I have two jobs. One is the kind of job that when you call it a job you use air quotes around the word. Yeah, that's my "job", get it? The other one is actually a job, that people understand. I go there in a car, I punch in, I get paid...that whole deal.
The "job" is eBay. I started doing it about 8 or 9 years ago, back when you'd read news stories about this website called eBay where women were selling Gymboree blankets for hundreds of dollars. Back when I used to really care, I spent way too much money on clothes for the kids. Like fightin' money. "God, how many clothes do they need?" Big Ray of Sunshine Daddy would say when the Amex bill arrived. This, coming from a man who bought big ugly mandals (sandals that I swear to GOD looked exactly like giant Stride Rite shoes) that cost a couple hundred bucks. What can I say? I never met a Gap Kids clearance rack I didn't like.
Don't get me started on Hanna Andersson. I get weepy thinking about the days when I would go to the Hanna outlet (long gone) and swoop around the store like a huge bird in a field full of worms. Molly was head to toe Hanna for quite some time. I think she put her foot down (a foot clad in striped tights and lime green clogs, sigh) in about 5th grade. That's when the travesty known as Limited Too came stomping into our lives and I spent the next couple of years trying really hard to find clothes for her that didn't look like they came from Hookers 'R Us.
Anyhoo. So one day, Henry's preschool teacher stopped me on the way out of class. "Your kids have the cutest clothes" she said, "when they outgrow them you could make a ton of money on eBay." That lit the fire within. The rest, as they say, is history.
For a long time eBay was like my hobby. When my kid's clothes no longer were cute enough or clean enough to sell, I started selling women's clothing. I'd go to thrift stores, garage sales, consignment shops and find things for pennies, bring them home, snap some photos and *poof* those pennies turned into green fluttering dollars. That was back in the days when really, all it took was a digital camera and a measuring tape to make some excellent walkin' around money on eBay.
When Big Daddy left for skankier pastures, it became my "job". Before the movie star alimony/child support kicked in I made ends meet with my eBay money. I devoted many hours a week to the procuring of and listing as many items as humanly possible. I branched out and began selling pretty much anything that wasn't nailed down. A portable dishwasher (a woman drove up from Iowa for that one). Breast pumps (seriously. You can buy them for a few bucks at thrift stores and sell them for $$$$. Just don't think about the whole bodily fluid thing.). Shit that Big Daddy left behind (yeah, I went there). Things were humming along nicely. I even paid taxes on my profits, like a real businesswoman.
After Big Daddy experienced the Extreme Deadbeat Makeover, eBay fed my kids. I will always be grateful for the faceless strangers who bought things from me during that time. They did more to support my little family than the one who left us did...sad, really. But true. If it wasn't for the little bit of income that my "job" brought in, things would have been even worse than they were, which is terrifying to think about.
Then eBay kind of went to hell. Some yahoo took over at the helm and now it's kind of dicey for sellers. I still do it, but nowhere near to the extent that I used to. For me, going to the thrift stores used to be like a compulsive gambler going to a casino. I'd spend hours in there and then stumble out, parched with thirst and wondering when the sun had gone down. I'd come home and revel in the glory that was my thrift store bounty. I'm not feeling it anymore.
The thrill is gone.
And then I became a playground lady. This is the job that I wish was full time. I had no idea it was a paid position until the time our school secretary approached me about doing it. It was love at first day. I zipped on my giant reflective safety vest, clipped my walkie talkie on and stepped out onto that social petri dish we call THE PLAYGROUND. I soon discovered that I am somewhat of a child whisperer...I have groupies who bum rush me the second their classes are released. I give piggy back rides, build snow-cats and snow-babies and snow-men, push swings til my shoulders ache...it's awesome. Best of all? I can stalk my kids.
Working at school means I know every single kid that my angels interact with every single day. I know every teacher, I know every custodian, I know most of the lunch ladies. If one of the kids comes home with a gripe or a good story, I have faces to place with the names. It's a priceless thing, being able to watch your children as they go about their day. Most parents don't get to see what I do. It's eye-opening, and it's wonderful. I think if more people worked around kids, the world would be a happier place.
Dream job? Yes. But unfortunately it's very part-time. I'm barely bringing home cocktail weenies with that money, never mind the bacon. A full time position for a special-ed paraprofessional opened up at the junior high earlier this fall, I applied for it and got a couple of follow up calls, had an interview scheduled and wouldn't you know...they hired the first chick they interviewed. That would have been fun, a whole new school, a new opportunity to check in on Henry and Molly (they were so super thrilled about mommy maybe working at their school. Yep.). But it wasn't meant to be. I'm able to sub for other paras now, and hopefully one of these days something more substantial will open up.
Until then, I dabble in my "job", do my real job, and wait for the checks that Big Daddy throws my way. I'm fully aware of the fact that I need to find something bigger, better paying, more permanent. I know that what I'm doing now isn't going to cut it much longer. But I even start to think about having a 40-hour work week and the panic kicks in. Who's going to be there for the kids when they get home? What about early release/late start/holidays? What about that 3 month stretch of free time affectionately called summer? School's only been in session for a month now and I've already had kids home sick. Just now, in the middle of typing this, I got a call from the junior high telling me that one of my babies has a fever.
And aside from the kids, what about EVERYTHING ELSE? I can hardly keep up now. Laundry, cleaning, cooking, shuttling people around, scheduling appointments, sports every other night, church, etc. How do women do it? More specifically, how do single women with four kids do it? Do they?? I'm digging my heels in this little nook of time for now. There's an ancient poem that I used to think was dumb and cliched but now I think it perfectly sums up how I feel about being a parent and savoring the morsels we get while our kids are young. Here's a little snippet of it:
The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
for children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.
The only thing I'd change would be:
So quiet down, creditors. Bills go to sleep.