'He's cute' she smiled as I showed her an iPhone photograph of Mario. One of the few I have of him. This one was taken at the old Suas Coffeehouse location during my trip earlier this year in February.
'He looks young' she continued. 'Is he young?'
'He's a year older than me' I replied returning her smile and adding '...and he's tall'.
After over a year of us having last met, we were finally able to get together once again to catch up on the latest in our lives. Our rendezvous took place at a taco place not too far from my house.
She wanted to know how things were going with Mario and me. When I told her we were engaged, she gasped with surprise. Then again, the last time we met for drinks I had just returned from my summer in Ireland and Berlin. I was not engaged at that time.
We talked about marriage and relationships and how it takes two to make a marriage work and one to tear it apart. If one partner was not willing to put in the effort, she stated, the relationship would fall apart as you cannot make the other person want to change the circumstances. Nor can you expect one person to keep things going if the other partner did not feel the same.
I told her about my work situation and having had my offer of employment rescinded yesterday due to my wish to see my children during the two weeks per month they are with me. The question I posed last week about whether I would still have a job if my children were sick and I needed to stay home was indirectly answered.
I explained to her it was the company's inflexibility which I still do not understand and how I now have the challenge of finding an employer sympathetic to the needs of a single mother who has to balance being there for her children with putting in the hours in order to bring home a paycheck.
Whether it is the husband or wife who stays at home, most couples do not realise just how much work the stay-at-home parent does until such unfortunate time comes that they decide to separate. Though the parent who stays at home earns no salary, his or her contribution is quite significant as there is no replacement for a parent's being there for his children. No nanny or babysitter or daycare worker can give children the love and attention they need.
We discussed the difficulties for a mother to be there for her children whilst pursuing a career. We both agreed it was near impossible to be able to focus our full attention to a growing family if we also wished to be out of the house and in the office earning an income. 'Something's gotta give' she stated.
She went on to recall her own decision of leaving the workplace in order to raise her children whilst letting her husband take the responsibility of bringing home a paycheck. I told her this was the exact reason we moved to Austin though it did not work out in the end. In such a case, the term 'my money' has no business entering into a conversation as it did in my place. It is 'our money'. The stay-at-home parent should never feel as if they do not contribute as much as their partner who earns a salary.
Having lived in Austin for the past ten years, I have made few connections with those around me. When you are busy with a new family and have no place of employment, the opportunities to meet other people are few. It then becomes easier to simply remain in the comfort of our homes than to venture outdoors.
Certainly in this age of technology we connect with more people online than we tend to do in person. A sad but true fact. But when we do manage to take that step outside and meet up with someone, it can be quite rewarding. We sat there for close to two hours talking and promised to keep in touch as we parted ways. We both smiled as I told her I would invite her to the wedding.