June 05, 2009

How I Became June Freaking Cleaver - Part One

On June 27th, I will celebrate my first year as a recycled domestic goddess. Oh, I had done the SAHM thing before; when I got married the first time (I think it was during the Precambrian era), and I had my two daughters, I stayed home for 11 years. But I was young, and foolish, and often didn't feel more than frustration with the constant demands of motherhood (you know what I'm talkin' 'bout). I yearned for time to myself, for a sense of accomplishment in doing a job, and being rewarded for it (the ever loving paycheck).

Thanks to the wonders of marital infidelity (not mine) and divorce, I got my wish.

I became a single mom, struggling to juggle work, kids, bills, and learning for the first time, how to be on my own. It was an adventure. My girls and I became nomads, moving to the next, better job, earning more money, learning about different areas of the country.

After eight years of work and total focus on my kids and my work, I realized that I still had no identity other than "mom" and "employee". It was during the end of my "the only good man is a dead man" phase that the hormones kicked in and I jumped into the dating pool. Boy, was I at the shallow end when I met the second husband. We had The Boy before I even knew that my partner selection skills had not improved at all.

By this time, my girls were well on their way to adulthood. When The Boy was born, the oldest was in college, the younger, a junior in high school. And here I am, starting over with baby...and a job...and a large lump with facial hair and testosterone...who also had a problem with regular, meaningful employment.

Once again, the lawyers hit the mother lode, and I re-entered the race as a single mom. But this time, it was different. The Boy was a whole different species. By the time he was three, he was kicked out of three day cares. He hated changes in routines, hated when a day care worker he was attached to was replaced with someone new.

Anyway, he and I were still nomads. In addition to lousy selection skills in men, I've had an uncanny knack of hiring on at companies that are going to a) downsize, or b)merge, or c) completely go out of business.

We moved to NY in 2006, not because of a job (but I did have a good one), but because I didn't want to be the absent grandma anymore. My daughter and her family lived there, and once I got a whiff of baby shampoo-scented hair at my grandson's first birthday, I was hooked.

Other than the family connection, the move was not one of my finest achievements in life planning. The Boy had terrible trouble in school, and with his bipolar disorder. At work, our department changed managers. I had no idea what fun was in store for me. She was based in California, so I thought we'd continue working as normal...I was wrong. She turned out to be a middle-aged unmarried shrew who obviously never read the employee manual chapter on "work-life balance". It was during a visit to our office that The Boy was in the throes of a mental illness crisis; I had to pick him up from school two out of three days of her visit. This did not bode well for me and continuing employment. It was also during this time that my daughter told me that they were moving to Florida (we had such a nice time when we all visited Disney World, they decided to make the Sunshine State their permanent home).

On a side note, please take disabled to Disney World with you. Pick them up off the street if you have to! With a doctor's letter, you get a magic pass that lets you avoid any lines to the attractions. Score!

Ok, back to the story: Four months before my employer let me experience the joys of unemployment, I met The Mister on an online dating site. He lives in Missouri. When we first started chatting, he was the unemployed one. About a month into the conversations, we met in person. We continued to get to know each other through long phone conversations, and personal meetings when we could. He got a job, I had a job. As the months passed, we discussed a future together. We agreed that whoever had the best job got to decide where we lived. Well, my manager made that decision easy when she laid me off.

To be continued...

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