Untitled Book Project #3

This is another book project I started but never finished. I was laid off while pregnant with my second kid and then took three years off to raise my kids. I looked for a job here and there but mostly concentrated on being with the kids since I missed so much while working when Kid 1 was so little. In that time the disparity I saw between the SAH and out of the house working moms was interesting and this book idea was born in that time and I wanted to capture how people that actually share so much in common, also build these bridges that separate them.

Jane Renly woke up with a start and scrambled to find clothes to get ready for work.  She threw on a sleeveless blouson top after she smelled it to make sure that it was acceptable for the office.  She looked over to where Mark, her husband, would be on the bed but his side of the bed was empty. She thought it was sweet of him to let her sleep a little bit more but she secretly cursed him because now she was going to be really, really late.  She raced around the room collecting stockings, a skirt and blazer and stubbing her toe while she searched for her black kitten heels. After her last child, the thought alone of wearing longer heels, made her hurt all over. She contemplated in her mind if she should shower but then decided against it because the time was really against her.  She was hopping and shoving her sausage feet into her shoes when she suddenly froze. She didn’t have to rush to work because she was no longer employed. She stood rooted to the spot for what seemed like an eternity but was in reality only a few moments and then slid down to the floor and dissolved into a torrent of tears.

Hours later, Jane found herself at the local park with Lily and James.  Lilly was running around like a loon under the cool spray of the park’s fountain as James snoozed in the stroller.  Jane smiled and told herself again that everything would be fine and that she really needed to relax and enjoy this time with her children.  Sara was in school and they had a few hours before they would make there way over to the school for pick up. It was only May but already so unseasonably warm and Jane figured if she got Lily to run around and tire herself out, bedtime would be much more pleasant later.  Of all her children, Lily, at 2 and a half, was still the worst sleeper. Even as a newborn, Lily had fought viciously against sleep. Sara had been an easy baby and James was somewhere in the middle. Jane watched as Lily spun around and around, flailing her arms and laughing like a mad person at something only she knew and thought was funny.  Jane often wondered where Lily got all the energy from and secretly wished she could have a fraction of it. If she did, she knew she could rule the world.  

It was now technically almost a year since she had been let go from her last job but the sting of it and shot to the ego were still as strong and as present as if it had been yesterday.  She was pregnant with James and had given this job her everything but that was still not enough to salvage her career. She’d landed the Associate position at the National Bank of Nova Scotia and she had had many ideas and dreams on where this new venture would take her and her career.  She had not planned on the pregnancy and was originally devastated and thought she would not be able to take the job. However, she’d spoken to the HR woman who’d come back to her and said the team was still interested in having Jane join. So she did but it quickly devolved into the worst decision ever.  From day one, that job had never truly been her own and she was constantly tormented by the thought of having had made the worst career decision of her life but she desperately wanted to be wrong so she gave that job 110% of herself – to the point where she missed going to the doctor for the entirety of her second trimester.  Her boss was a nice enough fellow but in the end, since it was a Canadian bank, the office in Canada called the shots and Jane’s work life became a nightmare that seemed to be playing on a constant loop, thanks to three of her Canadian colleagues. The three women in question – Laura, Sophia and Jazmin (in order of torment) – were excellent in their work but merciless in their treatment of Jane.  In the end, she went with her boss to HR for what she thought would be a discussion on maternity leave coverage but then wound up being given a separation letter. Jane was completely taken off guard. She worked for an additional week, although her doctor had told her for own health and that of her unborn baby, she really needed to stop. Her husband told her she should just walk away since the job had already walked away from her.  She took the layoff really hard, especially since she’d tried so very hard to hold onto the job. In her heart she knew it was for the best and she told herself constantly that everything happens for a reason but still her ego and self esteem and confidence were very badly bruised.  

Jane had James in his high chair and Lily strapped in her booster seat as she contemplated lunch.  There wasn’t much in the way of choices in the refrigerator and she silently cursed her laziness and lack of ambition in acquiring a driving license at an earlier time in her life.  In her defense, being born and raised in Brooklyn meant there were a million and one ways to travel and the need to learn to drive always took a backseat. Now that she was a Jersey Girl, as the family had bought a small house in Jersey City, the fact that she did not possess the ability to drive was a real hindrance to her everyday living.  Jane was still a little unsettled at the thought of being married, with 3 kids and being a homeowner in New Jersey of all places but for as overwhelming as her life was or seemed at times, she would not trade any piece of it. Jane missed having a paycheck but she didn’t miss office politics. She loved adult conversation but didn’t like the gossip and intrigue started in some workplaces and she was fine without the constant drama in her life.  Technically there was still drama but it was more Sara wailing how her life was ruined because Jane had not allowed her on a play date at her friend Mireille’s house. Actually she also missed having the absolute certainty that she had brushed her teeth and put on deodorant in the mornings. Her new life as a stay at home often times moved in such a hectic pace that she didn’t know most days if she’d taken care of her own hygiene but at least the kids were always clean, well fed and happy.  She wasn’t sure she was but she had so much to do she didn’t really think she had the time to dwell on it.

