy and Girl to a nearby nature preserve tucked along a small river twisting through a neighborhood. Indian summer spread its buttery glow over the forest, scattering orange and red confetti to the wind, stirring the hunt-and-gather instinct. Red squirrels with nut-stuffed cheeks scampered over the leaf and stick carpet and clambered up tall oaks, barking at us as we passed underneath.  Ducks paddled along the lazy river’s edge, following us with hope of a food reward. Boy and Girl, oblivious, ran races along the dirt trails, stuffed their backpacks with leaves, slid through muddy patches, threw acorns in the river, teased the ducks, found a grassy hill and rolled down like logs, then discovered a playground and played hide-and-seek until the sun cast long shadows across the lot.

I snapped a lot of pictures. I smiled a lot.  I thought about why these atypical pairings grab our attention. When Girl has one of her gal pals over, I think nothing of the hugging and hand holding and proclamations of never-ending devotion. When this happens with a boy, I add a heavy dose of my own romanticism and idealism to it.

Here’s the thing: Boy-girl play dates are so much easier to referee, at least for this mother of two daughters. They just — play. There’s no squabbling over who gets to wear the sparkly princess tiara during dress up or who gets the Malibu Barbie when they’re playing doll house.

This little slice of sweetness between Boy and Girl is different for me and it’s been a joy to watch. It’s a reminder that there are moments of pure bliss in life, when your legs will take you anywhere, when your eyes are open to everything, when wonder and adventure await around every bend in the path.

Go outside and play with your best friend.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Pulled apart

Are these the end days of this blog?

I’m not sure what to do. I don’t even like the name. I regret ever putting “mom” into the URL. It’s a deal killer for some people, you know?

I do not regret blogging. I’m proud of what I’ve written here. I’ve met a few of you and it’s been a gratifying experience connecting a human being to powerful words. When I jumped in five years ago after trading my career for stay-at-home motherhood, I did so because I missed writing, being part of a creative team, being with grown-up people who collected paychecks.

I thought this blog was the start of “something.” I had hours to fill. I was lonely. I needed a focus outside of diapering, feeding, and housewifery. I thought writing about my life would be enough. It took a long time to make connections and earn readers. Sometimes I wanted to give up.

But, I persevered. Luckily some folks noticed, made me feel I had a reason to keep posting. I learned that blogging is like dating. Sometimes you’re hot. Sometimes you’re not. How many times have I developed a crush on one of you only to wake one morning next to a cold pillow?

Five years later, as I prepare to send my baby to kindergarten, as my oldest daughter spins farther out of the family orbit, as my husband and I figure out what to do with our 2012 plan to move to Colorado that will have to wait a few more years, my blog sits in the corner begging for attention and pressure builds to find something to do with myself.

I’m split. My head yearns for new projects, challenges, stimulation. My heart is heavy with the knowledge that my baby will be in the hands of the education system, leaving behind a silence in the spaces we occupied for a thousand or so days. My hands and feet itch to move about freely during the day without concerns of child care, feeding schedules, nap time, and never-ending messes. My nerves jangle with the upcoming projects and commitments to which I’ve already said yes.

Will I go back to work? To what? My industry imploded a few years ago. What remains are shards reflecting very little of what I knew, what I learned. I’m outdated. The debris of its ruin are fashioned into something new, something I’m not sure I really want to take part in anymore. I’ll need retraining, schooling, updating.

I’m torn. I’ve gotten to know my community and not just live in it. I volunteer. I’m thinking of joining the community farm. I’m part of a network of families and friends who hold each other up.  In spite of all my efforts to keep a safe distance — since we knew we were relocating thousand of miles west of here — I’ve opened my heart to this town and its people. My heart is no longer safe. Yet, another part of me stirs with longing to move on.

Right now my Girl from the East is playing dress up. She twirls on the hardwoods in her purple tutu and sparkling shoes, a magic wand keeping time to Sonic Youth. She’s enjoying her last days of spontaneity. I’m enjoying my last days of winging it as I please, too.

My heart all at once aches for the impending changes and flutters with excitement of the unknown.

Reading the various posts from BlogHer ’11, one of the barometers of this medium,  I feel I’ve steadily become irrelevant in a blogging world I never really fit into. I’ve yet to  brand myself (I did burn my forearm on the iron last week. Does that count?) I’m just writing, and anonymously at that, not selling, promoting, marketing or collaborating. Maybe I’ll come out of the closet.  In six months it won’t matter.  My custodial agreement expires. I can fuck the universe if I please and I won’t have to worry about answering to an officer of the court.

