Laid Off And Off Balance.

by Susannah Murdock


Lately my daughter refuses to fall asleep without her cape. I will put her to bed only to hear maybe ten minutes later a little voice calling out for Super Zoey! Super Zoey! And so I creep into her bedroom in the dark and place the cape around her shoulders like Muhammad Ali's coach after a fight. Then, unlike Ali, she is down for the count, zonked.

The cape in question is a nice satin number similar in style to Flash Gordon if Flash Gordon had been a 2 year old girl and not a homo-erotic blond man with feathered hair. Even so, I have to say I envy Zoey her cape, her ability to ask for it and her belief that somehow that pink satin lightening bolt sweeps her to sleep safely. Because right about now I could use a cape and someone to place it around my shoulders. I could use the belief that I have any power, super or not.

Two weeks ago I was laid off from my job. The same job that I grumbled about to anyone who would listen. The same job that gave me the Sunday Night Blues every weekend, sometimes even as early as Saturday. I was a reluctantly full-time working mother. I did not identify myself with my job. It was a necessity, a way to pay the mortgage until that mythical One Day when I could stay at home, cook my family dinner every night rather than tear open a box of frozen pizza, when I could spend more time with my daughter.

And yet here I am, the mythical One Day not as halcyon as I had imagined. I wake up each morning and get ready as if I have somewhere to go. I take Zoey to daycare since we have already paid for it full-time for the next month. And then I come back to an empty house to sit at the computer for hours, checking out my favorite blogs and celebrity gossip web sites until I am sleepy enough for an afternoon nap. In this new world I wear worn jeans every day, flip flops with a chipped pedicure, my hair scrapped back into a messy-mom ponytail. It’s no wonder I feel a strange mix of useless and responsible, of free and burdened. All along I was so certain that I worked for the paycheck alone and suddenly I am finding that it was more than that. I have 4 months to find another job, 5 if I really stretch it. So here I am at 35 feeling as if I have just graduated from college again, simultaneously petrified and enlivened at all of the opportunities this One Day has handed me.

Next month we are cutting Zoey’s daycare back to 2 days a week. And the thing that I am most ashamed of, other than of course no foreseeable source of income, is that I am afraid of this extra time with my daughter. What will we do all day with nowhere to go? Surely she does not want to cruise the internet with me reading about Heidi and Spencer’s latest publicity ploy. She will not nap when I want her to. And she will not be signing a paycheck made out in my name, a stamp of approval, of validity in a world of “so what do you do?” No, Zoey will want to go outside to play. She will want to sing diddies from Dora the Explorer and practice jumping on the sofa. She will demand that I put on her cape and fly with her, and that frightens me most of all, that I must prescribe to that childhood belief that somehow, someway, somewhere, something will happen and it will all be okay in the end.

My hubby was actually the one who got laid off about 4 years ago. Since that time, he's been a SAHD for our 2 boys - ages 7 and 4. We've talked about it and if we had only had one kiddo at the time, he would have gone back out into the workforce but w/2 kids, it kind of made sense for him to stay home w/the kids. We only pay for PT preschool for our younger son and our older son enjoys the fact his dad picks him up from school/does his homework w/him vs. having to deal w/afterschool care. It's definitely a financial hit but at the same time, it seems to be working ok for us.


I will be downsized at the end of this month from a job I enjoyed doing and can relate to the anxieties, but also have a few other worries that have come along for the ride. I have my 4 month old at home and my 3 yr old at daycare, but am fearful of what will happen when the severance and unemployment checks will be gone, if I can't find another job how we will make it. But I'm also grateful I'm even getting that much to begin with!! My hubby works but I am currently the larger breadwinner of the two of us. I could be a full-time SAHM if it came to that, but I also enjoy having a roof over my head, food and clothing for my family, and being able to cover our monthly bills. So I will be networking and pounding the pavement once my current work ends. With the occasional slacking off/surfing the web while the baby naps just to keep me sane.


Great writing! I know exactly how you feel!


It is scary but know that from it can come infinite possibilities. I made the choice a year and a half ago to work from home as a writer and while I don't rake in the big bucks anymore I still sometimes live in that same fear- what the heck am I supposed to do all day with a 2 yr. old. It's a juggle and one I think I learn from each day.

Some days are good, others great, sometimes I feel like Joan Crawford about to hack a rosebush in half.