Over the years, I ‘ve worked in a variety of fields.
While my teens were small tots, I owned and operated a landscape design company in Richmond so that I could make my own schedule. I did several large commercial jobs, but focused primarily on creating backyard retreats for residential clients, and this really was my forte. Designing their own private piece of Eden, as envisioned through extensive conversations about their lives and needs. Being my own boss meant doing the work myself too in order to maximize profit – meaning although I was the designer, I was also the primary installer for most projects. I called my labourers only when the scope of the job was beyond what I could manage alone. It was hard work, but I loved it.
When the kids grew older and were in school fulltime, I took the leap into another career – financial investigations. I loved it immediately, and quickly developed a reputation for finding the unfindable. Computer servers hidden in an office tower. A luxury home in Ontario. Lucrative bank accounts, Nascar race cars and hidden contracts to snag – you name it, I could locate it. I think you require a sixth sense for this kind of thing , a feeling that just pops up when you know you are onto something. The company I worked for was family friendly and it allowed me to be able to have a satisfying career and never miss a Christmas concert. But although I loved the work, it was also stressful at times, with hundreds of thousands of someone else’s money on the line. Not to mention producing evidence and documentation that would stand up in a Supreme Court action. Our clients paid us well,and expected nothing less than a %100 success rate, but with this came a sense of wanting more. Wanting to make a real difference.
Thus the leap into the field of non-profit, working with the homeless, the addicted, the lost and the forgotten. I loved it, and would probably be there still if the agency hadn’t closed down from a lack of funding. This was before Vancouver was awarded the Olympics and Gordon Campbell realised he had to get rid of all the homeless people, and housing wasn’t a priority for his government then, but I digress.
It’s a wonderful feeling to help someone get up in life, to see them succeed. Of course, as anyone working in the industry knows, working with certain segments of the population is not without its risks. We were one of the only agencies who would help house ex-cons and discharges from the forensic facility. Meaning some hard-ass criminals and some wacked out ones too. We had one fellow who arrived on our doorstep with his worker who claimed that he was “cured” and had conquered his anger management issues. I took one look at this guy and could clearly see he would jump across the desk and strangle me in an instant, given the chance. But oh no, his worker said everything was fine, he just needed a place to live on his own.
Sometimes we would refuse housing to someone based on the perception of risk to others in the building. I couldn’t live with myself if something happened that maybe I could have stopped. And this dumb-ass worker just wanted to get rid of this guy with no regard for public safety so clearly we had to make him see this guy was not ready for release.
My boss started asking the fellow questions. What would you do if someone took your shoes? What if someone called you a prick? What if you ran out of food? You get the idea. The potential discharge started getting hot under his collar and turned redder with every question. Beads of sweat ran down his forehead like snot on a cows nose. I could see his chest heaving and his blood pressure rising.
” What’s the matter? Getting a little hot ,are we? “ she asked, cocking her head at him.
He jumped right out of his chair and lunged for us across the desk. She looked at the worker who was sheepishly gathering his case and papers and pointed to the door. ” Don’t bring me anyone who can’t even deal with a few questions, you turkey! You can’t let this guy out! “
There were quite a few incidents within those rooms, and all I can say is that it takes a lot of balls for someone to take after me and an old lady( my boss), both of which were really pissed off at the government. In the end, we always came out on top, and ok. But I did worry that something would happen to me to leave my kids motherless.
When the agency closed down, I took to writing fulltime. No background in it career-wise, other than a passion to paint pictures with words that others can understand and maybe even like. So here I am.
Even with all of this behind me, the days now where the work isn’t coming in as fast because everyone is cutting back,and I’m struggling through to the next busy time, there is still one job that surpasses it all for complexity and challenges.
It’s freaking hard work, being a mom. Wait, let me correct that- it’s hard work being a good mom, which my kids tell me I am. Although there are some days I’m not so sure. I have my moments, I assure you. No one’s perfect.
This morning I was reading the parents resource page on my daughters university website, and I started to cry because it really hit me that in 4 months, she’s going to be gone. Gone.
Not straggling to the bathroom every morning to get ready for school, not complaining that we never have anything good( IE: Junky) to eat in the house, not there to chase after her little brother and give him a noogy. No, there will shortly come a morning where she wakes up, in her new room, in her new dorm residence, and looks at the walls and begins her life – on her own.
I realised the other day that I haven’t really talked about this with her little brother, who is 4. So, I asked him if he knew that she was going to graduate highschool, which he did. ” Her fancy dress time, right Mommy?”
” Yes sweetie, her fancy dress time. But do you know what happens after her fancy dress time? “
He did not. I sat him down beside me and told him about university and that his sister was going to move away to go to grown up school, so she could learn what she needed to know to become a spy. ( she plans to apply to CSIS …)
” You mean she won’t be here anymore? In her bedroom?”
” No sweeties, she will live at her school, but she will come home to visit you a lot, and come home to live on holidays and summer. And you can talk on the phone and email!”
” NO! No no no no. She has to live here forever I said!”
Clearly, this is going to take some time to get used to for him. And for me. It’s not easy to let go, even a little, although I know it’s going to be OK.
It’s hard to be mom. What other love is there ,where you begin to love someone before you even know who or what they are; to feel the life within you swell and poke and turn, and know that you are shortly going to be responsible for helping another human being become a fully functional adult? My God, what kind of a job is this? No limit on hours, no overtime pay, and Lord help you if you screw it up somewhere along the line- it can have lifelong ramifications! It’s daunting to say the least, but still ? I wouldn’t give it up for anything.
And so here I am on a sunny Sunday morning. My teenage son is at his fathers. My baby who is two months short of one and has 6 chompers that he uses like a beaver of the chair legs is napping. My four year old is chattering about frogs and I just peeked into my( soon to be on her own )daughters room where she is still sleeping in her bed.
Her hair is mussed, and her mouth is open as she breathes softly in slumber, and in this moment she seems so young and vulnerable. My baby. My firstborn. The one who changed my world irrevocably the moment she slipped from my body as one, then suddenly – we were two.
We have been together ever since, and I love her as I do all my children- with a deep, intense fervor that never ceases to amaze me with it’s limitless dimensions.
Now I have to get ready to let her go – a little bit. I don’t know who it will be harder on, although I’m guessing it’s me. The first day I come down the hall into that empty bedroom is going to kill me, I know already. How do parents do this?
Sometimes, being a mom is the hardest job of all.