If nothing else, this blogging experiment, whether I keep it as it is, reinvent it, or put it away with the baby things, was part of my stay-at-home motherhood. I’ve created a historical record. And a few people actually took the time to read it. Thank you. That’s still amazing to me.  I didn’t find fame or fortune. I didn’t become a household name. Does it matter, really?

I’m torn. I’m split. I’m going in all the directions.

Thankfully, I know how to sew.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

The sweetest thing

During a much-needed mom’s night out with wine, food, and good conversation I learned that the A word and my Girl from the East came up with one of the families from our school.

Adoption arose as part of a much larger context, one encircling the areas of family resemblance, dominant traits, and individual uniqueness. It seems too complex for the preschool set, but now is the time when our children’s eyes open even wider to notice such things as tallness, blondeness, bigness, and differentness.

Specifically, the question of what makes boys different from girls, and how African-American kids in the class look different from the Caucasian kids led to how some families are tall and thin and some are short and wide and how some kids have two daddies or two mommies or some other defining trait.

“Like your friend, (Girl from the East),” the mother explained to my daughter’s playmate. “You’ve noticed she looks different from her mother. That’s because she’s adopted.”

“She doesn’t look different from her mom,” my daughter’s friend insisted.

“Well, yes, she was born in China. She is Chinese,” the mom continued.

“Noooo,” the young friend asserted, shaking her head. “She looks just like her mom.”

My heart warmed as I listened to this story.

That is the sweetest thing.

It never occurred to me that we could be regarded in that way, even if it is through the rose-colored lens of youth.

This is, of course, the portrait of our love for each other; we are blind to our differences. I think Girl from the East has my husband’s eyes and disposition. I know she has my penchant for perfection.  I don’t know where she ends and I begin.

When I look at my girl’s smooth cheeks, inky black eyes, and cupid’s bow mouth, I see our history reaching all the way back to that smoky, crowded government office in Nanchang, China, when I first accepted her slight form into my arms. Her long limbs, elegant fingers,  and thick, silky hair remind me of her birth family as none of us possess those traits.

It occurred to me that it has been years — years! — since anyone has asked any of us if we belong together. In the beginning, it was a constant affront.

And now, the court of opinion has grown to include  one very astute five-year-old.

That is the sweetest thing.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Hey, what happened to my garden?

By Mozzercork via Creative Commons

I’m reading quite a bit online lately from other bloggers about the state of blogging. They ask: What’s next? Why am I still doing this? Should I be making money and growing my following?

Some have closed their blogs. Others have renamed and relocated under new identities. Some have cut back on their posting frequency. Some have changed the focus of their sites.

Lately I’m regarding this site as I do my seasonal garden. It goes through cycles, from birth and the early excitement of new growth, to the steady maintenance of its peak season, to the realization that the peak is followed by a slide toward dormancy. I don’t know what I’m going to do next. What I do know is that my life today is nothing compared with what it was when I started this blog in May 2007. Back then I had hours to burn. I was lonely and bored.

Today, I am more like a sweating and exhausted gerbil on a squeaky treadmill. My blog always seems to be on the other side of the glass enclosure. I start a post and something else comes up. I hit save and click away or close the lid of the laptop.

My blog is not the only thing that suffers.

Last week? I  almost missed Girl from the West’s road test due to a misguided attempt to multi-task on a rainy Saturday.

And then, later on after she passed the road test, I could not take her to get her first, official driver’s license because I could not find her Social Security card.

After that, I took her shopping for her homecoming dress and accessories. When we came home, being the neurotic that I am, I quickly gathered up all the plastic bags and boxes and broke them all down and placed them in the recycling bin and trash can. I used one of the plastic bags to empty the cat litter pans.

A day later, Girl from the West notices that one of the items is not working properly and should be returned to the store. Except … the box is cut into pieces the bag is filled with cat poop and the receipt is buried under the aforementioned cat waste. Furthermore, the garbage and recycling trucks have already made their rounds. All of it is gone.

Needless to say, she is more than angry with me. I’m angry with me, too.

Does it sound lame to say I once was an organized person? I was. I had to be. It was part of my job to be an organized multi-tasker.  I was organized enough to complete the tiring, complicated paperwork process of international adoption.

When we crossed the threshold into our home as a family of four, my organization fell to the floor along with the sour-smelling clothes from that 13-hour flight. I have not been able to get that mojo back.