It was Saturday morning and Mark had taken all the kids to i-Hop for breakfast and she was doing errands with her friend, Jessica.  Jessica owned a car and had always offered to take Jane around when she needed. Jane tried not to abuse the privilege but today she needed Jessica’s driving services as she was trying to orchestrate a birthday party for Mark on the sly.  Mark was turning 40 which was a huge deal and she had planned a big surprise for him. A couple of Mark’s oldest friends were coming in from out of state and she needed to make sure the whole weekend of the birthday celebration passed without a hitch. 

“So what’s the plan?”

“Okay – I have to get to Staples and get that family picture put on a canvas and I have to get some party supplies and I need to go to the place and confirm all the food details and pay the deposit….I’m sure there is something else but I’m drawing a complete blank.”  Jane pushed the stray hairs that had fallen into her face behind her ear. She tried to go over a mental checklist but secretly was cursing herself for not writing out an actual checklist she could reference. 

“Can I ask you something?”

“Sure, what’s up?”

“Would you ever cheat on Mark?”

For a minute Jane thought she’d misheard Jess – perhaps she had.  Traffic was noisy and the windows in the car were all down. She studied Jess’s profile.  Jess was staring straight ahead but something in her body language made it obvious that she was there but not really.  

“I mean, God not now obviously, with his birthday around the corner and I know you love him madly……forget I asked.”  Jess seemed extremely embarrassed to have even brought it up and she focused on the road ahead of her. 

“No, no, its okay.  I mean I love Mark but I think it’s normal to want something else every once in a while.”  Jane wasn’t sure if this is what Jess needed to hear and she hoped she wasn’t botching up this little talk but she also wasn’t sure how to maneuver this discussion.

“It’s just that, well things haven’t been so good between Jason and I and….I kind of reconnected with an old friend on Facebook.  I’ve been talking to him and I mean, like nothing has happened or anything but I don’t know – he makes me feel nice and special and…”  Jess stopped talking and they drove in silence for a short while but it only seemed like an eternity.  

Jane was home but she couldn’t shake the experience in Jessica’s car from her mind.  When they got to the store, Jane was focused on getting all the things she needed and she figured Jessica was relieved to not have to converse more about what had transpired in the car.  It was almost as if it hadn’t happened. Jane did not bring it up again and now at home, Jane had the time and solitude to dwell on Jessica’s dilemma.

Had she herself ever felt something for someone else?  Yes she had, but she knew in her soul that she would never act on the impulse.  To do so would mean she did not respect herself, her marriage vows or her husband and father of her children.  All the things she could potentially lose over an indiscretion were not worth being unfaithful in the first place.  She did not want to judge Jessica because she didn’t know what it was like to walk in Jessica’s shoes and as a friend, she wanted to be supportive.  She would get snippets of Jessica’s marriage from the times she hung out with Jessica but she didn’t think she had the whole picture. As a friend, all she could do was be there with an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on and arms for hugging.  In her heart, Jane hoped Jessica would not stray from her marriage, not so much for the marriage’s sake but more for the sake of the couple’s small children. Maybe it was wrong to think that but Jane was a traditionalist she supposed in this regard.  She believed children needed two parents. Her own upbringing had been very sunny and happy with two loving and doting parents. There were times when she absolutely knew her parents did not like each other very much but they always worked everything out and stayed together.  It was her only point of reference but after forty something years of marriage, her parents had stood the test of time and she was grateful to them and for them all the time. They were the example she had always hoped to emulate when she went off in search of the person she herself would one day marry. 

She’d met Mark through an old co-worker and at first had put no stock in them either hooking up or even being in a relationship but stranger things have happened.  Jane and Mark sort of fell into a relationship, born from being in the same social circles and finding themselves at the same social occasions. Their relationship began as a friendship as she was in the midst of some sort of relationship with someone else.  Mark had been single and had somehow gotten over his inherent shyness to be a friend to her. Later on he confessed that he had had a thing for her from the very beginning but having been burned many times before, decided to proceed with caution with Jane. Mark was unlike anyone she had ever met or been with.  He was very honest, with no drama or baggage, reliable, trustworthy. Not to say the other men she’d dated lacked those attributes, but with Mark everything was more simple. He worked as a web developer – mostly from the need to avoid too much social interaction. He’d been with the same firm for the past fourteen years and made very good money.  He was good about saving his money and had amassed a nice fortune in various portfolios and savings accounts. He too came from a close knit family that mirrored her own – two parents, one older sibling, growing up in a middle class world with middle class values of education of going beyond that where their parents had been.Their friendship turned slowly into that something more and it wasn’t without hardships and struggles.  In the years before they married, she lost her father to illness and had gone through three major job changes.  He went from a life of routine to sharing apartment space with a woman, who was awful at keeping things tidy, who loved to entertain and lived by the seat of her pants.  It often times felt like a volatile science project but Mark was very smitten with the woman who would soon be his wife.They found out they were pregnant and argued about that – Mark wanted to marry her immediately and she wanted to just live together.  Mark enlisted Jane’s mother to convince her that maybe having a husband and insurance to cover the birth were more important than her ideas that she would lose her identity because she had decided to marry. After speaking with some friends and really finding out about the high cost (financially, physically and mentally) of having babies, she finally agreed to marry Mark. 

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