the lame reason why i quit my full-time job

This is from a shoot I did a few years ago and it seemed an appropriate graphic.

One day, while working in my elaborate home office (aka my fancy shmancy standing desk smooshed against my bed) I heard a loud thump followed by my four year old child screaming in pain. I ran, opened my bedroom door and there he was with our child care provider: crying hysterically, sporting a fresh bloody gash and a large plum sized knot swelling and taking up a large amount of real estate on his tiny forehead.

As I gathered the blubbering boy into my arms, I one-handed slacked my (super star and very understanding) boss that I had to rush my son to the pediatrician to see if he needed stitches. And after that, I rolled him, in the stroller he had outgrown months ago, a few blocks to a plastic surgeon with not so great bedside manner with my kid (“Sit still! I have to look at that nasty laceration! Ya gotta sit still, BUDDY!” Which meant that, once again, I had to take time off from my job as the shittiest program manager in the history of program managers.

Just before Covid hit New York City, my husband and I purchased an apartment in New York City. I said “Adios!” to my life as a working actress and was ready for a steady income to help support my family. I was ready for the change and didn’t mind that I quit acting, the thing I’d been doing my whole adult life.

In February 2020, I was balls to the walls working my tail off at a tech company. I really enjoyed it, I learned new things every day, loved my office mates. But most of all: I had dignity, (I had a heavy dose of attaching my value to the amount of money I brought in). The years of being an actress were very good, but now that we were GROWN UPS and HAD AN APARTMENT, I decided to be a real woman and bring home the bacon.

A month into my new job, our friend COVID-19 made her grand entrance to New York City and immediately killed over 15,000 people. 28,000 is where we currently stand in NYC. Luckily I kept my job but after a year, the pandemic took a toll on me, bla bla I couldn’t function, completely exhausted and in a fog whilst my little son went completely off the rails.

I looked down at my little guy and thought: “Wow, we are two steps away from Child Protective Services whisking him away to a better mother.”

The gash on my little guy’s head was a wakeup call. An inner voice (with a Southern, Alabamian accent) said kindly but firmly said: “Honey child, you need to change things up, PRONTO!”

I gave notice. The knot in my heart vanished. I no longer felt like I was being split in two.

After one week of me being a newly “fully-present mom” my son went from being a hyper, horrid gargoyle wreaking havoc on our entire family and transformed into a sweet, funny, talkative little boy who wanted hugs and kisses. Additionally, my older daughter, hated me a lot less and was 10% less embarrassed by me.

So that is the boring story about why I quit my job.

What are my next steps? Spending less. Brown bag lunches. Eating, exercising and sleeping soundly. I have so much more energy and my attitude sucks much less than when I was working.

I’m gingerly reacquainting myself with being a loving wife and mother (“Babe! Holy *$%#$^&&!! You let the kids stay up HOW LATE? Get your ass in bed!”) and taking it one day at a time.

A few months before I quit, my old talent agent emailed to see if I was open to working with him again. I was like: “I’m working HAM AT MY JOB. How DARE you email with such a preposterous query. I DON’T EVEN HAVE TIME TO WRITE THIS EMAIL TO YOU!! GOOD DAY, SIR!!”

UPDATE: After a month of quitting my job I reached back out to my talent agent. And so, just like that I’m yelling: “Game On!” in the middle of a suburban street, dragging the hockey net back into the middle of the street after a car passes our play area.

I signed with my old agent and a new manager…so I guess I’m back to being an actress again.

AND SCENE!

How Fleabag’s Dead Mum Saves the Day in Season 2

Statue of Fleabag's mother, created by her Godmother

Here are some of my thoughts of the amazing show, Fleabag created by the illustrious Phoebe Waller-Bridge

WARNING SPOILER ALERT: THIS POST IS FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE SEEN SEASON 1 AND 2

I thought about why Fleabag’s father, sister AND her Godmother are so hostile towards her and it’s because despite being a fuckup, she is loved, she is funny and especially because Fleabag reminds them of her dead mother.
 
By all accounts Fleabag’s mother was also beautiful, funny and beloved by all and it must be painful for the father to see Fleabag who reminds him of the love that he lost.

Fleabag’s resemblance to her mother is particularly disturbing to her Godmother (soon to be stepmother). Fleabag’s existence is a constant reminder to the Godmother that she will never measure up to the original mother she desperately wants to replace. The bond between Fleabag and her father irritates the future Godmother so deeply and overall, she is threatened by the unwavering love between her fiancé and his daughters.

Drawing of Fleabag or Phoebe

In fact, upon further reflection – the amazing qualities of Fleabag’s mother permeate Season 2 in such a loving and gentle manner that you realize it is very possible the episode is an unspoken love letter to her mother.

The gold statue – a symbol of the mother – shows up in so many unusual ways.

The Godmother created a tiny gold (literal) bust of Fleabag’s mother with no arms or legs or head, just the body. Did she create this statue with the mother actually modeling? What drove the Godmother her to create it? To empower herself and diminish the mother’s presence in her mind? Or is the statue a tribute of love to her friend, and a token of gratitude for the new family she has acquired? While the statue is small it is made of precious material and it’s extremely valuable.

Fleabag steals it when she desperately needs financial help to keep her cafe financially afloat. Of all pieces of her Godmother’s, how could she unknowingly steal the statue of her mother?

I also thought about how the statue “saves the day” for Claire’s presentation after Fleabag accidentally destroys the impeccable glass award Claire so painstakingly chose.

And at the very end, in the dank bus stop when she loses the love of her life, she pulls the statue out and it seems to give her solace.

The statue quietly vibrates with life and her mother’s presence gives Fleabag the unconditional love she needs in a moment where she is (and we are) completely shattered.

Fleabag & Hot Priest

The Significance of Fleabag’s Motherand Motherhood in General

Fleabag’s mother also quietly upends the myth of the asexual “good mother” who is dutiful and and lives for her child. 

When you see paintings of mothers in the male gaze it’s usually an angelic woman “sitting with child” and fulfilling her domestic duties: giving a child a bath, breastfeeding or holding a child as if she is the Virgin Mary personified.

These images of how mothers are portrayed aren’t empowering for women who have children as these ideals subtly reinforce the sentiment that no matter how much mothers progress professionally: a “good mother” stays at home with her children and are always haplessly out of touch and ineffective.

Source: “Korean Mother & Child” By Elizabeth Klein (1924)

Even comedians cartoonishly portray their own mothers in a buffoonish “mom jeans” fashion and the Fleabag series completely throws this paradigm out the window.

Fleabag’s mother (though unseen) is portrayed as beautiful, complex woman who is not defined by a vocation, her children or other external things like status or education, but by simply being authentically herself, just as Fleabag does.

That said, it is quite clear that, despite her mother living a full life on her own terms, her unconditional love for her daughter was never sacrificed. Though Fleabag’s mother affection is never explicitly shown in the series, it is unmistakable that she loved her daughter very much and vice versa.

Her mother is one of the most reliable and purest forms of love Fleabag ultimately turns to when she faced one of her most challenging moments.

Fleabag realizes that despite being devastated by the priest choosing God over her,*she* was the one that she was looking for all along. 

This feeling is so beautifully highlighted by the Alabama Shakes singing: “But it feels so nice to know I’m gonna be alright.” and you know she means it as she motions to the camera she no longer needs it’s artifice to live.