Monday, May 03, 2010

i'm just waiting for the skywriter

I can't recall ever feeling so torn about making a decision, in my entire life.

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This is absolutely ridiculous.

I've prayed so much and have received so many conflicting 'signs' that I've resigned myself to asking God that He please send an airplane towing a written message across the sky to alleviate any uncertainty once and for all.

A lot of people have told me that there is no correct choice. I completely disagree. I believe that there IS a choice that is better than others. A choice that will allow me flexibility in my life to be with my children more throughout the day. A choice that will allow my husband and I a better opportunity to raise our family, together. A choice that will create less stress - financially, emotionally and physically.

I think I know what that choice is.

And I'm just not very happy with it.

Because it means that we won't experience moving in to a cool new house, we won't have the thrill of seasons, I won't be safeguarding my career, and I won't be an inch closer to my parents. And I highly doubt I'll ever have an opportunity like THIS one, again.

But. Then. I remember.

If we move, I will be required to be in an office every day. Chances are, I'll be gone from the house upwards of 10 hours a day. And while I'm not opposed to working long hours, I am opposed to being gone for such a large stretch of time from my small children who are only awake for around 12 hours each day and who aren't going to be small, forever.

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The time that I would see them, would be a flurry of busyness in the morning - as I dash out the door to work - and again at night, when I return home in my formal business attire and ditch my attaché by the door so I can quickly swing in to the bedtime routine.

Then again...

If I were to work in an office everyday, I'd probably have a much better work-life balance than I do, currently. Because some days, I will work 15 hours a day. And the truth is, I have a very difficult time juggling work and life. I'll often get on my computer to work first thing in the morning - taking small breaks throughout the day only to sit and play with the children, or read them stories - and remain on my computer, while still working, until the late hours of the night. And the next day, it starts all over again. I'll get so distracted with work - and children - there are absolutely no breaks for me.

If I was in an office, my work day would begin and it would end. When I'd leave for work in the morning, I'd know I'd have the next eight plus hours of time, completely devoid of children asking you to tie their shoes, or listen to what just happened, or look at how I learned to use a jump rope!

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If I was in an office every day, I'd have time - undisturbed - in which to work. When I'd leave the office and go home for the night, work wouldn't come with me. And since there is an exercise facility on the campus of the office, I'd have ample time - every day - to work out, over lunch.

It sounds idyllic.

Except, I'd only see my beautiful children two hours a day.

And that sounds very much like Hell on fire.

Because my husband is extremely qualified, and we fully want to explore all options available to us, Charlie has been interviewing with a few different entities regarding employment. Of course, if Charlie were to accept a full time job, I'd quit mine, since we've made the commitment that one of us will be home with the children.

But the challenge that we've discovered is that if Charlie works full time, his schedule will pull him away for 11+ hours a day, as well. Which, YES, I know that's just how it is and some people have it a lot worse, but the thing is ... for the past six years ... we've been incredibly spoiled. And neither of us are ready to go in to that full time rat race again, where we'd be away from home all day busy, busy, busy. Especially considering our current situation and recognition that in a short while, it's going to be very helpful to have all hands on deck. Moreover, none of the employment opportunities that Charlie has considered would offer nearly the same long term benefits that my employer does.

Sometimes I feel so stagnant here. Like I've been treading water for a long (long, long, long) time, just waiting to push off the wall and propel myself to the next stop in this pool of life.

When I was expecting the triplets, we thought about moving in to a new house. When I was expecting Henry, we thought about moving in to a new house. Since Henry has arrived, I've received no less than three job opportunities that would move us in to a new area. Some people might think that I'm creating my own stress ... and maybe I am. But it certainly doesn't help that my job will be gone in two years and every one is telling me if I don't jump soon, I will run out of time. Whenever an offer comes up, I'm expected to at least consider it. And since things will be drying up in the next few years, I'd be foolish to not think about what lies down the road.

