Mashed Potato Bulletin

By Susan Saulny

The layoff notice was not a complete surprise. At the shipping center in Denver where Jeanine Maez filled mail orders, the trend had been toward paperless transactions.

But how Mrs. Maez reacted to being unemployed in 2004 was a revelation, even to herself: she decided not to look for a new job in favor of staying home full time with her five children, the youngest of whom, a son, is 11.

“The years of ‘winging it’ with my husband in terms of taking care of the kids had been too hard, and I was tired,” she said. “And my youngest son, who is autistic, needed his mama.”

To make ends meet, Mrs. Maez, 44, sold her car, paid off her credit card debt and disciplined herself to spend more modestly on clothes and household goods. Her husband, a private investigator, took a second job selling insurance. “Whatever it…

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