June Gloom 2010
It’s 9PM. I am sipping wine, in my newly and finally cleaned and organized backyard, trying to shake off weariness, depression, sadness.
It is June 2010. The Gulf of Mexico has been ecologically raped. The oil is gushing. The American people have been screwed again. Big time. Natalie Holloway’s suspected killer is finally behind bars and a second grader in Oregon has gone missing from INSIDE of his school. My lovely seventeen year old daughter has just returned from a full school day called EVERY FIFTEEN MINUTES where the school stages a car crash caused by drunken drivers and enacts all that goes along with the events. Students play themselves in the real situation, replete with blood and screams. The whole community participates. I am talkin’ fire and police departments – Jaws of Life – it’s intense. Tomorrow they will stage a memorial using the real parents of the real kids who have “died” and bring in real parents of real kids who HAVE died from drunken driving. It is SO effective and she is SO affected and so grateful for her life, her choices – me. I knew she’d be freaked out so I made her guacamole (her favorite) and let her watch TV. I picked her up with her thirteen-year-old sister who got to see the crumpled crashed car prominently displayed on the school’s front lawn. I was dropping off my thirteen year old at temple for her last religious school class of the year. I even baked cupcakes for the year-end party. There was a holocaust film being shown and the parents were invited but I couldn’t face it.
The thirteen year old’s best friend came to our house after school until the party. I drive them there on Tuesdays and her parents’ bring them home – a good carpool. The friend had no homework and was playing computer games on her phone, inadvertently distracting my child who HAD homework AND chores (which she never wanted to do). When I had to bring this focus issue to my child’s attention, my child became a bit rude and disrespectful towards me, so I brought the friend home suddenly (she lives around the corner). She said no one was home but she was fine for the ninety minutes until I picked her up for the class party so I did some food shopping and when I returned home there was an email from the mom saying her daughter was locked out and I left before she got in and she would never leave MY daughter before seeing her in. I am so embarrassed. (Her dad came home and let her in) I’d never done that before. I never took off before seeing the child get in the house. Never. I am losing it. I have turned into one of those single, totally overwhelmed harried moms I used to feel sorry for when I was married and my only jobs, which I struggled with but excelled at, were raising my girls and running the house. And I still felt overwhelmed, But. I didn’t have to provide, and do everything like I do now.
I think about how overwhelmed can feel different as I sip my wine while the oil gushes into the Gulf and the search party continues for the lost Oregon boy.
I thought again of the mom who chastised me – and rightly so – for leaving her child before she got in. There are two of you, I always think, and only one of her. She – the mom who chastised me, is seemingly happily married and they appear to have the kind of partnership necessary for successful parenting and family life. The kind of partnership I always assumed I would have.
There is one of her and two of you. There are two of them and one of me.
It has been six years since my husband announced he was leaving and I discovered his secret life, gambling addiction and financial rape of our family.
Five years since the divorce was final.
Four years since he got fired.
Two years since he OD’d and tried to kill himself.
A year and a half since he moved to another country.
Seven months since my mother died.
And the oil keeps gushing.
He – who has more issues than the Mid East – is far away and although he tortures me regularly with emails and demands and refuses to acknowledge his responsibilities, it is still better that he is away.
I should be happy. My girls are thriving, healthy, kind, smart, beautiful, talented, traumatized yes by what happened but I have managed to kept them in our house and in their school and I do take pretty good care of them.
Someday they will get it.
I am fifty-three years old and have stopped trying to get a job after four years of trying in this terrible economy. Yes, I have stopped trying to get a job, despite an insanely out of touch (female) judge ordering me to “go to Macy’s and get a job”. Yeah, sure – that fast track to the cycle of poverty – yeah – that’s the ticket for me! I don’t need a job. I need a career. Between age discrimination, maternal profiling and my previous careers (not in retail Judge if you would look at your papers!) as an actress and years in the now decimated record business first as an administrative assistant – working for Presidents mind you – and then as a promotion and marketing manager with my OWN assistant, turns out I am not hirable, I am not marketable. Sure my three-page resume is very impressive but still. Granted, even I was shocked at how hard it was. After four years of sending out hundreds of resumes – with personalized cover letters – I got approximately THREE interviews; one for a sales/marketing position as part of a cattle call – and TWO with Temp Agencies. Can only imagine how I did on the “skills” tests. Never heard from any of ‘em. I could handle the humiliation if I could get hired. The only jobs I got – and there were several – I got through networking or my own initiative, and were part-time, low paying – no benefits – led nowhere and were SO exploitive! So. I have created my own career. As a Cultural Herstorian. An Herstorical Entertainer. Yes. Let it sink in. It’s good isn’t it? And, when I am not absolutely terrified, I am absolutely thrilled and passionate and so excited and encouraged and mentored and supported – people love it – in this endeavor. I’m doing really well, I tell myself, for now, taking care of my girls, my home, working so diligently and so hard on my career, our security, my future. I intend to be in control of my own financial destiny – never ending up as a drain on society. Divorced mothers and women make up the largest poverty segment in society. Always have. And always will with Judges like I had. I think of Tina Fey and how smart she is and what I heard on the last episode of her hit TV show 30 Rock – a line tossed off by Kenneth, the NBC Page who said, “I feel about as useless as a Mom’s College Degree”. She nailed it. So true, so pathetic. So shameful.
But I am so weary. And enraged. Yes I am weary AND enraged. That’s what a great multi-tasker I am. So weary of the news. Of the BPs and B of A’s and the scandalous amounts of money spent on voter campaigns. So beaten down from mothering and fathering and negotiating and nurturing and worrying and dealing. With details, and dinner, chore charts and consequences, camp forms and college apps, doctor’s appointments and education funds, bat-mitzvahs and driving lessons. It is exhausting, keeping us healthy and insured, and just being available for the constant comfort and reassurance they so desperately and ferociously need. “Can I have a hug”? My lovely seventeen year old daughter, struggling and succeeding through high school – asks me that every day – sometimes every hour and I feel so guilty because sometimes I rush right through it and she feels my impatience to get on with it. It. Survival. Yes surviving in a house where I spend so much time dodging hormones. And of course, I – like most mothers, am on the receiving end of their confusion and rage and resentment and fear. “I hate you Mom! I hate it here! Why can’t I have texting and a Facebook account, and my own email like all my friends” screams my blossoming and brilliant and hurting and typical thirteen year old.
Natalie Holloway’s mother would love to have my problems I tell myself and I immediately feel ashamed of my private whining and want to hug and hold my precious children tight tight tight.
I think of the gals I research and write about from the past few centuries – with their thirteen kids and complete and total lack of rights – they didn’t even legally own their bodies – bodies that were forced into organ crushing and breath-taking (literally) whale bone corsets. I even resent having to wear a bra.
I look around and sip my wine as I sit in my beautiful backyard so weary and enraged but happy to have a few moments to myself – not responding or listening to anyone or anything, ignoring the girl’s who I hear inside shouting at each other, thinking about the garden I want to plant with food so I can live off the land, planning, scheming as I have been for years, how to hold on to the house, and keep them healthy and in their school. Faith. My necklace pendant says it. When I have it, I can imagine and do anything, and everything I plan seems possible. When I don’t – and this night I don’t – oh.
I probably just need a hug.