What I’ve learned is that being the mother of two children, including one whose work and school are 25 miles from my house,  has proved to be my breaking point.  What I’ve learned is that in my hope of finding my place in the world, which I thought was not the workplace but maybe at home, is now up in the air. I cannot go back to the cubicle world. Being a stay at home mom has not been a highly successful endeavor for me, either. I’m hoping to find a balance somewhere.

I’m not sure what has happened. Is it mid-life brain rot? Is it the stress of the economy?  Is it because I can’t accept the reality of my situation and I keep thinking if I do this, sign up for that, join this group, I’ll find the glue I need to bind it all together?

I’ll keep you posted.

It might be a while.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Post Father's Day post

Photo from MZ archives

Yesterday was Father’s Day. It’s an easy day for us as there is only one father on which to heap all the attention. (Father-in-law lives out of town; father is deceased.) My husband is a lucky man, getting yesterday all to himself. Mother’s Day is tougher, what with all those mothers elbowing for the spotlight. I need to claim a super-secret Mother’s Day all to myself.

In honor of my late father, I composed the following list:

Things I learned from my father:

  • Know how to read a map.
  • Plan your route before you leave.
  • Have a back-up plan.
  • Deviate from the main road and enjoy.
  • Develop an intimate relationship with nature and respect its rules. (Dad regularly took us on vacation to a private cabin in northern Michigan where we lived a week or longer without electricity, running water or heating/cooling.)
  • Don’t be over-reliant on technology or modern conveniences. (See above. My father was a major technophobe. I don’t know how he would regard today’s 24/7 connectivity. He didn’t much like it when cordless phones came around.)
  • You can’t have too many good books or good records.
  • Don’t underestimate the healing power of a Sunday drive to somewhere interesting.
  • Fill idle hands with books, brooms, rakes, paint scrapers and brushes. My father had an amazing work ethic. The only time he rested was either to admire his work or to assess the damages. (He was suspicious of idle TV viewing, sunbathing and other mindless pursuits.)

Things I learned indirectly through my father:

  • Humor is an essential ingredient in almost every situation, but particularly in those that challenge your patience and sanity.
  • Humor has both healing and hurting power. Use with care.
  • Never part ways in anger.

Things I wish I’d taken the time to learn from my father:

  • Our family history
  • How to plant and maintain a perennial garden
  • How to grow organic fruits and vegetables
  • How to read the stars
  • Don’t believe everything your parents tell you.
Enhanced by Zemanta

I don't know how to parent my teenager

Photo by Fran Ulloa via Creative Commons

After her dramatic entry into this world, I held my firstborn in my arms and felt her weight free of my body for the first time. This separation was the first step in a long walk toward total independence. As I inhaled her scent, ran my fingers across her velvet skin, and gazed at her scrunched-up little face, I asked: Who are you?  Who will you be some day? I sensed her individuality emerging even in those tender moments. She was her own person. Who she’d be someday was already determined by genetics. I was only there to provide food, clothing and shelter and to discourage her from choosing serial killer as a career.

While it took a number of years for her self to be fully realized, back then it was a far-off concept. Back then, she was pink and chubby. She cooed and gurgled and curled into me when I held her. Back then I thought we had an unbreakable bond. As I reveled in the reflexive squeeze of her tiny fist around my finger, I fantasized about a future with us lunching together, dancing barefoot in the rain and sharing secrets.

Never in those baby-powder scented days could I have imagined a person who’d recoil from my touch, who’d stuff ear buds in her ears to drown out my conversational chatter, who’d slam a door in my face before I could finish a sentence or who’d pull the plug so swiftly and surely on all lines of communication to render me unworthy.

I thought it would be different between us. I was going to be a different mother. She was going to be a different daughter.

I thought if I did exactly the opposite of what my mother did, those things that ripped a hole in our compatibility, that the opposite would result.

I thought wrong.

Maybe there is nothing anyone can do to prevent this inevitable phase. I have no idea how to parent my teenaged daughter. No clue. It’s gotten to the point where I dread the days she is at my house. Not because I don’t love her. I do with a fierce passion. I dread those days because they result in a tsunami of emotions that overwhelm the entire household. No matter how Zen I try to be with her, to just experience the frustration and ride with it, to avoid throwing fuel on the fire, to be the adult, the bigger person, it always ends up the same: one or both of us shouting or in tears. It always ends with me venting to my husband or one of my friends or the Internet.