With each of the opportunities that have come up, it never felt like the right fit. And although I'd graciously say, "No," I always felt like I wasn't being a faithful employee. Because someone who really had their career at the front of their radar would have accepted an opportunity long ago.

Maybe I would have, too.

If I didn't have four small children at home.

With the economy being what it is - and the scarcity of jobs - I do want to keep my career at the front of my radar because I want to insure that my family has stability. It's very important to me that we have excellent medical benefits and food in the refrigerator and absolutely no fear that we won't be able to make our next mortgage payment. And if Dreyer's ice cream isn't on sale and it's been a particularly difficult day, I want to be able to afford it, anyway.

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This time, the job transfer did feel right. Although there was definitely some waffling, what it came down to is that for the first time in 20 years, we received a "free" ticket to be closer to my family. Although there was no discussion of a "promotion" (aka, increased salary) we felt confident that we'd be able to make ends meet, despite moving in to a more costly home.

But then.

Everything changed. And now, I suddenly realize that the best arrangement for me is to have the flexibility to work from home ... and possibly, work part time, for at least the next few years. And I don't see how we could comfortably live off one part-time salary, in a house with a mortgage possibly 30% higher than our current mortgage.

So we stay here. And kiss goodbye the free ticket back east and dream of living closer to my family, and experiencing seasons and a white Christmas. And instead, we start considering what we're going to do in two years when we have NO jobs.

DEEP BREATHS.

Today, we took the children to Balboa Park. Elizabeth was riding on the carousel and she was frantic to get off one ride, and on to the next. From her position on the merry-go round, she had already figured out the next attraction she wanted to visit and where she wanted to sit.

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Much to my dismay, my five-year-old was totally absorbed with anticipation as she planned what was coming up next and in doing so, failed to experience the joy in the moment. Although I told her to just relax and savor the ride that she was on, I could certainly understand her struggles.

She is my daughter, after all.

27 comments:

  1. I just want to say that if you DON'T take this new position everything that you'd be staying for WILL be gone in the next couple of years.... You know it & it's as simple as that. Sure Charlie might have found something by then... but it still wont have all the benefits & whatnot that you feel are important.

    If you DO take this job you'll also have the added benefit of being CLOSE to family for support in the times to come. Support you will no doubt be in serious need of & who better to be there at your side than family which you don't have now & haven't been able to have much of in the entirety of your childrens lives thus far.

    I'm just going off of everything you've posted & to me the decision seems to point in this direction pretty clearly based on what is MOST important to you & loosing EVERYTHING in a couple years just isn't it. Not considering how much you VALUE stability, which I completely agree, that with a family is extremely IMPORTANT.

    I am so sorry this is so hard for you. I can feel the pain of your turmoil through your writing & pray that you will find peace in it all very very soon.

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  2. Wow. You're so lucky to have a job after all of the "I changed my mind again!" garbage you've been giving your boss. It's your blog, but, holy cow, you've been a whiny baby lately!

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  3. I'm sorry I posted a hasty comment. I was rude and I shouldn't have hit the publish button. Best of luck in whatever you decide.

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  4. I apologize in advance for this being a long comment.

    Seven months ago my husband made a job change. My gut feeling said this change was not going to be a good one. His gut feeling said the timing was just right as he felt the company he had worked for for 10 years was on the verge of failing.

    We were both right.

    Since he left that company and went to work for a MAJOR competitor he has had 6 people from his prior company call and ask him for job leads. The company is falling apart.
    He once again read the writing on the wall and left a bad job situation to find a better one so that he could provide security for our family.

    I was right in that he has worked about 70 hours a week for the last 8 weeks. On the days he works only nine hours, he is unreachable due to constant meetings. He has been able to watch our daughter pitch only 2 full softball games this season and that is what is bothering him most of all. That and the fact that our son leaves home in 3 weeks and Dad is stuck at work 70 hours a week and unable to be home in the evenings to watch baseball or take a run with him.

    Thankfully our kids are very understanding about this and since they are teenagers, they have better things to do than think about their parents.

