My Three Lives

The sun is so bright on these crisp fall days. My garden bench 2014.

The sun is so bright on these crisp fall days. My garden bench 2014.

I awakened this morning wondering if I had plugged my iPad into its wall socket last night. I use the iPad everyday and charge it every night.  I suspect others have a similar routine.  These days, I am retired from the workforce, but having spent most of my working life using one form of electronic gizmo or other, using my iPad, laptop, or computer each day seems normal.  It’s as if I never left work or school.  Perhaps that’s the key to a happy retirement, to establish a routine that fills some basic need for order and continuity.

                                                               —000—

In the 1950s, I watched I Led Three Lives on TV.  The protagonist had one life as a husband, one as a spy, and a day job that served as his cover.  I led three lives also, one as a homemaker, one as a student, and one as an office worker.  I enjoyed all three, and at different times one took precedence over the other two.

The first part of my adult life, until I was 28, homemaking was my main activity.  A teenage mother, I had teen aged friends who married young and had children around the same time I did, one of whom, Sherry is a friend today.

Those were good days in many ways.  We were a military family and we traveled. I raised three children to their tween years, learned to cook southern style, improved my sewing skills and made all my own clothes, including evening dresses, and raised a vegetable garden and canned and froze my summer produce. During this time, I held a series of part-time jobs outside the home to earn money to pay for school. After I turned 28, I did this while attending classes.

Toward the end of this period, I would rush home from school, turn on the TV and watch the Watergate hearings. Little did I know that a few years later I would work for the U.S. Congress.

One of my part-time jobs was in the college library, and when I wasn’t reading text books, I read inflammatory material like Simone de Bouvier’s Second Sex and Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique. (Years later, I met Betty Friedan and Margaret Mead at professional meetings in NYC and almost swooned.)

I have written elsewhere about my break with my early adult life.  I am not going to repeat those posts.  I figure if my kids and grandkids are curious, they will look for them.  To me the past is a cancelled check.  Let’s just say the Women’s Movement caught up to me.

My next life involved college where I worked on and completed several degrees while simultaneously working in an office and carrying out residual homemaker activities, albeit, sans husband and large garden and with teen age kids.

Because I was a teen age mom, I had never completed high school, so these degrees were major accomplishments for me.

 Simultaneously, I held several jobs, at one point, three part-time jobs, while attending day and night classes.  Eventually, I cut back to one full-time job and school.  I never left school, completing my last graduate degree after I retired.

The entire time I was working in an office, I was working on one degree or other. My employer, AT&T, paid for my coursework, and let me work flexible hours. My oldest kids were in college by now. Those were good days.

In my late 40s, I retired from the Bell System, and went to work for the Census Bureau for several more years retiring from the government with 17 years service about 8 years ago.

Now after a busy “outside life” I am happy to have the time to read or reread all those books I accumulated over the years.  Am never I bored.  I can always find something to do as long as I remember to plug my iPad, computer and phone into their wall sockets. And yes, I have recipe books on my iPad because I still cook.

9 thoughts on “My Three Lives

  1. I started out my ‘adult’ life the same way you did as a teen-aged mother (in the late 50s). But after that my life seems quite ordinary compared to yours. (Thought the feminist message was interesting, liked learning about it, didn’t do anything personally about it. Still with the same husband.) I like it that way ( no complaints and in fact happy and quite grateful) .. ..it just doesn’t make such an interesting story. (I did finish high school and some college and worked all the time while we were raising our 4 kids…. but — obviously ….. nothing like what you did.) And I also love having the time now for self-education and reading (which, again obviously, in my case leaves a lot more ground to cover!)

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    • Too bad my first marriage wasn’t successful.. the failure had to do with factors other than my seeking personal liberation, as my kids and friend Sherry know, but I won’t elaborate here. The women’s Movement was serendipitous and came along at the right moment. I simply benefited from it.. Its easier to make this connection than to explain. I took advantage of the opportunities other people created for me.

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      • Oh I didn’t mean my comment in any way at all to be critical of you Dianne, Mentioning the fem. lit was just a way to say that I was and still am intellectually lazy! The whole comment was meant just to say that at least we have the one thing in common — a rather rough start and we both survived! You have done so much more and have so much to be proud of. And that I do have a tiny idea of how hard it was!

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      • Survivor is a good word. Fortunately for me I had a good support group. I was never a radical feminist, and unlike some of them, I don’t think men are the enemy. David has been very supportive of all my efforts. I often say to him I wish we had been together when we were younger. And, for all the good it does I wish he that he was the father of my children. My daughter calls David her ‘Sober’ dad. And my sons love him too. Their biological father died mostly as a consequence of alcohol and cigarettes, so it’s been hard for them.

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  2. You have had a very interesting life Dianne and I truly admire you for your accomplishments. My advice to any young girl, to anyone boy or girl, but for girls because of their vulnerability, get an education and a job where you could support yourself well. It can be done as you’ve proven. I have a couple of friends who always were dutiful wives in the old fashioned sense of the word, who are now on their own for one reason or another, and really struggling. A good education can open up so many doors.

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