Thursday, April 01, 2010

waffling and wavering

Twelve hours ago, Charlie and I were settled that we would move to Virginia this summer.


But tonight, my mind runs wildly in all different directions.


As I was tucking William in to bed he whispered, "When I grow up, Mommy, I want to be a zoo keeper. Or maybe a scientist. Wait. Whaddya call those guys that collect bones?"

A paleontologist?

"Yeah, maybe when I grow up I'll be a padeotolodist." Then he looked around wistfully and said, "I'm growing up so fast Mommy. I'll be a pade ... padeo... whaddya call it again?"


"Yeah. I'll be a padeotologist in no time!"

There was a pang of sadness in my heart to hear him say that. Because I know that he is growing up fast and my days with our children living at home are surely numbered. Oh sure, they're still young and we've got plenty of time.

But there's no arguing that you blink and 10 years goes by...

I don't want to miss it.


My current job has me working out of the house. Most days, I sit and have breakfast and lunch with the children. Whenever Henry wakes up from a nap, he'll come curl up on my lap, with his little hand struggling to reach under my shirt. Although he's been weaned for almost four months, he still draws such comfort from having his hand simply touching my skin. I draw comfort from it, too. So he'll sit there on my lap quietly, for twenty minutes or more, while I update spreadsheets and check e-mail and nuzzle his hair and kiss his soft baby cheeks.

There are plenty of days I'm driving to meetings three or more hours away from our house, or spending time in the field, watching massive drill rigs put in groundwater monitoring wells. And at least once a quarter, I'm pulled away to a multi-day business meeting that the family may, or may not be able to attend with me. But on those days that I work from home, it frequently happens that my routine is interrupted by children who require hugs and my attention because, "MOM! LOOK AT ME! LOOK WHAT I CAN DO ... DRAW ... SAY ... SING!"

As a working mother, with small children at home, I truly couldn't ask for anything more.


I am lucky.

So lucky.

To have the luxury to be here, at home with them while they are young, and yet earn a living to support our family.

If I were to accept this new position, my job would be working in an office five days a week. Although I could be wrong, I don't expect that I'd have nearly the same amount of flexibility as I do now. If I were to accept this new position, our family would be in a new environment. Which I'm sure would be refreshing and fun. We would have the opportunity to experience seasons, and we'd be an equal distance, one day drive, to my mother in South Carolina and my father in Massachusetts.

Considering the cost to transport our entire family of six from one side of the country to the other is comparable to a seven year supply of milk, it's not like we can just pop in for every holiday and special occasion.


If I were to accept this position, my career would be relatively stable. If I don't accept this position, the chances are excellent that I'll be out of work in the next two years. If we move, whether or not Charlie will be able to continue with his venture, that is based primarily in California, is questionable. And if we don't move, whether or not Charlie will be capable of supporting our family with his venture by then is questionable. And I'm not confident enough to let my current employment (and benefits) fade away to take that giant leap of faith.

Although. Now that I've got Blogher Ads and Healthcare Reform has passed...

Eh. Never mind.

If we opt to stay in California, two years from now, the future is very uncertain. Whether or not we would have the ability to work from the home, as we do now, is questionable. If we opt to move, we would probably rent our house so we could always come back if things didn't work out. If we opt to move, we would probably buy a house because we'd rather have the tax shelter and build equity. Of course if we don't sell our home in California, we won't have very much to put down on a new home. And what we could comfortably afford in a Virginia real estate market which is eerily similar to the overpriced California market, very much resembles a small shoe box in a dense forest covered with snow.

If we move, we'll be closer to my family. But we'll be leaving a city, neighborhood and friends that we positively adore. We'll be leaving temperate weather and year round outdoor swimming. We'll be leaving a school that is within walking distance that our children were just recently enrolled in and due to start this July. We'll be leaving our small house, which I'm currently very much in love with because it is very affordable and very easy to clean and I know where the kids are at all times.

If we move, we'll be gone by the middle of the summer and instead of participating in San Diego's 3-Day breast cancer walk in November, I'll be participating in Washington DC's 3-Day breast cancer walk in October. And all of my cousins that are reading this blog (I know who you are) must be there.


I need to tell my boss by the end of this week what my decision is. At this moment, I have no idea what to say nor does my husband. And because I rely on the opinion of others far more than I should, I put a poll at the top left.


Please tell me what you'd do.


  1. say yes! i think you only end up regretting the things you don't do.

  2. I'd go and plan on making it a short term adventure. I live in the area where I think you are looking (Northern VA) and we hate it. Sure, there are a lot of things to do in DC - but living here is like living in a rat race. Everything is go, go, go. Houses are small, schools vary widely in competence, traffic is a nightmare, and there is an odd sense of competition among parents. We've been here for 18 years and have 4y twins and can't wait to move someplace with a slower pace of life and where we are spending less time commuting and more time with our kids. It may be a great place for you due to employment (it is for us) but I don't find it a great place to raise kids. Just my $.02. :)

  3. Pray pray pray...but to me it look like God has opened up this new opportunity for you since your current opportunity is being shut in two years time.

