After some time, when I realized that I had gone as far as I could in my present position, I decided to look for a new opportunity.
I became the official Assistant to the President of a diversified merchandising company. Over the following three years, I cultivated a greater confidence in myself, refined my skills, extended my abilities and absorbed quite a bit of new information in the areas of administration, advertising and human relations.
During that period, I also happened to encounter a wonderful man who admired and respected me as a total human being and who adored my children. Garrett Cohn’s gentleness and acceptance won my heart so we decided to get married. He had also been divorced and his children lived with their mother in San Francisco. We both had good jobs, but financially our circumstances were far from worry-free; however, we had a strong belief in ourselves and in our potential as we set out on a road to the future.
Nine months later, we were dealt an unexpected blow — Garrett’s former wife died and his two small children came to live with us. I now had four children children: three girls and a boy, aged four, five, seven and nine!
Needless to say, times were somewhat rough for all of us. Adjusting to married life again while trying to keep my own children’s lives on as much of an even keel as possible had been hard enough. Now, there was the additional challenge of attempting to integrate two additional, and grieving children into our new family. We began family therapy with a strict Adlerian psychiatrist and immersed ourselves in the subject of raising children in a “blended family.”
Adam, Garrett’s eldest son, had learning disabilities which led us to search in many directions for answers. He was not going to be accepted into the local school system until he had obtained a release from his psychiatrist. It took six months of therapy to enable his return to public school. Laura, his young daughter, had evolved into premature adulthood in an attempt to keep her world together. She had to be the boss and the other kids reacted by calling her the “grandma.” My daughters, Michelle and Sharon – bolstered, I believe, in the constancy of my presence throughout all the changes in their lives – opened their arms and their hearts to their new steplings, a brother, a sister and a father.
In the early years of my second marriage, I was still working full-time. We had moved to a rented house in the suburbs because Garrett, supported by memories of his own childhood in small-town Iowa, believed that children should live where they could look out and see trees and grass. Personally, I don’t even know how we got through the next few years. There were no social services for working mothers with children. Even pre-schools were few and expensive. Finding reliable help was also extremely difficult; but, somehow we managed.
During those years, our children eventually became “latchkey” kids. Garrett left for the city each morning and I went off to my new job with a large meat-importing company. We were all growing, learning and struggling with constant change in our lives, trying to make some sense of it all. I developed an ulcer. My doctor strongly suggested that I slow down a bit. Just the opportunity I needed to go back to school!
Lesson Four: Turn lemons into lemonade.