Further complicating matters, she lives with me four days out of the week. So, the remaining days, she’s getting an entirely different message, living within an entirely different dynamic. It’s like a looping weather pattern, as our family travels in and out of the eye of the hurricane. Calm for a few days, and then an emotional onslaught so debilitating at times I question my strength to get through the day. And she’s a good kid, really. She’s not into drugs or drinking. She’s a solid student. I cannot fathom what I’d do if I had a juvenile delinquent on my hands.

I’ve been at the gym a lot lately. Sweating away my frustrations on the cardio equipment and weight machines. I’ve been meditating like a maniac, hoping the calm achieved might give me some added mileage.

I’ve been searching online for tickets to South America.

No. Not really.

Some of it is normal teen angst, I’m sure.

Some of it is the particular suckiness that is parenting through joint custody.

Some of it is a middle-aged mother who realizes her oldest child is a mental gymnast. She is very much her father’s daughter: He is the master of debate, the fan of forensics, worshipper at the altar of logic. I hate conflict and endless debate. They live and breathe it. This personality clash led to the dissolution of my first marriage. What, then, do I do about a mother-daughter relationship built on the same shaky foundation?

I’m waving the white flag of resignation: I don’t know how to do this.

I don’t have answers. I welcome heartfelt suggestions.

I leave you with this link to a smart piece I heard on PRI’s “This American Life.” Listen to Act III: family dysfunction has a long and colorful history.

Once a workaholic …

… always a workaholic?

Is this true?

Until a little more than three years ago, I worked full-time outside the home. When I wasn’t working full-time, my schedule was a combination of full-time school and part-time work.

To those who work full-time it may seem like a dream to be home for three years. At first, I thought so, too. I allowed myself big blocks of time to get caught up on TV shows and movies, to nap when my baby napped, to go on long walks. We went away on long weekends and enjoyed life to the fullest.

Then, the guilt began creeping in. Most of it self-induced. I realized I didn’t exactly feel comfortable with an unstructured life. I needed deadlines and commitments to get things done. Somehow having every day of the week to go to the zoo or the park made it less special.

Now, I have filled almost every block of time in my week with something, whether it’s time for work (when it comes my way), volunteer commitments, working toward personal goals, and the ever-present house and yard work and child care. It’s like I dread an unplanned expanse of time.

When I worked full-time, I was famous for bringing my work home, taking on projects, staying late, and coming in on weekends. I suppose in the beginning it was designed to get ahead. In the end, it was a curse. It did not lead to promotions. It led to more work because I was known as the go-to person for this stuff.

It’s easy to  blame all this on my upbringing. My mother and father always kept busy. They didn’t allow their children to wile away an afternoon. If you were home, you were upright and holding something with a handle: a broom, a rake or a paintbrush.  If you were caught empty-handed, you were given a broom or a rake or a paintbrush.

In some regards, I’m glad they passed on to me this work ethic. (I wish I could pay it forward to my children. Direct requests are always a battle. teaching by example only seems to work with my preschooler.)

Yet, I wonder sometimes why I deny myself basic pampering and selfish “me” time. I’ve literally been at the salon or in a bookstore and felt the weight of guilt bear down on me so heavily I have the urge to flee.

Is there hope for me?

This post brought to you by the lovely Brenda and Flog YoBLogFriday. Click on over and enjoy:

mummytime

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Back on the other side again — sort of

fence

By evelynishere via creative commons

This week I had a revelatory moment. It struck me as I was walking into a building and caught a glimpse of my reflection in the plate glass. I saw a smartly dressed woman with a laptop bag slung over her shoulder.

“Where have you been the last three years?” I asked the mirror image as I pushed the intercom button to announce my arrival.

As the door buzzes open, I consider how it feels to wear a black dress with flowing red scarf tied loosely around my neck, stockings, heels and all-business glasses. Even if I feel a little shaky on the inside, I have all the right props. No one here will have any idea that I haven’t done this full-time in three years.

I was glad to leave my current persona at home for a while. I liked wearing my old self even if just for a day.

I love my children. I love my husband. But they cannot define me and be enough for me. I need a little more. It feels good to be working again.

Several weeks ago I accompanied my husband on a business trip to Chicago. Mostly I did it to get away. Partly I did it to witness the presentation I’ve been hearing about, and helping him with in small ways, for more than a year. Afterward the organizers invited us to dinner at a popular restaurant in the downtown business loop.

