The economy is bad. How bad has come home to me. My son, a very successful man by the time he was in his 30's, came home. It was not a joyful homecoming. A set of domino effects left his success in shambles, his fiancee gone when his fortunes fell and no prospects for employment. Can you imagine?
I had many ups and downs along the way, but I was always able to find some sort of income because I could type. I could always go to a temp agency, take a typing test, and walk into a strange office and sit down to a familiar typewriter. He can type; but he'd "put his stuff in a backpack and live in the swamp first." He means it. He is my child and a good person; he deserves better than the swamp.
Temp agencies are not hiring me anymore; I'm no longer a young chick with skirts above my knees and a youthful face. While attractiveness as a mature woman has not left me entirely; I am not 25 - and plenty of 25-year old young women and men are lining up for any job, including the ones for which I have academic and experience credentials. Experience does not count in a down economy - cheap labor does.
So here we are, my son and me, strangers in a strange land. He was busy making his way in the world and dropped in to see me for about 24 hours maybe once or twice a year on his way somewhere else for twenty years. We were not close. His dad was more his partner along the way; though when hard times hit, his dad blew him off because he was busy with his own issues.
When all else fails, mother has a roof and a table. I learned that from my mom. She never financed my "starting over" bits in life; but she was always good for a roof and a meal, even when I came home with my son after a messy divorce, broke and homeless. I was not there long. Adult children cannot go home. This is not the "old country." We are fiercely independent and wean from parents as soon as possible. The "family home" is an archaic remnant of the past. Grown-ups "downsize" when the children move on.
My son has a powerful personality. I have found myself spending more and more time with my netbook, in my own room, escaping his very presence in the house. He's way over six foot tall with a booming voice and a bad attitude many days. He works diligently at his computer but hardly leaves the house. It's like being invaded by a presence that I should welcome, but one that is stifling. I do feel very safe at night; no longer double-checking bolts and lights.
Life is changing. I stopped inviting friends to my house. He often needs the car exactly when I need it, so I've adjusted my pretty set exercise routine to his car needs instead of the activities I enjoy. I accept invitations less, not wanting to share my distressful situation and knowing it will just pour out given a moment's opening. Sharing a home with an adult son is stressful.
He is very polite and asks for nothing. I have lived alone with all the privacy wrapped in that word, "alone," for probably too many years. He does judge my life; dropping little hints about why am I not so wealthy I can just set him up in business or something. Well, I'm not. I know he's angry at himself and the world and it comes out sideways toward me; but it hurts. Every mom wants her children to be proud just as they want her to take pride in their accomplishments. I spent a lot of my career helping other people restart their lives with education and jobs; yet, I have nothing to offer my son who discounts me completely because I have such a modest life. Any savings I had took a tumble in 2007.
The most unsettling part is the lack of a plan. How long will this situation last? When will the ecnomy turn and a job he's willing to accept land in his lap? Most of the women I know have spent their lives starting something over, with far fewer tools and more baggage than my son. They are still starting over at my age, me included. Yet, he seems to be dragged down so far that seeing the world as a place of hope and promise escapes him; he sees it through dark glasses.
I marched straight into a therapist when I found myself spiraling down at a particularly challenging point in my life. A couple sessions and I was on the way up again. Suggest a little professional help to my son and it's like I accused him of being crazy. Men can use a little guidance too!
Certainly, I am not alone. I noticed my next door neighbor a few months ago with extra cars, extra toys and two extra, young families. They looked like they were moving in. They haven't departed yet. I had lunch with a friend who wanted to get our sons together; hers was home after losing his restaurant franchise. He had a ten year old daughter to support also. At least my son has no dependent issues.
The income tax accountant suggested I put my son on my income tax as a dependent. I knew he would have none of that. He's just here for a visit; but his round trip ticket ran out today, the one I paid for with points I was saving for a cruise. Oh, my elderly mom spends winters with me; but she's such a sweet person it's like still living alone. I'm facing three generations in the same little two-bedroom house. If anyone needs an economic upturn, I do.
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