A few days ago, Brian and I made our way to a tall office building in the big city. Time to face facts: we were in need of some good counsel. We'd had challenges in the past, but this was a whole new row to hoe.
Back in the day when Brian was in university full-time and managing The Keg in his spare time to support me and the babies, we had our share of challenges. I used to moarn in those days that all I really wanted was enough money to have a nice clothesline, and a block of cheddar cheese in the fridge. Cheese was a real indulgence in those days.
Fast forward 10-odd years and picture us with a house full of kids, the fridge bursting with cheddar and boursin, a collection of debts to repay, and both adults gainfully employed. It seems we had survived to the point of having some choices and needing to ask some hard questions. Would we be able to retire before the age of eighty? Had we painted ourselves irrevocably into any corners?
Our chosen advisor began by asking us a few questions about our jobs. He seemed well pleased with all of Brian's answers, including that he had a retirement fund, some benefits, and that he was in the field that he really enjoyed. Then he turned to me.
The gist of his summation was that I was too nice. I needed to become more calculating. Kind, but calculating. "You need to think like a business woman"; were his words, I believe. He was eloquent, but his basic message was: "If you're going to work that hard, you really should be making some half decent money".
I don't like to be told. I don't like being the focus of attention, unless it was MY idea first. I don't either like to be set up for failure. "Aim low, and you can't miss" is more agreeable to me. Still, I had to think through what the man had said. Words like: "You don't have to be the cheapest daycare in town, you have to be the best", and "target your customers- they'll choose you because of your reputation, and they will respect you for it".
I missed my ten oclock bedtime that night, all that stimulation and virtual hand-slapping made me feel a little tensed up. I liked the idea of not working six days a week, and actually catching up, possibly going on a family holiday before Arianna turned thirty-seven but, the whole business thing made my skin crawl. I'm a hearts and mush type, not a rows and columns gal.
Sleeping on it seemed sensible. I dreamed that I was trying to locate a phone so that I could call work to apologize that there was no way I could make it on time. I went from phone to phone, but not one had numbers on it. I just couldn't dial the number.
I awoke to the sound of a truck idleing in my driveway. I flew out from under the covers, hair wild and flannels flapping as I raced down to open the door to child and father, cell phone in hand.
Maybe polishing up my image would be simpler than I'd imagined. Like the tired motels along the trans-Canada whose weathered signs read: "Air conditioning! Colour tvs!" I could work on a poster to hang in the local grocery store: