Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Decided are Calm

A few months ago, our minister gave a sermon at church wherein he said that so often, people will hurry about their lives in a crazed rush. They can't seem to make up their minds about anything and in the process - they create a tremendous amount of stress for themselves and those around them. Every decision, whether big or small, will create chaos in the lives of the undecided, and this chaos manifests itself in every aspect of their existence.

Like so many sermons I've heard from this minister before, I honestly felt like he was talking directly to me.

These days, I'm not sure what is pumping through my veins.

Maybe it's the weather...

Maybe it's the pregnancy...

Maybe it's the insane amounts of peanut butter I've been eating...

Maybe it's life with three 2-year olds...

Or, maybe it's just that time in life when I feel the winds of change starting to howl gently blow.

As some quick history: I moved from South Carolina to California in 1991. My *plan* was to spend one semester in California as an exchange student before transferring to the University of Idaho and finishing my degree in geology. During my one semester in California, I met Charlie, fell madly in love, and quickly canceled my plans to move north. It's a long running joke that I was suppose to stay in California for half a year. That was 16 years ago.

At the moment, I feel the overwhelming need for something different. As much as I would like to be ... I am most definitely not decided. Which means, I am not calm and my mind is buzzing like a beehive with what we are going to do. Rather than going to bed at a decent hour and getting 8+ hours of sleep, I am staying up until the wee hours of the morning contemplating every possible angle for our next step in life.

I feel fairly confident that although we could remain in our house for the next couple of years ... I do not want to live in a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom bungaloo ... with three growing children and one more on the way ... for much longer.

It's not that I can't.

It's that I don't want to.

I want elbow room. I want for our kids to have places where they can retreat and have some privacy ... or at least, a little bit of quiet. I don't want to have our playroom be our family room be our guest room. As they grow older, I don't want for our four children to share a tiny bathroom.

Yes, I know it has been done before.

Infact, I know people have survived with a lot less. Like my mother: the youngest of nine children that grew up in a three bedroom, one bathroom apartment - above a convenience store during the Depression - in Dorchester, Massachusetts. My mother's family didn't have a washing machine ... a dishwasher ... or a microwave. They didn't have a car. Or an ice maker. Or a garbage disposal. Or a vacuum. Or Easy Mac. Or, a bundle of other conveniences that enable me to get out of bed every morning.

But, that's not how it has to be - and that's not how I want it to be. I want to have a house that is not surrounded by thousands of other houses - that looks just like our house. I don't want two hours of traffic, as opposed to 25 minutes, on my way home from the mall - because I chose the WRONG time to head south on the 805. Even though the weather is fantastic in San Diego ... I don't want to spend a million dollars or more, on a larger house that I could buy in any other part of the country for a fraction of the cost.

It's not that I don't want to.

It's that I can't.

Any way you dice it - I absolutely cannot justify Charlie and I throwing ourselves entirely in to our careers so that we can afford an Uber-mortgage (not to mention, Uber-property tax payment) that will inevitably, severly limit the time we spend with our precious children during the day. Maybe we would feel differently if we had the support of our family close by, but we don't. And as such - I'm sorry, beautiful sunny Southern California. You're just not worth the sacrifice.

This week, while I am away at my business meeting, I have spent a large portion of time boring talking with my co-workers about what the future holds for our family. These discussions have created a great deal of comic relief. Literally one minute - I'm telling my colleagues that we are going to pack up and relocate the entire family to Montana ... and the next minute - we are moving back to Massachusetts to live with my 75-year old father for moral support as he finalizes his divorce.

Ten minutes later, we have sold off our house, invested the majority of equity in the stock market ... and with a frugal budget, will be taking several months to travel around the world with our three toddlers and unborn (or maybe newborn?) child. We will complete our travels just as my maternity leave is about to end, and we will then decide, where we want to ultimately settle down.

One thing I don't know is what kind of jobs we'll have. I think the fact that at almost 5-months pregnant with 2-year old triplets, I'm openly telling my boss that I'm planning to pack the entire family up and move to Durango, Colorado ... or perhaps Bar Harbor, Maine ... where Charlie and I will sell hemp clothing, chai tea and imported incense, is sending him in to a partial tailspin. I won't be the least bit surprised if he hands me a cup tomorrow morning with instructions on how to fast for drug testing.

One thing I do know is that the next house we buy is a house that I would like to remain in until our children are grown. But, I have absolutely no idea where that house will be - and that is a critically important decision.

Will it be in northern California close to Charlie's family??

Will it be in New England close to my family??

Will it be in the southeast close to my mother??

Will it be in the mountains of Colorado or Montana??

Or - will we decide to replace our nasty carpet with hardwood floors and stay where we are??

Maybe we will remain status quo. Maybe we will move and keep our jobs. Maybe we will sell off everything, move to another part of the country and have a new start. It's exciting. But, it's also nerve wracking to seriously consider giving up the familiar and the security of what we have, in hand.

The most important thing is that we have each other. We have our health. We have an incredible sense of adventure. We have faith that when it happens - it will work out according to plan.

I hope.


And, now for some things I HAVE decided:

After the wonderful advice I received yesterday, I called Charlie to let him know that I think the best approach to dealing with the kid's uncontrollable crying episode at the Mexican restaurant - is to go back and try, try again. So, while I'm out of town at my business meeting - I've tasked Charlie with the important responsibility of teaching our toddlers etiquette. It's a rainy week here in Southern California, so it's not like he can spend a lot of time outside. Besides, this will save him from having to cook and clean. Am I the only one that thinks it's truly beautiful how I can provide my husband with suggestions and moral support, from afar?

For those of you lovely people that cast your vote(s) and were responsible for me being graced with the distinction of Crazy Hip Blog Mamas "Member of the Week" ... I'm honored. You rock the kasbah!! :)


  1. The SOUTHEAST is calling you home! Plus I know a great real estate agent......wonder who that could be?

    Knowing you though, you won't be able to leave CA as much as your family and friends would love to see you back in the SC area.....remember we do have beaches, mountains, zoos, Carowinds, sun, sand, warm weather, (except for our little snow/ice gone tomorrow though), etc. And who could resist all those who would help you out with those adorable triplets.........Kyle needs some more playmates!

    Whatever you decide, I am positive you will always do what is best for your family's well's to you....the best triplet mom (and friend) ever.

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  3. No sales pitch here - I'm delurking (love your blog) to invite you to move to Chicago! Property values here are excellent, schools are excellent, and a lot of the nearby suburbs are surprisingly non-cookie-cutter.

    That way, you could be between his family and yours. :)

  4. Jenna-
    Isn't it "Stop the Catbox..." not "Rock the Casbah..."
    Gotta love Cingular!
    I absolutely hate that commercial LOL! ...why am I writing this? I should be pressuring you into staying put here in Cali!!!

  5. Thank you for this post. I have been thinking a lot lately about our house and how I want something different for us as well. However, my husband is facing some big career changes right now trying to decide if he should go back to being a pilot (he has been furlouged for 5.5 years from NWA) or stay in the business world. He would take a big pay cut (1/3) at first going back due to the pay cuts that pilots have gone through but he would be doing what he loves. However, going back would mean that there would be no move for us in the near future and a very unpredictible schedule for his flying. Yikes. These life decisions are exciting but at the same time hard and draining. I wish you luck in your big decision. We live in MN and I love it here but since the high tomorrow is only -3 you would probably laugh at me if I recommend you move here! :O)

  6. lefnThank you for this post. I have been decidedly "uncalm" lately regarding some areas in my life. Reaching a sense of certainty would be a great relief.

    Whatever you decide regarding your major life choices, you will not regret, for one moment, the time you spend with your children now.
    I stayed home for 15 years and that put us a few years behind our peers when it came to the new house and anything but the most modest of cars. But it has been so worth it. When we finally built our house 5 years ago, we felt especially thrilled because we felt we had waited and accomplished it in a way that was right FOR OUR FAMILY - notice I said "for our family", because this is not in any way intended to be disparaging to mothers who work full time outside the home.
    When I put Kayla on the school bus for the first time 7 years ago I remember very clearly what I whispered to myself "Thank God I had these five years at home with her."
    My aunt always says to be specific in your prayers, and God will be specific in His answers. You'll know when the answers come. The hard part is waiting, huh?

  7. Jen, What about building UP? You can stay where you are, work where you do and enjoy the beautiful weather.
    I know it is hard waiting to see where the wind will carry you next. We have been wanting to move since before the babies were born and still are undecided where we would like to go.
    So right now, we are just holding on to the hope that when the good Lord figures out a plan for us, we will know where we are MEANT to go.

  8. If you move back to New England I'd love to meet you and the amazing trips!

  9. OK, I tried to comment earlier today, but it's not showing up... hopefully this works! Just wanted to say that I know it can be frustrating to have an idea of what you want, but be unable to figure it out. Being a New Englander myself, if you move to Bar Harbor and opened a store, I'd come by for some chai tea! :)

  10. Glad to know I'm not the only one feeling this way. A year ago, I was following my parents to the place they retire to in the middle of the beautiful Canadian Rockies and now with the property prices here rivaling that of SoCal, if I leave and I hate it, I can't afford to come back. But, I need change... and I've already redecorated.

  11. I just wanted to tell you that you sound so similar to what has been going through our heads here. Up until October, I had a great job that allowed me to work from home and homeschool our children. Then some corporate person decided my job wasn't all that important. I was offered another position, but it meant full-time in the office. My husband and I decided that wasn't for us and we have spent the last few months getting our Florida home ready for sale. We will be off to South Carolina - the Lexington area. We will be able to buy a house with cash there from the profits of our way overprices Florida home. It is a tough and scary decision, but I really do think it will be for the best. I will add you to my prayers that you find your way. BTW, I have been reading for awhile and wondered what you and your dh do for a living? It sounds interesting and crazy all at the same time! Just one more thing I love about your blog!