  4. Although this an intensely personal decision - I am going to throw my two cents in. I say move. Personally, I prefer stability (particularly right now in this economy) and if your job will be iffy if you stay....

    Although the East Coast isn't always warm & sunny - depending on where in VA you are looking at - Virginia has a fairly moderate climate and there is plenty of outdoor activities to be had; which you & your family love - so you wouldn't be giving that up.

  5. I was unable to cast my vote. I say move to Virginia. It is beautiful there.

  6. Yes, today I am reading your blog. I have been away to long. But, I have been really busy around here cleaning up after fires, mud in pools, school, the list goes on and on...some weeks I don't even keep up with my own blog. :)

    Move or Do not Move? That is the question.

    Follow your heart Jen; You and Charlie know what is best for family. You stay where you are and all you have is to depend on each other...THAT is NOT a bad thing. Security??? mmmm WHAT is that...Security is your husband and knowing you are trying your best for your family.

    Remember what my father always said, "If you are happy where you are, you will be happy were your going." If you listen you will hear him.

    I'm off to catch up on your life...Love you very much! I know YOU and Charlie can decide this one without me hitting a button. :)

  7. San Diego is not going anywhere. You can ALWAYS go back. Kids are resiliant that way.

  8. I live in Va and its nice..but it really depends on what area you're moving to. Williamsburg/yorktown are really nice (with outlet stores too!), out towards the mountains is much more 'country', and Richmond/Norfolk have nice areas (but also a lot of areas you want to definitely stay away from). And of course everything is nice up near DC but expensive as crap. If I had to choose, knowing what i do about Va, I'd probably stay in CA :) our summers are pure humidity.

  9. Ultimately, the only one who can make that decision is you and I know, as a stay at home mom, how hard the decision is.

    But here's my opinion- being close to family and developing those relationships is huge. HUGE. And lifelong. Plus, seasons! Yes, year round perfect weather is nice but seasons bring a gloriousness of its own.

    Good luck with the decision. I don't envy you guys and especially you, because I know you will worry and second guess yourself every single step of the way.

  10. I'm moving in two weeks Jen. My drive to work, shopping and friends will now be 30 minutes longer....but my family will only be two minutes away. I'm just sayin'.


  11. VA starts Kindergarten (some 1/2 day, some full depending on county) at age 5. I'd move to VA - they'll be in school ANYWAY, you might as well be gainfully employed. And a couple of formative years worth of setting up holiday traditions with their east coast side of families would be great - a great southern Christmas? Or white wintery one in MA? Sounds like heaven to me!!

  12. just voted and surprised at the results - nothing more important than making memories with kids - being there to share as much as possible with them for your sake and theirs - life is too uncertain - illness, etc- who knows what two years from now will bring -

  13. Oh honey, listen to your heart and it will tell you what to do. Lots of positive energy while you ponder your decision this week.

  14. What I'd do is make the move.

    Your family will stay together, no matter what, and no matter where. There's something to be said for secure finances when you have four mouths to feed. You are an extraordinary mother, and you will be able to share all your love with your children even if you're in an office during the week. The upside to an office job is that when you're home, you belong wholly to your family.

    In my family, I'm in Charlie's shoes. I'm the one whose career suffers when my husband's job moves us, but this is their time, hubby's to serve in a way that is deeply meaningful to him, and my kids' time to get the best of me. Deep job satisfaction can come for me once the kids are out of the house and hubby retires from the army. From all you've said about Charlie, he probably feels the same way. Having Grandma and Grandpa nearer - well, that would be a thick layer of calorie-free buttercream icing.

    You may not see your neighbours and friends every day, but they will stay part of your lives. (My neighbourhood support system is about to be fractured by three military transfers in quick succession. I'm going to miss my friends' and my kids' near-siblings desperately, but we won't be losing touch.)

  15. Oh I don't envy your position. Though I think in these times esp, when a job is not certain-- if you have an opportunity to continue to continue to provide for your growing family-- you almost have to take it.


    My thoughts are with you!

  16. Call me crazy, but anything can happen in the next 2 years. For now you would have 2 years of this type of work schedule, in a lovely climate. If your job were to go away in 2 years you could find work elsewhere then.
    Charlie could find other work by then, or his business could take off.
    Knowing now that it's a possibility you could begin planning for it financially.
    I'm a big believer in having faith that what you are doing now is best for your family and something will work out. Again 2 years is a long time.
    As far as visiting family, I agree being able to is nice, but it's not daily life. Take into consideration what daily life will be like, away from home in an office all day.

