Saturday, October 25, 2008

state of the union

Yes, the call I made yesterday was real.

As was the call that my 15-month old son made, moments later to my boss. I was so engrossed babbling on to an air pocket that I wouldn't have even realized he had made a call, if not for Henry's fit of laughter that caught my attention, when he heard my boss talking on the other end of the line. And then I heard a familiar voice. Who I can only assume, heard me - babbling on to an air pocket.

So, um.

Now what?

I don't foresee anything happening immediately, but once I called Charlie at work, and he stopped saying, "Oh no you didn't. OH! NO! YOU! DIDN'T!!" he calmly observed, "Well. I suppose that might be considered pulling the trigger, huh?"

It feels really good that the "truth" is out.

I certainly don't want to be a full-time career woman and I don't want anyone to think that I ever will be a full-time career woman, while I have children at home. Not just small children mind you, but children. So long as I have children at home, my schedule must retain enough flexibility so that I can attend to them first and foremost.

Currently, Part-time is fine!

Part-time is fun!

Part-time allows for supplemental income that helps to offset the cost of living. Part-time is necessary for me to have a break. Especially since none of the children in this house like to sleep very much anymore and although I am their mother and I love them, I'm not insane and I know that staying with them every minute of every day will drive me insane. Rapidly.

But. If we are to move back to the east coast, the expectation is for me to work full-time. And since I'm not willing to do that - perhaps Charlie would be in a better position to accept the opportunity that might be offered to me. And by that point, the children will be a little older and the call of full-time school will be on the radar. So that's when I'll stay home and teach them and sell handmade goods and my blog will be wallpapered in ads.

Although Charlie enjoys being home with the children, he has it in his blood to be a professional. And for the past few years, his career has been on a yo-yo track. He works full-time, he's out to help me recover from birthing triplets. He works full-time while I'm on maternity leave, he returns to part-time so I can work, he's out almost full-time to assist with the triplets while I work full-time and gestate baby four. He's out to help me recover from birthing a singleton, he's full-time while I'm on maternity leave. He's part-time when I return to work.

I think what makes all of this so difficult for me is that I spent so many years working hard to obtain my academic degrees, professional registrations and earn a reputable position with the largest petroleum company in the world. To walk away from it all seems scary and slightly irresponsible. In this day and age, women are accomplishing (almost) everything that men accomplish in the work force. But unlike men, it is in a woman's DNA (and conscience) to raise her children and that is why making the choice of what to do once baby arrives can be absolutely grueling.

People have been asking me, why would we change anything?

Life is great!

But the fact is, every so often, it's important to pick your head up and look around. You must take an inventory of where you are in life. Is it necessary to slightly adjust your compass heading? Or, perhaps throw the compass on the floor smashing the glass and breaking the dial?

For the past several months, I've oscillated between pure contentment and pure panic. There has been a gnawing at my heart that sometime soon, we'll need to make a change. We'll need a larger house and more elbow room. We'll need to be closer to family. We'll need to make the decision to either send our children to school full time, or home school them ourselves.

Regardless of how great life is, I think it's good to shake things up every so often. Even if after you shake things up you feel the need to sit down and stick your head between your knees because suddenly all the blood in your body has drained to your feet.

My mother called me this morning to say that she was up all night last night thinking about our situation and she has determined that I am manic and need to be medicated.

That came as a real surprise because I was up all night thinking that this is the most clear thinking I've had in a long time. Especially now that I've shaved everyone's heads and we chant Hare Hare Krishna.


  1. I love your mother. I think I've said that before. She is a hoot.

    Okay, if your life was a novel, I would be frantically paging ahead to see how it ends.

    But if I could write just one chapter, 3 or 4 chapters down, I would title it, "Life In The Country".

    Can you imagine having a decent size home (not too big, mind you. You don't want to clean a McMansion) on a nice piece of land? Imagine when you lock the kids out, they run off in the woods to climb trees and play in streams. Imagine letting them ride their bikes and hang out with neighborhood kids. Imagine a school district, where should you choose to send them, everyone still speaks English because they can. Imagine getting fresh produce and meat from your neighbor. Imagine a place where families are still the center of everyone's lives and not how chiseled their bodies can look or when their next plastic surgery appointment is. Imagine it.

    You guys should do it! Maybe I'll join you and we can take turns homeschooling so we don't have to kill the kids because we are with them all the time.

    Or you can forget all that and get some medication like your mother suggests. :)

  2. I've been biting my nails, wondering how you're doing. And now that I've read your update, I still don't know what to say. I think you process life at least five times faster than I do! I guess you have to to keep up with your family! I hope to write more later!

