The Little Things

“My mom got fired. Her boss didn’t like her so she got fired,” my 7 year old states matter-of-fact to the Sports Authority sales associate after he asked her if she wants to get the bicycle she is straddling.

I stood there, my face starting to feel flushed and time slowing down…. All I managed was a semi-nervous laugh. Well, it was true. I had nothing to add but of course she did….

I found myself watching her, feeling amused and embarrassed at the same time. I mean really kid, could you use the word fired anymore? Maybe I should be walking around with a large scarlet F on my chest. That would just give her the opportunity to point it out even more while practicing her spelling, “This is the letter F…  Fired! FFFFFired! F! F! F!”

I didn’t feel like censoring her, though. After all, it is what it is.

He was very gracious and we exchanged retail employment woes. I got the feeling he was in an in-between job that was less in-between than he wanted. The little one got impatient so we finished up the chat and he got back to work.

I think what stings the most about that night is that I can’t buy the bike. One of those items I’ve been wanting to get her for some time. It was a perfect little starter mountain bike for my mini-me. The barrage of the “F” word was simply an explanation as to why we couldn’t get the bike right now.

Fast forward a few days and I couldn’t bring myself to explain to her that I didn’t get the job I had interviewed for the previous week. She still has a hard time understanding the process of interviewing and hiring. I spent a good part of a Thursday crying, wondering, self-assessing.  All the while she was in school being her happy little 7 year old self.

I had never been fired before this last job. I’ve never had this hard of a time finding a new job. I’ve never had that many personal requirements to fulfill when searching. I am the primary caretaker of my 7 yr-old which comes with schedule inflexibility, I need to have a wage that allows me to pay rent, car payment, insurance, groceries….. basically support a family of four.

After the interview for the job that wasn’t, I took some time to go through my email account and clean it up. I was taken aback at how many applications, cover letters I have sent out and not heard a single thing. I have never dealt with so much rejection in my life. I  can make a PSA to my middle school self saying…. “This? This isn’t so bad….. your geeky boy crush rejection will be nothing compared to what’s in store for you….. It gets worse!”

This rejection wounds more than being thwarted by a male. With that it can be brushed off and chalked up to, I’m not his type. This hits where it hurts because unlike motherhood and marriage, I don’t question my work abilities. That area has always been the one that I’ve always felt most confident and competent in. I mean who wouldn’t want all of this?

Apparently…….. a lot of people don’t want all of….that.

Being underemployed does wonders for your self-confidence in other ways. An invite to the company Christmas party becomes a depressing exercise in trying to look like you don’t work in the warehouse. In past years, I’d get a manicure, pedicure…buy something new to wear if I didn’t have anything. This year, I worked until an hour and a half before the party. With all the driving that was about half an hour….maybe 45 minutes of get ready time. I pulled together whatever I could find. A too big skirt from five years ago….interview top and haphazardly painted my toenails because of the peep toe shoes. I left for the party feeling….well…less than.

Remember Private Benjamin? This scene has always stuck in my head:

I used to think how silly she was…but now it makes some sense. I want to be normal again.