Sunday, February 13, 2011

Soft Boy

I've had a really bad week.  I lost my job. I can't sleep and I can't eat. I'm trying to figure out which direction to go. This should be a fresh start for me. A break from the old, and endless possibilities for the future. But I forget that I'm getting old, at least according to the job market. Especially a market that is coming off of  a recovering recession and is looking to cut costs wherever they can. So they aren't going to pay for my experience and knowledge. They would rather hire young, at minimal pay, and train. I'm trying very hard to be optimistic. Can I generate enough freelance business that I could just find a part time job in something that I love or would be beneficial to me...say Hobby Lobby or Home Depot?

How do you approach this subject with your children? You don't want them to have to worry about the grown up issues, but you also need an explanation as to why certain privileges and extravagances are cut off. As an adult, you think that you do really well at hiding some of these turmoils. Or at least I did. But kids are way more perceptive than we think. They overhear whispered conversations, and I think they know when something is just "off" with their parents. They really aren't given as much credit as they deserve.

The day after my job loss, I did what a lot of people do and posted something on facebook. My mother texted me and said something to the effect that I shouldn't publish that in case future employers would look me up. I was already in bed when this text came through and kind of snapped back at her. But she was right, I should take the high road. But after I got up and deleted my post, I went back to bed, and realized that she was right, I couldn't even vent publicly. I went back to bed with my 4 year old son who was in bed with us, and asleep, or so I thought, but thinking of my mom's words made me silently cry. Out of the darkness came two pudgy hands on each cheek, "Mommy? You cold? My keep you warm." I'm glad that's what he thought it was. I tried not to cry harder.

Conversations with my sons have become more and more adult. I'm starting to realize that I don't have all the answers. I spent almost an entire Saturday feeling sorry for myself, laying on my bed and watching mind-numbing television. I told my kids that I didn't feel well when I honestly was wallowing in self-pity. Sunday came, and I decided to get rid of my aggression, physically, by pounding an ice chipper into the ground over and over and over. My palms are bruised and my shoulders ache, but I feel a little better.

Then I realized that tomorrow is Valentine's Day and my son needs Valentine's to take to school. With this sudden tightening of the belt, I went to the dollar store and got Valentine's with attachable suckers for $2. I also got both sons and husband a cardboard heart with three measly chocolates in them for a dollar each. I had a $10 bill and needed to keep the total less than that. Hubby was appreciative, but when I told Little Man he couldn't have a sucker (there was just enough for Big K's class), I was told that I wasn't loved any more...ever! He promptly went crying to his room and fell asleep.

Later, I was tucking Big K into bed, and that seems to be when he has all the questions. It gives me glimpse into what is really bothering him, no matter how ridiculous it may seem to me. He first asked, "Mommy, what if a gang surrounds me, and I don't know what to do?" (Wha?) First of all, yes, we do have gangs in ND. Not even close to what they have say, in California, but they exist. My response was, "Honey, that's not going to happen to you."

"But mom, what if they do?"

My best off-the-cuff response, "If something like that happened, you'll be old enough to have a cellphone and you can call 9-1-1." (Really? That's the best I could come up with?) "Besides, Dad will teach you how to be a tough guy, something mommy can't do."

"But mommy? Sometimes I don't want to be a tough guy, sometimes I just want to be a soft boy."

(Suppressing smile.) "Well, I understand that. But me and daddy are here if you ever have any problems, people can be mean, and I hope you come talk to us about it."

And then, the inevitable, "Mommy? Why don't you work at your job any more?"

Big breath. Silent introspection. Censoring. "You know how sometimes you feel like people are mean to you on the bus for no reason?"


"Well in the grown up world, people can be mean to you for no reason, and sometimes that means they won't let you work at your job any more. But that just means that I will go and find a better job that will make me a happier person, because I can't let mean people make me feel sad. Does that make sense?" (Lord, I'm blowing this...)

"Mommy, people were mean to you? I should get a whole pack of mean dogs and make them go bite them." (My thoughts exactly!!)

"I know. Sometimes people will make you think that way but...(and maybe here's where I'm going over his head...) we have to be better people than that. We may think bad thoughts, but we are good people and good people don't do that to other people, no matter what. We just take the lessons we've learned and find something better."

"Oh. Well don't people like that..who are mean to people for no reason...go to hell?"

"Yes honey, yes they do."

Okay, I'm not perfect. Sue me. It will be too soon before he realizes that life isn't fair. But bless their innocence while it lasts.


  1. I'm sorry you lost your job - it is amazing the things we discuss with our kids that our parents didn't discuss with us. You did a fine job.

  2. I am really sorry about your job! From the way you sound, I do not think you will have to worry long. When my hubby didn't work for a year because he had just gotten diagnosed with MS and had a long first bout - we just were honest with the kids without scaring them. More matter of fact. However, they have caught me crying on several occassions and I think it makes you human and more real to them so it's ok! In the end they will feel comfortable talking to you about their tough times because they know you can relate and are NOT superwoman. Keep your chin up, I have a feeling this may be a way to give you the ability to do exactly what you want.

  3. Thank you both. It's comments like yours that give me hope and let me see the light at the end of the tunnel.

  4. I'm sorry you lost your job. I've been there, and I know it's hard. Sometimes, in the end, it turns out to be the best thing ever. I remember how hard it was to keep it together for my son though. He asked the exact same question. Sending positive thoughts your way.