  17. I can't vote... you didn't put an "All of the above" option. Man, it's a tough choice.

    Don't have words of wisdom. Just a promise that with either decision, you're friends aren't going anywhere. Blogs and Facebook and email make sure of that.

  18. VA all the way, baby.

    A good friend once told me:

    "Go with whatever makes your heart beat faster".

    plus my email sig:

    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you
    didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines.
    Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
    Explore. Dream. Discover." [Attrib: Mark Twain]

    You will never know if you don't go. And you can always come 'home'.

    ps Family wins. If you move to VA, you will still be a family, AND closer to your family - which from your blog posts appears to be really important to you.

  19. Whatever happens, you're not alone on the may not totally believe in this Christian stuff, but, there is One who's looking out for you and will provide for you guys no matter what. Good things will be in Virginia, good things will happen if you stay - but you might regret in the future not taking the chance that you have now.

    I have a similar (only verly slightly similar) decision to make, moving from one school to another...which would result in less pay, possible non-residency, longer (harder) hours, a move from my own apartment to a shared one...and although this would sound like complete and utter backwards craziness to anyone else - I think I'm up for the challenge, and the call to fulltime youth ministry. We'll see....

    But you're not alone! Plus, you've got your husband and kids by your side. It sounds like no matter what you do, you'll find an adventure, somewhere and somehow...

  20. Get the hell out of Dodge.......CA's economy is going to tank even more.

    YES, it's lovely here. YES, it's familiar. But there are so many pros -- solid employment being a big one --- that you should roll with it. It's time.

    If we had the opportunity, we would leave CA as well.

  21. I voted for Virginia, but I think you should talk to your new boss first and express that in order to accept the position, you have to have flexibility and be able to work from home at least some of the time.

  22. I am in no way telling you what you should do but I will tell you what I would do. I would take the job in Virginia. The stability would far outweigh the other things I would be worried about. Is there a way Charlie could run his new business on the East Coast and just go on a trip out West when needed?

    I remember when you were debating Disneyland or your business trip to VA and from I remember, it was northern Virginia. So I'm guessing that's where you would be moving. It is a beautiful area and very expensive to live in. From what I hear from friends, it's a hectic place if you're in the DC circles at all (politics). I was born and raised in Virginia Beach (the most South Eastern part of the state) and the Navy has just recently brought us back here. I have seen almost all of Virginia throughout my life and just about all of it is nice. Someone mentioned Williamsburg and that is a gorgeous part of VA, but may be a bit of a commute for you. The public schools in Northern VA are some of the best in the state if that's what you're worried about. I don't know what you should choose. Only you and Charlie can decide. But I do know that as far as the VA environment goes, it's a great place to raise a family.

  23. Tough one!

    Thing is - if you move you will always have the option to move back, but if you don't move then you'll never know what may have happened.

    For me - family is a big deal clincher, no matter how lovely the weather is in CA and the fact you can work from home. A large commute to family only gets tougher as the kids get older, and by jove I wish I had had the opportunity to live closer to my aunts, uncles and cousins when I was younger (and older too!). As half my family are on the other side of the world!

    I say move - California will always be there and would be nice for the kiddos to have a fresh start for kindergarten any how!

    But that's just me - somehow I have always found the whole prospect and process or moving really exciting!

    Go with your gut - it's always right, even if it doesn't seem so now.

    Good luck:O)

  24. I voted to go to VA but I say you have to do what is BEST for your family. Family and job-security *far* out-weigh nice weather in my opinion. Beautiful weather is great, don't get me wrong but you can never get time with your parents back once it is gone forever. You have many, many, many years to live back in CA if you so decide. Your kids are at perfect ages to move...another year or two and it would be MUCH harder. I think renting your house is a fabulous idea because then you can always go back if you want/need to. You and Charlie always seem up for an adventure anyway. Good luck and hope an answer comes to you soon!


  25. What a tough situation. We actually lived in the DC area (Bethesda) for 4 years, then moved to San Diego 2.5 years ago (both moves were for my husband to take yet another post-doc that supposedly would better position him for faculty or pharma jobs in the future...but that's another story). Our one child was born 1 year after we moved to SD; we didn't have kids while we were in the DC area.

    DC had a lot going for it (and I would think it would be a great place with kids), but we also grew quickly frustrated with the atmosphere -- people are so incredibly career-driven; summers were miserable; traffic was a nightmare (we were so happy to see that SD traffic was nowhere near as bad) and commutes were crazy for most people; population density seemed an order of magnitude (at least) higher than it does in SD; etc.

    We have been so much happier in SD, even though I think the state of CA still has a long way to go before getting out of its huge economic mess. The cost of living in the 2 places is similar (housing in particular), but being able to get fresh, local produce year-round in SD has been a boon for us, as has the more general friendliness (real or perceived) of people in this region.

    It's a tough call and I don't envy your position right now -- hoping you can find some clarity soon.