  3. I agree that it is so important to look up and assess every now and then. I think it's great that you are doing that, and whatever you decide at least you know you were taking stock and trying to do what was best.

    And if you move to Northern VA, you have to let me know! Hopefully you and the family will make it to one of our DC Area get togethers. :-)

  4. Please do not get caught in the idyllic myth of 19th century homeschooling. I know that you are in the 99th percentile for intelligence, but creating lesson plans for your children in all subjects and teaching them how to function in modern society is simply impossible.

    Schools are able to leverage the professional experience and training of many different teachers, and the resources they have now will surprise you.

    Part of growing up is learning how to function with others beyond the family structure. Also, it will drive you certifiably nuts to be with them 24/7. You need to nourish your soul and replenish your intellectual strength.

    Finally, do you know any adults who were home schooled? Do you know any children who are being homeschooled, unless they are religious fundamentalists?

    What do you hope to gain by home schooling? Do you wish you had been home schooled? Does Charlie?

    Thanks for listening. A dear friend.

  5. I have been thinking about you all day. As to your anonymous poster that said homeschooling doesn't work - they obviously have not done their research. I know several adults that were homeschooled and have decent careers now. My sister-in-law is a DNA specialist for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Dept. My other sister-in-law served in the US Army for a number of years. My son is now serving our country in the US Army. All of these people were homeschooled. If anything homeschooling gives you more advantages to learning. Just last week, we took our 10 year old and 4 year old from SC to OK to see their brother graduate boot camp. Along the way, we visited some natural caverns, the Ozark Folk Center, a science museum in Oklahoma City, a wildlife refuge in OK, and a military base. My daughter is studying pioneers at the moment and got to watch 24 artisans do pioneer work at the Folk Center. If she were in traditional school, the school would have balked at her "missing" 7 days of school. I am amazed at all she saw and all she learned along the way going through 7 states. Also, many people do not homeschool for just religious reasons. Actually, more and more people do this for academic reasons. Where else can you create a curriculum that meets an individual child's needs? I will get off my soapbox. I am NOT saying homeschooling is for everyone. I am just saying that your anonymous poster needs to do some research. I am praying for you and hope you find peace with whatever decisions you make. God bless you!

  6. I keep 'seeing' over and over again your angst. I truly think your gut is trying to tell you to stay home with your children.

    Of course, they will drive you bonkers, but all kids drive their parents bonkers anyway. They are LITTLE even though they seem so big already.

    You could go back to work part-time when they have a longer school day if/when you send them to school.

  7. Wow! That's great!

    As I was reading your past post I also read a few comments - one in particular - really struck me. It was from Kari C from SC. She left a comment that hit home on your blog "desperately searching for balance".

    As I was reading it I thought of my oldest son James. Although I was very protective of him and expected a lot out of him, due to circumstances beyond my control I missed some valued time with him.

    I remember when we were expecting Alexander, James asked me not to go back to work. He was 11 at the time and wanted me home not only for the baby but for him. It was a powerful conversation with deep thought. I believe at that moment James needed me more than ever and I have never regretted our decision.

    James was the one that encouraged me to begin homeschooling his younger brothers. I was reluctant for a while and don't know how long we will continue. At times its tough but the majority of time it's worth the sacrifice.

    Especially when my 19 year old son out of love and respect comes home from college, smiles, gives me a great big hug and reassures me that we are doing a good job with his siblings. "Almost" as good as I did with him.'s so very important.

    I'm proud of you. Love, Marg

  8. Before you quit, please read The Feminine Mistake by Leslie Bennetts. It might just change your mind.

  9. Are the triplets starting indergarten next year already? No wonder you're thinking about all of this!

  10. Don't forget about the weather report I sent you!
    Virginia = Rain and/or snow
    California = Sun

  11. Think about waiting another year before kindergarten. Most people are waiting longer these days. I would definitely look for a school, close by, that fits your needs and just supplement with other work that you think is important at home. There are a lot of successful homeschoolers now but I still think school is important esp for unique socialization value. I totally respect that you're staying home and working part time. Way to go!! We need more women like you who are not brainwashed and not willing to sell their kids out to glorified day care (which I consider being in preschool over 4 hrs a day under the age of 5) unless necessary due to circumstances. At the end of the day you can say you actually raised your own kids!

