I was home by 1:00 p.m. and the kids ran to me as I entered the house. More hugs. More kisses on the cheek. This time, with the sheer joy of having Mom home early from work. Then I dropped the ball. Beanie looked at me with tears growing in her eyes and said, "Mom, what now?". What now. Hm.
I clapped my hands and said, "Let's go". We got into the car and drove to Aldi, where we stocked up on all the things kids (and recently unemployed Moms) need to weather the storm...brownie mix, M&Ms, marachino cherries, chocolate syrup, mini marshmallows and peanut butter. We were going to turn this crappy day into something fun. Turn lemons into lemonade.
We got home and I told the kids we were going to make special "chase away the blues" brownies. They mixed the batter themselves and added their own personal touches. Beanie's looked like a work of art...flowers constructed of M&Ms with marshmallow leaves and marachino cherries for the centers. Budgie's looked like Wonka's factory exploded in the pan.
The brownies came out perfect and absolutely delicious. We ate them while they were still gooey and warm, with icy glasses of lemonade to chase them down. We made the best of a day that was heartbreaking for me, and scary for them. The kids were so very happy at the thought of having Mom home with them, that I caught a bit of their enthusiasm. I was happy to be with them. Even if it's just for a little while, until I find another job, I'm Mom. And that feels good.
Three months later, I'm in the middle of looking for a new job, going on interviews, and looking eyes wide open at the future. I realize that this will be a tough road ahead of me, but I have some wonderful friends who have been a tremendous help to me through networking and giving me heads-up on open positions in the area. I've met a wonderful group of new friends who have helped to guide me through the heartbreak and the anger I've felt over losing my job, and have provided me with the support and love that only truly caring people can give.
I got to spend a large part of the summer with my kids, swimming, camping, laughing and, most of all, being together. I painted my kitchen, I cleaned (and I mean CLEANED) my house, I cooked real dinners, I picked up a book and read it cover-to-cover. I felt the anger, the sadness, the hurt melt away only to be replaced by optimism, by happiness, and by love. I have the opportunity to do something completely new, for people who truly appreciate what I can do. And I'm going to embrace it fully.
I miss my Cal friends immensely. Tim, Scott, Joy, Norm, The Gregs, Walt, Tom, Gena, Doris, Mr. Kline, Christine, John, and everyone else. You are amazing, wonderful, EXTREMELY talented people who deserve nothing but the best. I love you all. And miss you terribly. But I know that I will keep in touch and we will see each other again soon.
So here I sit, drinking a glass of icy-cold lemonade and I smile. Yes, I may have lost my job. But I found something more important. I found my courage. I found my drive again. I found me.