Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Hi, My Name is Ashley… And I Am… A Working Mom.

A curse of a parent? Your kids never really know how much you love them.

They don't get it. The won't. They can't.

It's okay. It's the order of the Universe:  Fish swim. Birds fly. Your kids don't know how much you love them.

They don't understand the tears you cry. They don't understand your firm manner with them. They don't understand that rules are really for their protection.

And they don't understand the sacrifices.

-Pricey vacations…vacations, at all, really
-Haircuts (mine)
-Pursuing my great love and passion, Theatre
 and...
-Matt and I staying married as long as we did…as long as we could

I recently started working 40 hrs/wk again- first time since Cedar City when I was working 2 part-time jobs.

I love my job. I do. I'm now an Assistant Manager at World Market, a company I loved as a shopper, and now as an employee on the management team.

After a couple of weeks, however, I came home and had a breakdown. The kids actually didn't see this one.

Matt was over at the apartment, and he said, "...Wanna …talk?"

I managed to eek out, with surprising rigor, "Matt, I'm not raising my kids! (sob, sob, sob, blubber, gasp)"

After a perfectly timed pause, ala Matt Neves because he's a theatrics god, he said, "Ash… you're more available to them now than you were when you were a full-time mom."

I let this register.

Then asked, "Because… now… I don't want to kill myself?" (Remember the whole mixed-orientation marriage thing I did that one time...?)

"Yep."

I couldn't help but laugh, because, y'all, for some reason the truth can really be hilarious.

All the time, my oldest will ask, "When do you work today?"

I'll tell her and, 9 times out of 10, I get an "UGH" in response.

Even my oldest child, who is, ya know, a teenager, wants me home. I'm mom. The only one she's got.

I'd rather be with you, honey. I would. You're my child. I love you in a way that consumes me. My whole body, mind, soul...being. It keeps me up at night. It gets me up in the morning. It's what drove me to upheave from Cedar City and 2 jobs to come to California to make my best attempt at making us the most cohesive family we can possibly be in this 'less-than' situation.  

But I HAVE to work. To feed you. To protect you from the elements. Don't you see? First and foremost, I have to keep you alive.  

Ada makes pouty faces. Emma doesn't seem to care. Timothy, in true Timmy fashion, has become more and more affectionate, reaching out for tangible, palpable love, to reassure him.

And the oldest, Hana, her "UGH's" are only part of her reaction to mom being a breadwinner all of the sudden. She's become my friend.

Interesting, isn't it?

My gift in this:

Embracing the moments. Moments are incredible gifts. I try to make them about peace and wisdom and laughter.

Listening.

Patience.

Just being in the same room.

But… it probably wouldn't hurt to go back on Zoloft.




Monday, November 4, 2013

This is a Rant. About Freedom.

So last night one of my teenaged girls said, "I'm gonna move to New York."

Inside, my reply was Hahahahahaha!

Outside, my reply was, "There are only 3 reasons to live in New York-"

Before I give you the 3 reasons, let me express to you how much I would LOVE- would love more than I love the Wynn buffet in Vegas- to live in NYC.  Or even just East.  I prefer East over West as far as the US goes.

Back to the 3 reasons, "#1 If you're a student, #2 if you make a crap ton of money, #3 if you have a very generous friend who agrees to let you stay on their couch for several months because you're trying for your big break as an artist of some sort."


I read somewhere this summer:  'Don't expect anyone to support you.  Maybe you have a trust fund.  Maybe you have a wealthy spouse.  But you never know when either one might run out on you.'

During the summer, I had serious talks with both of my teenage girls about Education/Money/Adulthood/Career Paths.  I like to call these talks "Freedom Talks".  I used all my passion to express to them with great emphasis the necessity of an advanced degree.

Just seems in today's world, a Bachelor's doesn't mean much anymore.  Work experience means infinitely more.  So, the next thing I conveyed to them was the necessity of consistent work experience, and if you aren't able to get a job for whatever reason, volunteer.  And put that shit on your resume.

They listened intently.  I explained to them my struggle with employment and being employable since my split with husband.  Since the days of raising kids and relying on Matt's income.  Period.

"You can't EVER rely on someone else to take care of you.  You MUST always be able to take care of yourself. And the amount of education plus work experience you can accrue equals your freedom."

That means do what it takes to be a professional, and, HELL, if you have a Master's you can always teach.  And, sweet Lord, teaching usually means health insurance!

DO THE MATH.

Back to the idea of living in NYC… I've lived in Southern California, an hour away from L.A., for a year now.  Cost of living isn't as nuts, perhaps, as New York, but it's up there.  I've been living here in SoCal with none of things that I'm pushing for my girls.  And y'all know it's been hard.

I never ever ever want my kids to feel that fear and, sometimes, hopelessness that I felt.  Mouths to feed and where's the next meal?  What account is going to collections next?

(I have somehow made my way into retail management after only 2 years of really being in the work force.  This was a feat.  And it took caring about my job and not just a paycheck.  I'm unspeakably proud of myself and shamelessly sing my praises.  So, don't count me ungrateful.  I'm feeling a new sense of freedom that is brand new to my repertoire of emotion.)


I'm not sure if my "Freedom Talks" sunk in…

A couple days ago, I was talking to another teenaged girl about how next year is the time to make decisions about what schools to apply for.

Her reply, "I don't know if it's really worth it."

"UM, WHAT???!!!!!! What is the IT you are referring to????  School???????????"

"Yeah…"

"What is your plan to be successful??"

"Open a bake shop."

So that was the highlight of that conversation.