    But we know. We know that Dad is not there for those important moments. This job change has really changed the dynamics of our home and we are still finding our new normal.

    I know you know how quickly time flies as a parent. You will blink your eyes and your children will no longer want you to hold their hand or walk around the block with them. They will be driving down the street to get a pizza with friends.

    If you can at all afford it, I encourage you to err on the side of time with your children. You will not regret it. I only feel comfortable saying this because you are passionate about your kids and I know you want to spend time with them.

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  5. Just stay there Jen. HeWhoCantBeMentioned is going to need you for the first two years. After that, you can do whatever you want!

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  6. Within the next two years you or Charlie may have the right opportunity come up, so don't sweat it. It sounds like a good decision to stay. Moving and being there w/in 5-6 weeks would be very stressful. Plus as jobs usually go they will probably still expect you to work more than 8 hours a day either at the office or carry it home. You were going to be closer to you family but not actually close though so there would still be a big drive. I didn't know that you would have to spend more on a house on the East Coast than California.

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  7. The kids look great and so happy. We are all on a Merry go round of sorts. Enjoy this time.
    MOM

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  8. I know you say you are waiting for a sign from God, but don't you think you got that already? In the BIGGEST of big ways, yet the tiniest of tiny ways.....maybe he wants you to hang out at home a little longer, then bigger and better things will be ready for you. Wishing you luck in your sign searching! ;)

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  9. Wow. Awesome Lindz!! Thank you so much for your support. You have an amazing way of articulating my thoughts exactly.

    "Whiny baby. Garbage to boss. Changed mind again. Lucky to still have a job."

    Well done!!!

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  10. Well, you made a decision. And everything will be fine. Regardless of whether it is the best one or not.
    Please make sure you keep us posted. :)

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  11. Heidi - you are so right. I am really caught up with how fast time is passing and how my children won't always be small. But on the flip side, I think about my parents.

    My dad who I haven't seen in almost two years and who has been in a living facility for the past year. I could just take a trip back and see him, but then I'd be leaving my husband home, alone, with several small children. And I don't see things get any easier in the future...

    Then there's my mom who, although I know she's independent and strong, will be going through her second knee replacement in the next few weeks - and I wish I was closer to just HELP.

    It's so difficult. My heart hurts almost as much as my head...

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  12. You probably won't publish my comment ;) but I have to agree with what you've decided...as CRAZY as it sounds, LOL.

    I just attended a conference this weekend about infant cognitive development, and baby just flat-out needs mama the first year of life, plain and simple. While I know Charlie will be fabulous about taking good care of him or her, seeing this tiny little thing that needs YOU more than anyone else in life for 2 hours a day? It breaks my heart to even think about it.

    You have a fabulous opportunity to stay where you are and make damn sure his/her VITAL first year a positive, comforting, low-stress one. And from what I know of you, the opportunities will be there in abundance in two years as well. Maybe not near your extended family, but you certainly won't be flipping burgers!

    Relax. Be confident in your decision and just don't think another thought about it.

    And can I tell you again that you're my hero? Every child deserves a mother like you.

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  13. I can really see why this decision is soooo difficult because both choices have many really positive sides to them. I have a hard time saying which I would choose, and it's not even my family, so I can only imagine the stress you are going through.

    I will say this though: I grew up away from my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins... just family in general. We maybe got to see them once a year. Now being a mom, and living in the same area as my parents, my sisters, my brother: and having all of that extra support and seeing my children have relationships with them.... I don't think you could force me to move away. I think the point that Jody made about being close to family is very relevant.

    In the first four years of our marriage, the hubs and I both worked full time, while I also went to school full time. While it stunk to be away from my little ones during that time, I have to say that the light in it all was that at least if I couldn't be with them, they were still with family: my mom and dad, my sisters. Everyone chipped in to help and I never had to do day care.

    That being said: having been able to be home with the kids full time for the last year..... I think I would pitch a screaming crying fit if I had to go back to work.