While I’d secretly hoped for a quiet dinner for two, so I didn’t have to worry about how many glasses of wine I’d ordered, and I could kick off my uncomfortable shoes under the table, it wasn’t to be. Instead I felt “on” since it was more of a business dinner. I had to watch my words and not get all, well, the way I can get sometimes.

After a few exchanges of pleasantries I was asked: “So, what do you do?”

I mentioned my  part-time freelance business that is temporarily full-time.

“Oh, so mostly you are just a mommy then.”

Why the instant leap? Why the dead-end of conversation once the leap is made? I felt crushed.

Mommy — not even mom or mother — mommy! was said the way someone might spit out the word pedophile.

And I had thought the guy was pretty nice at first.

Just this week I logged on to Facebook to find a so-called friend had sent me some application quiz that determined my dream job was to be a wife and mother. Huh? First of all, this person knows I’m trying to return to the workplace. Where  this whole you-are-better-off-at-home sublimation comes from I’ll never know. Rather than fire back some snarky remark, I just deleted the whole post.

But back to this week: I check in at the front desk, hand over my business card and announce who I am. Then, I’m led down a long, polished corridor that winds its way to the CEO’s office to conduct a joint interview with two high-ranking members of this organization.

I was taken seriously. I engaged in adult conversation, discussed plans, strategies and  deadlines. I had a schedule to juggle, appointments to confirm and my planner was bleeding ink to the margins. It all felt so natural. People were paying attention to me. I wasn’t so-and-so’s mother or somebody’s wife. Not that those things are bad but I do have a name and my own identity. Motherhood and marriage can shove those things to the back of the closet.

That’s the upside.

The downside: My poor, poor house is a wreck. Tasks both inside and outside sit uncompleted. There are three family birthdays fast approaching, not to mention the whole holiday stress-fest.  I have a mother who feels ignored, a visiting brother who feels slighted and probably a husband and two daughters who feel they’re not getting the service they’ve grown to enjoy.

Sorry, folks.

This is my first big paid gig and I feel the need to do a good job, to be viewed as dependable, reliable and able to deliver on time, as promised when we set our terms in September.

It feels good to have a task, a deadline, responsiblity. I’m hoping these seeds planted will nurture a larger garden of opportunity down the road. If nothing else, I learned what I needed to do to be successful working from a home office.

I’m on the other side  — even though it’s a short visit.

And I like it.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

World, please be kind

kind

It doesn’t happen often.

But, it happens.

It’s not going to stop.

Ever.

“Excuse me,” is how it begins. When I have a loaf of bread in hand, examining ingredients and calorie counts. When I’m loading my car in a windswept parking lot. When I’m at the community center watching my girl leap and jump and twirl.

“Would you mind telling me,” they ask:

a.) Is that little girl yours?

b.) Where did you get her?

c.) How long did it take? How much did it cost?”

Most of the time, the questions spill out of the mouths of well-meaning folks. Maybe they are considering adoption but haven’t done the research. Maybe they are in the process and want to compare notes or seek reassurance that their dreams soon will be realized. Maybe they never learned about boundaries.

Once upon a time I lived on the other side of the fence.

I remember when:

a.) The concept of adoption first slipped through a small opening in my wounded heart. Suddenly I saw adoptive families everywhere. I desperately wanted to know how that child became a part of that family.

b.) We were in the process and we would see a newly formed family so absorbed in their attachment process, that I couldn’t bear to pierce the bubble they’d built around themselves. Besides, at that point I knew where to go to ask questions and find families more than happy to share their journey.

c.) We were waiting for what felt like a century for our referral to come in. The longer the days and weeks stretched out, the more painful it became to see a happy adoptive family having dinner at a restaurant or shopping for school supplies at Target. I had an almost uncontrollable urge to approach these families and just be with them, hoping their good fortune would rub off on me. I wanted their assurances, support, and blessings. I never gave in to those urges.

Now, when I’m approached, I feel two things at once. I am both flattered and annoyed.

I’m flattered that our family story is of interest to others.

I’m annoyed that someone couldn’t find a more discreet way to satisfy his or her curiosity. (To be fair, many truly interested people have pulled me aside out of my daughter’s earshot or used less confrontational methods to convey their interest. In those cases I am more than happy to be accommodating.)

I understand what it means to be inquisitive for personal research, to have heartache for what I have, to have sincere curiosity. I try to answer questions quickly and refer people to the Internet or a local adoption agency. I remind myself that when we signed up for this, we knew we were stepping into a spotlight of sorts, that we would be perceived as spokespeople for this journey. I try to remember that my daughter is watching and listening to how I respond.

