In the spin cycle of survival

It being my assignment to write the cover story for the RN&R’s annual Women’s Issue, I was going to write about why women don’t get ahead in the work world. I’d recently read something on this but couldn’t really remember where I’d read it. San Francisco Chronicle? Washington Post? Ely Daily Times? I spent a half-hour trying to remember previously used Google search terms.

“Women, work, inequity"? “Gender gap, employment"? “Glass ceiling, female"?

“Mom, did you see my socks?”

My daughter, let’s call her No. 4, had washed her own soccer gear, but the dryer ate her footwear.

Tip for working moms: Get kids doing their own laundry as soon as possible. Toddlers can learn to throw a cup of Tide on their grubby rompers. This will save time you can use to finish work brought home from the office or school. In my case, that’s a hefty stack of papers to grade.

You may still have to search for socks.

I recommended a peek into the Black Hole—the laundry room closet cum bottomless pit of unmatched socks, hand towels, bits of Kleenex and gum wrappers.

She was pawing around in it when the phone rang.

Tip for moms of teens: Don’t waste time answering the phone. It’s not for you.

A friend of my son, No. 5, wanted to go to the skate park. Could I give them a ride?

My husband of 22 years walked down the stairs. Was I ready to return the U-Haul?

We’d moved our college students out of the house the night before, renting (at $200 for 24 hours) a thunking, squeaking, gas-guzzling truck with the lie “$19.95 a day” painted on its exterior.

Now the truck needed to go back, No. 5 needed a ride to Mira Loma, and No. 4 had a soccer game at Wooster High.

Did I mention that my in-laws were due to arrive for a week-long visit? With my oldest kids gone, we finally had a guest room—a big empty guest room.

“Do you want to shop for a bed before we take the U-Haul back?”

“Yeah, and we should go to the Reno-Sparks Gospel Mission thrift store and pick up a washer and dryer for the kids.”

Tip for moms on a budget: Accustom your children to wearing second-hand clothes when they’re two, and they’ll appreciate used appliances when they’re 20.

The phone rang and, lo and behold, it was for me. My second oldest son, No. 2, who works for Briarwood Finer Flowers on East Plumb Lane, needed a ride from there to Goodyear in Sparks to pick up his car. He also needed a $600 loan.

Tip for moms of adults: Even with self-sufficient kids, don’t assume life will get immediately easier or cheaper once they’re out of the nest.

My oldest son, No. 1, called from Barnes & Noble, where he steams up lattes for the literary masses. He was trying to reach No. 2. He wanted to know what I was making for dinner.

“Dinner?” I said.

No. 2 called back. I told him to call No. 1.

The phone rang. Revision to above tip: Phone calls might be for you, but it won’t be your pals calling to invite you to the movies.

It was my 18-year-old daughter, No. 3, who attends TMCC.

“Will you take a look at my history paper?” she asked. “It’s due tomorrow.”

“Yeah, sure,” I said, “after I grade another 76 freshmen essays, buy a washer and dryer, take No. 5 to the skate park, pick up No. 2 at work, go to No. 4’s soccer game, make dinner, clean the house because Grandma and Grandpa are coming and, oh yeah, finish writing this week’s column.”

“OK,” said No. 3. “No problem. What are you writing about?”