    See??? I have no real advice. Just hang in there. *HUGS*

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  14. I've just started following your blog. I've know of you as you used to frequent a board I was on but...I never followed until now. I have 3 kids under 4 and I can sort of relate to what you are going through.

    My husband has been in medical school/residency/fellowship for 11 years. 11. The time has come for him to get. a. job. We are so excited! He has opportunities in several cities. Not one of them is perfect. To me, we are in the perfect city (close to family and friends) but he would have to compromise on the job. After training so many years, he's not sure how much he wants to compromise. We are lucky to have options but this decision is taking up every free minute of our lives. It's exhausting. It's all we think about or talk about lately.

    I do know that once we make we cannot look back. We have to set up our lives and live in the moment---like you are talking about. So I get it. I'll keep following!

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  15. Maybe you could look at the job transfer as a means to get you closer to your family with the thought that eventually, you could switch roles with Charlie? Not that you would want to leave your new empoloyer any time soon. But you never know, Charlie may just get offered a shiny new job once/if you do relocate ;)

    Whatever you decide, best of luck!

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  16. There are no easy answers to tough questions.

    I have to say though, I think I would have to go. If you have never been in a situation of extreme instability, then you truly have no idea how consuming and awful those feelings of inadequacy can be.

    DH lost his position last September - through no fault of his. Being a government contractor meant no unemployment benefits either, no insurance, no retirement, nothing, nada, after almost 9 years (of promises) doing a job he loved and doing it with excellence. He fell victim to one person who abused his power and athority and got his shorts in a bunch.

    Now we find ourselves in default on our house. I am working 2 jobs. He finally found a part time job with ZERO benefits. We can barely make ends meet so not even close to catching up. Our kids had to change schools (they LOVED their old school). Our whole life is upside down and in limbo. We get food stamps and fuel assistance and medicaid which is humiliating and embarassing and something I never thought we would have to do - but we do what we have to for our chldren. We are in so deep I don't know how we will dig out. He is still desperately searching for full time which probably will require a relocation meaning either we lose our house totally, or a long seperation while we work in 2 different areas of the country because we don't have the funds to move. But we have each other and our children.

    I didn't mean to hijack your post with complaints, but I am just saying in these uncertain times, stability means everything. I just want you to put it all in perspective. Until you lose it, you don't realize the real value.

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  17. One of many cuzzins!5/3/10, 11:51 AM

    Aw Jen... you're exhausting me!!

    To be honest, I'm not at all surprised by your decision. I kept saying, I'll believe it when I see it!!

    You and Charlie have a wonderful life right there where you are. I have every confidence that your future career will remain stable. It may change a bit, but you two will always figure a way to manage your needs.

    You've got to go with the gut. Always go with the gut! And, believe that everything happens for a reason!

    Peace little 'cuz,
    Regina

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  18. If this is what feels right in your gut then, you can deal with whatever happens in the future. In two years a lot can change and obviously they value you as an employee otherwise these opportunities would not be coming your way.
    Also, this has been a decision you and Charlie are making together and as such you will deal with the good and the bad together as such.

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  19. It has to be nive to have choices. There are so many that don't. You will do that is right for your family. It is the inbetween that is so hard.

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  20. I'm with Leia.. I think you've already been giving an amazing sign from God. At the same time, I totally understand the difficulties you've been having making this decisions. It's a huge choice.

    P.S.- Feel free to whine. It is YOUR BLOG. Certain individuals can leave if they want. :)

    Marla @ www.asthefarmturns.wordpress.com

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  21. Oh Jen, your path seems so clear to me but then I'm on the outside looking in. Staying is the clear choice when all the circumstances are considered. You and Charlie are both highly marketable and I'm willing to bet your current employer will be magically able to find a new job for you in 2 years.

    Yes it's hard to be so far away from family, not being able to help when you feel you should but sometimes life is like that. They're only going to be small once you don't want to miss out on any of that joy. You didn't have these beautiful children not to spend time with them and help them develop into the wonderful people they will become.

