It’s been 3 weeks since John came home with no job. We’ve spent 3 weeks ringing every number and knocking on every door. We’ve bypassed the step containing shame and humiliation in favor of getting there before anyone else does. Our top priority, our daily agenda, our meaning of life is to make contact with people who have a job.

Tomorrow is our son’s 10th birthday. Read this post as permission to be a terrible parent while you go after those contacts. It is not Charlie’s fault that his birthday happens now, but oh how easy it is to wish he’d been born in June like the other two! Here’s how we’ve managed to pull off a birthday from the vacuum’s abyss.

Pre-layoff, we’d planned a night in New York City, climbing the wall at Chelsea Piers, renting a limo to take us to dinner at Jekyll & Hyde, 6 kids and the 5 of us. Post-layoff? Not going to happen. John absorbed the disappointment as totally personal (this will be a running theme) - we ran a close risk of allowing Charlie to blame it all on himself. As with many moments needing clarity since this all went down, I took John out for a hike in the woods near our house and I jumped in and brainstormed a bunch of cheaper alternatives. these included the ones Charlie wouldn’t go for - bowling, movies, ice skating…

What flew? We borrowed an air hockey table and are hosting the Charlie Hockey Tournament, complete with prizes (glow-in-the-dark footballs), pizza and SODA! We’ve got “Miracle” and “Mystery Alaska” to watch on TV. NHL ‘09 on the Playstation 3. The key selling point? Mom and the sisters have to clear out for the night. Works for me!

Here’s the thing - under any other circumstance we wouldn’t have hesitated to say “No Stretch Limo - you’re TEN!” But now, when John + I are dealing with our own sense of loss and lack of resource, saying NO feels like another nail in the coffin.

Friends, we cannot forget who we are in this process. Nor can we blame others for where we find ourselves. Especially not the kids, the ones in the passenger seat. My theory for tonight is this: in a pinch, serve ‘em soda!

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