I went back to work at forty-seven. I returned to the work force kicking and screaming. I had the life for which princesses are trained. Without the fabulous hats. Certainly I was not raised that way. I did an exhaustive search for my prince and married him. As a young married woman no one was more obsessed with career. I was a reporter, a sports writer–one of the only females at the time, thank you very much, and one of the first to enter a locker room. Meh–there were better sights at home. Not better muscles perhaps, but better sights.
I was relegated to a desk when I was knocked over on the football sidelines, pregnant with oldest chicken. The Norwegian flew out of the stands. Word made it back to my editor and Monday morning I was benched, destined to a life of city councils and women baking pies. It was the eighties. Pregnancy was a liability in the workplace. Basically they didn’t know what else to do with us. Our daughters, praise whatever, will never know what it’s like to hide a pregnancy because it could signal the end of a career. When my editor discovered my delicate state, he took me to a private conference room and asked what my intentions were with “this?” At the mention of “this” he made circles on his tummy. The sideline hit that benched my career was delivered by a linebacker who is probably damaged to this day.
I wrote from home after the birth of both my first and second child, an arrangement unheard of prior to internet and cell phones. I hand delivered typewritten stories every week created with a cat underfoot, a three-year-old racing a Gordon Setter around the house and a baby in a swing pumped by foot while I typed–on a typewriter, yes my friend, a typewriter.
I did master the computer but still have a cell phone that folds open (by choice, you snarky bitch). I have an iPad. I Pinterest and Facebook and all that bullshit. But, of all the accomplishments on which I look back, it is motherhood that taught me to man up and kick ass. Amusement is mine whenever I hear someone say, “She stays at home with her kids.” Or, “She stopped working when her kids were born.” The disdain dribbles from your tone dear. Do you really wanna mess with a bitch who, with MBA in hand, decides the little people that fell from her vagina are more important than corporate mergers. What does she know?
She knows that at home moms get politicians elected. She knows that at home moms get ineffective teachers fired. She knows that the hospital gets a new wing only through her fundraising efforts. She knows your at home secrets because she’s driving your child to day care. She reads to your child because she’s in the classroom. In a nutshell, she is the village. The hand that rocks the cradle. True that girlfriend.
So, why the hell when we go back into the workforce do we have no skills. WTF? No skills. I can negotiate a fight between three six-year-olds, bake chocolate chip cookies from scratch without a recipe, do five loads of wash, wipe away tears, walk the dog and plant a vegetable garden in one afternoon while I’m watching your kids because your work day is just so damn exhausting. I have no skills. F that. Am I bitter? Depends on the day.
The Norwegian owned a financial firm. Life was good, amazing. Raising my kids. Taking care of yours. Playing tennis. Entertaining. Decorating. Getting my nails done. Taking your kid home when your meeting runs late. Making dinner. Teaching your daughter to knit. Girl Scout mom. Cub Scout leader. PR for my husband’s business. Biggest financial meltdown since the Great Depression spells get off your ass and go back to work. So many interviews–what exactly are my skills. I’m thinking, screw you Junior. Who’s your mother? I’m gonna call her and tell her about your manners.
Finally, get a job. Editing a magazine. Matches my previous skill set; when I was twenty. Since obviously all I’ve mastered in the past twenty years is bon-bon snacking. Pays like a beginning editor. And, at 47, my life becomes Devil Wears Prada. Only she doesn’t wear Prada ‘cuz she lives in Scottsdale and her ass is too big. I find that computer skills require more than entering a story in Word and hitting send. I find that young women, now my contemporaries, are not averse to their boyfriends spanking them–whaaa? I realize that I am spoiled, old, pampered and treated like a naughty child with every error. Why can’t I do anything? I am the two-year-old with no explanation for my actions and I feel a twinge for lecturing my own, “What do you mean you don’t know?”
I last at this job a total of nine months before quitting; determined never again to work for the criminally insane. I left a ranting, wild woman of a publisher with a vile mouth saying things like, “From eight to five I own you.” “Are you in the bathroom again?” “I think I overpay everyone in here.” My favorite was the day she told me that she was supposed to have my life. She, twice divorced, believed it to be some stroke of luck that I was married after twenty-five years.
Still working. Still missing the good life I didn’t have the good sense to appreciate at the time. Most days still happy that I sacrificed career to raise my kids because they’re pretty awesome. Not that yours aren’t–unscrunch your panties. But every once in a while, when the alarm goes off I think, this was supposed to be my retirement from the motherhood workforce. This was when I was supposed to hit snooze and make the decision to get up in an hour. Then I think about making a life with handbags and pearls and travel and jewelry and I bound out of bed and think, “Thank God it’s only eight hours ’til I can have a martini.”