    And look at the wonderful family you have created for yourselves here. Added bonus, Charlie's family and Sonoma County : )

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  22. Jen, We have lots of decisions to make in life some easy, some not. In my experience, there is never a right choice or a wrong choice. Whatever you choose will open up new vistas and opportunities. If you feel your career path needs following and you dare not chance resuming it at another job - go. If you feel the kids will still need your care and attention - stay. Whatever the path, it will work out as long as you have the love and support of each other. Do please bear in mind the job market and job search issues will be problematic but if you feel that you and Charlie can financially afford to "wing it" for abit....well, I think you'll have your answer. With love and best wishes no matter what...eat, love, pray....Mrs. D.

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  23. Wow.

    Leia said it best.

    I could not agree with her more.

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  24. My perspective comes from someone who has to work and whose work is outside the home. Actually, both my DH and I have to work and cannot work at home, by the nature of our jobs (bench scientist and vet). Our twin boys are the same age as your trips.
    While ideally, I would work part time, given our circumstances, I don't think working in an office is as horrible as you make it out to be. We've done things to mimimize the impact (we live close to work, I go to work early, he goes late etc..) Also, when I am home, I am home with the boys, not doing emails, not working on the computer, not cleaning up the house, but home with them. So while I will miss out on 4 hours a day when they are home and awake next year when they are in kindergarten, we still have wonderful times. They are vibrant boys who know their mommy loves them. Even this morning before I left for work at 7, I was able to get their breakfast and read them a book.

    If I were in your shoes, given the benefits that you have (and the benefits of moving), and the benefits that other companies are giving, I would go. For example, though I have been with the same company for 7.5 years, i still have the same vacation I started with, no 401K match, no pension etc.. Who's to say that your job will even be around in 2 more years? But, I am very conservative about money and would be uncomfortable if I didn't know how we were going to be buying food in a year or two or even 5.

    Being in the DC area sounds pretty cool, too...

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  25. i forgot to add that, at least for me, working in an office has not translated to lunch hours going to the gym. Instead, I eat lunch at my desk and am try to do as much work as I can so I can leave as early as possible.

    Also, my job success is measured in what I get done, not when I am at work.

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  26. I am SO happy for you and this next pregnancy. I am over the moon about it!
    From being in a period of major instability when my first child was born, to being in a second period where the threat of losing everything was too real and too close, (and drinking 2 bottles of wine a week until the period passed) I'm on Jo and Jody's side of the fence.(add to that I think VA is awesome! and I most certainly feel you can find a lovely place to live that you can afford) Even with me potentially having one more, it may be that I have to continue to work, but it is okay. I won't be at work forever.
    Very rarely has life turned out to be how I expected it to be or idealized it to be.

    You are so fortunate to have been able to stay home with your children as much as you have. I completely understand where you are coming from and your feelings toward the mon - fri work week. The economy is just really sucky right now. Many people are stuck where they are and can consider themselves lucky - even though 3 years ago they could have very easily gone for the bigger better deal.

    Which worst case scenario are you most comfortable with? and how long do you perceive this next phase of life to be?

    My prayers will be with you for the health of your baby and for you to find peace with your decision.

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  27. Just be careful when you ask for a skywriter and things like that. When I was a kid my mom's closest friend got a job offer. It would be going back to work after being a stay at home mom for years. SHe told my mom, "I wish I knew what to do. It would be so much easier if God would just put a 'YES' or 'NO' sign in my yard."

    Ironically we happened to be heading to a town just past where they lived right after they'd had this conversation. So, my mom couldn't resist. She made a big YES sign, stopped at their house, put the sign up, hide the car behind the barn, and waited for them to get home. Her friend's reaction was great. She was shocked and couldn't figure out who else she would have mentioned the "sign" thing to. Then out popped my mom and the rest of us. They laughed so hard!

    Sorry I had to tell it. Funny story. And she still worked at that job up until recently. She took it and it was a great fit for her and her family.

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