  12. I am proud of you and think you are thinking clearly. For what that's worth. :) Also, in the grand scheme of things, the time you have to actually be the number one person and influence in your kids' life is small. You will still have years and years once they are grown to pursue your own interests and expand your career. You can do everything. It just doesn't happen to have to all be right now. Prioritize, enjoy. Take up hobbies and interests to keep your brain from going to mush, but there is nothing more important or more fullfilling you can do right now than raise your kids. And if Charlie can take the chance to be full-time preofessional, give it to him. I think it will be fabulous for your family. I really do.

  13. Oh, and I will be back in Virginia in a couple years, too. Get together?

  14. Your mom cracks me up. I am glad you posted today, if your count went up it was from me checking to see if you posted. I just couldn't figure out if you had really made the calls or if you were thinking of making the calls.
    As I think about all of your previous post I remember how much you enjoy your children and love to be with them and how much you love to work pt. I think you absolutely have made the right decision to work pt for now. I also stayed home with our children until they were all in school. I struggled with the idea of homeschooling and decided against it. There were two grades between each of my three children and I did not have enough confidence in my ability to do homeschooling justice. With that said I then went to work as a TA in first grade. I worked for five yrs and then decided to come home and be a ft mom even though my children were in school. I was the mom that could always go on field trips, volunteer, help with special projects...
    Being in the school so much made me realize that I had made the right decision, for me. Whatever you decide about homeschooling go with your heart. Do your research, see what is involved and weigh you options and I have no doubt that you will make the right decision. Whatever you do don't let what others do influence you. While teaching and volunteering I saw a lot. Some of the saddest things I saw was when parents decided after "trying" to homeschool they put their child back in school. That was normally the idealistic parents that only saw "roses" and didn't see the thorns. That being said I have also seen homeschooled children that are very well adjusted and brilliant too. It has to be a personal decision for each family. I know that you know all of that but I feel better "saying" it.
    And for Geologychick's weather report, I can't wait:) Same weather report for me and it is wonderful. That also has to be a personal decision but for me I would have it no other way. I love living each season. Hubby and I got firewood yesterday, just love those crackling fires. I could go on and on about the advantages of living here but I will save that for another time;)

  15. I'm just - speechless. You need to do what's right for you. I wish I could find a way to not work. Desperately. Because, like you, before kids, my career was my passion, but now? My children are my passion, and nothing is going to change that.

    I think your priorities are exactly where they should be. Your mother cracks me up, but my guess is your thinking is very clear right now (though I suspect your husband wishes you'd talked with him about it before you'd made that phone call!)

    I will say, though, there are a lot of VA-area triplet moms who would be SO excited to have you move out here!

  16. Jen
    That is wonderful, you are really something. You really are a first class Mom. I am so pleased, you can work anytime anywhere, but you can never replace the time spent with your kids. As for home school, I'll tell you, it is just wonderful. One on one and these kids are like seives, there all not religious freaks, some people feel they can do a better job, and from what I see, they have very nice responsible kids. The schools in SC are terrible and not much better in other parts of the country. Keep em home! Aunt Grace

  17. To Anon: I am thinking of homeschooling and for the record, I am not religious AT ALL. I only go to church for weddings and funerals. So how's that for a myth buster?

    I want to homeschool because our schools suck where I live. We have the lowest graduation rates in the nation. Will I? I don't know yet. But it won't be because I've got a school bus buried in the backyard and a Bible under my pillow.

  18. There are many advantages to homeschool; but there are many advantages to public (or private) school as well. Neither has MORE advantages; they just have different advantages.

    Do not let the fact that you have a degree and have done so well professionally hinder you from following your heart if it says to stay home. Your degree and expertise will always serve as an advantage to you. It's there if/when you want to return to work. It's there if, God forbid, a tragedy happened and you HAVE to work full time. I have a college degree and am a stay-at-home-mom but tell my kids that college a college education is never wasted.

    It sounds like your heart is telling you to stay home right now. Again, if that means you have to give up Montessori school, in the long run, is that really a tragedy? I mean, my kids didn't go to Montessori and each of them is a genius.

    Oh, I'm kidding people.

  19. I wish I could find a way to work out of my home. I thoroughly enjoy what I do, but would love to do it on a much smaller scale.

    Your kids are only young once and school will come along at a rapid pace freeing up your time to persue a full time something or you know giving you free time to make candles and quilts to sell on the side of the freeway. ;)

  20. Michelle M in TX10/27/08, 2:13 PM

    I lived in Roanoke, VA. It has the most lovely small-town feel to it and tons of hiking, a thriving downtown area, and just gorgeous older homes with tons of character. I don't know where you'll have to end up in VA, but if you can manage to end up in Roanoke, you won't be sorry. :)

    Best on your decisions,
    Michelle M in TX (formerly San D.)