But sometimes people are just plain rude and cross the line of decency. It is no more acceptable to approach someone in a wheelchair and blurt, “Where’s your other leg?” then it is to act as if my child is invisible and ask, “How much did she cost?” as if she were sold in the bulk food aisle.

Please don’t reduce my child to a commodity.

Once, I asked a woman how much her biological children cost her, because after all, no child arrives without a price tag.

I wish it would stop. But it won’t.

We are conspicuous only to you. What we see is our beautiful child. What she sees is her loving family.

The world, however, has its eyes wide open. The world, without meaning to, will burst our bubble.

Last week my Girl from the East started her first year of preschool. No longer is she safely cocooned in our fuzzy, pink bubble of attachment, with her mother and father to deflect the world’s arrows and daggers. No longer is she sequestered in her Mandarin school with look-a-like families and abundant tolerance.

Now my girl will begin to tell her own story and see how the world receives it. Now we must build her strength and pride and keep it strong. Now we must fortify our own resolve for the eventual hard knocks that all children face.

World, please be kind to my girl.

Give me the strength and wisdom to do the right thing when the world doesn’t honor my wishes.

Frustration

frustration

image by runningkate

I’ve lost things lately:

  • my favorite plastic sports bottle, a souvenir of my snow camping experience
  • my sterling silver hoop earrings
  • my mind

Also, I’ve lacked focus:

  • Literally. I need bifocals. I’m pretending I don’t. The faking it isn’t working anymore and it’s making me look feeble. I hope that explains all the typos in my comments around the blogosphere. I hope that explains all the pasta on the tablecloth at lunch the other day.
  • I’m job hunting outside my field of work. Where to direct the confused self when the forest trails are marked either Overqualified or Underqualified? Some days I’m resigned to signing on with Merry Maids or dressing in red and khaki and enlisting in the Target army. Other days I feel a strong desire to go to grad school and follow dreams. Some days I just shop for a roomy refrigerator box to call home.

Job hunting sucks. I’ve had it too easy all my life. I’ve almost always slipped seamlessly from one position to the next. Even during the rare times when I had a gap in my work history, I filled it with temp work.

Now I’m a woman who is halfway to 90 (as one of my drama queen contemporaries likes to say) and almost three years gone from the workplace. My line of work is no longer an option. I have a young child and outside help one day a week. This job search is like riding a bike up a mountain with one leg.

As Dr. Phil would ask: How’s that working for you?

Not so well, Phil. It’s hard to keep the momentum when you have six days between efforts.Until I find work, I can only use FREE babysitters. So far, I’ve found one who’s willing to give one day a week. I’m grateful for the day but one day does not a job search make.

I live in the state with the highest unemployment in the nation. I’m trying not to let that get me discouraged. Much.

I remain hopeful. I joined a babysitting co-op. My little one starts part-time preschool next week. Something has to give.

Job hunting in 2009 is not the same as it was in the late ’80s and early 1990s. Then, it involved typewriters and telephones. It involved pieces of paper, bulletin boards, classified advertising sections of the newspaper and talking to friends and family.

No one I know seems to have any clear answer for today’s big hunt. Get a Web site, they say. So I did. Create your own personal brand, carve out your niche, they recommend.  Still working on that one. Get on social media and work that bitch daily. I do. Although sometimes it feels as empty, cold and meaningless as, well, working some bitch. Networking? I’ve got a steep learning curve on that one. Remember, I worked as a copy editor for the last decade.

Don’t even get me started on the frustration of online application processes. Do you know what happens when you spend 45 minutes completing an online application for a specific position and then the free Wi-Fi zone drops your Internet connection?

For the first time in my adult life, I’m not sure what my role is in the world. It isn’t enough for our bottom line for me to be a mother and caretaker of the family and home. It won’t be enough for my children if I’m gone all day and tired and stressed when I get home. I’m not sure I can return to the workaholic career treadmill I ran on for almost two decades.

Does society smile upon the mother who cares for her children at home? What about the mother who decided to put her family first for a while and now seeks work? Is she given the same chance as the mother who put her career first but lost her job for economic reasons?  The workplace seems to frown upon the mother who chooses her family over her career. Society also frowns upon the mother who does not take care of her children.

There are no easy answers to any of this. One day a week I try to figure it out.

This I call frustration.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]