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.
Susannah Murdock is a 35 year old mother of one. Recently she was laid off from her job in product development, forcing her to switch from being a full-time working mother to a mom who needs to figure out what she wants to do with her life and how she is going to pay the mortgage. Together with her 2 year old daughter Zoey, she plans on growing up and balancing it all.