Monday, April 20, 2015

It's All Coming Together

When I first started looking at jobs in the U.S., the idea of moving back seemed overwhelming to me.   After all, my the company I am currently working for provides a tremendous amount of support when we are working overseas.  They are very, very good to us--they help with finding (and paying for!) schools, housing, and even spousal employment (well, admittedly that last bit is hit or miss--but it's something!).  For the jobs I was looking at in the U.S., however, we knew we would be totally on our own.  And although it seems obvious to anyone who has transferred jobs without the amazing support my company has provided to us in the last few years, that meant finding:  a) housing for ourselves; b) schools for the kids; c) a job for T; d) taking a pay cut (overseas jobs in my field typically pay way better, especially if you are willing to live somewhere that is a bit challenging); e) selling our car (which I LOVE), and f) moving our mountain of crap prized possessions back to the States.  I couldn't imagine how we'd accomplish all of that.

And yet, here we are.  We have rented a house back in the U.S..  The kids have been accepted into (the same! Spanish-English bilingual!) school.  T has been offered a job.  With T's job, the pay cut isn't nearly as terrifying as it was when I first thought about it.  We have accepted an offer on our car for about $4,000-$5,000 more than it's U.S. value (I will miss it, but the extra cash will fit in nicely for our plan to buy something that seats 7-8).  The movers are booked for two weeks from now.

The weird part is that I'm more stressed out now than I was when we were just starting to try to arrange everything.  T keeps looking at me like I have four heads, and can't understand why I am not more relaxed.  But I am not.  Now that we are so close, and have so little time to sort out any bumps in the road, I find that I am MORE stressed out, because I am so worried that some piece of things is going to fall apart.  Like, we meet with the owner of the house this week when we head back to sort out some things. . .what if the house is really a dump, or the lease falls apart for some reason?  What if Miss M doesn't pass her entrance exam at the school?  What if T's offer is withdrawn (his request for a higher salary is still pending, and I'm paranoid they are just going to say "this guy is too much trouble," even though some small part of my brain does recognize that negotiating salary is pretty ordinary)?  Was the car deal good enough?  Did we cave too soon?  Will I have the donations weeded out in time for the movers?  Will they break something?  Will they steal something (cherished pewter Christmas tree ornaments, of all things, went missing during our last move)?  And so on, and so on.

I know it is a little crazy.  Plus, although I have two of my three final big projects done at work, I still have one massive one to complete, and I'm worried about it.  I set the bar really high for myself on this one, and I'm not going to be able to deliver what I was hoping to deliver.  I think everyone will be fine with that (I'M the one who set the bar high, and I acknowledged from the beginning that I might not be able to deliver what I was hoping to deliver), but I'm still worried about that.

And we have this trip this week, which will be an action-packed race to set everything up for a month from now, when we move back.  We have crazy connections in both directions because we used frequent flier miles, and SB is going through a screaming phase, and. . .yeah, I'm not looking forward to this trip.

But it IS coming together.  Really it is.  I need to just breathe.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

On Babies, and Men

I have three different friends who are pregnant with their third child right now.  One has always wanted a big family and was planning #3 almost as soon as #1 was born; the second really wanted a boy (after two girls); and I'm not exactly sure about the third, although I knew she was trying for another.  Part of me says "awwww, a BABY!", but most of me says "hell no!"  I am so happy with our family size, and really with our life.  I feel so blessed.

Friend #1 is grumpy and uncomfortable, now nearing the end of her pregnancy.  I've been trying to send her encouraging thoughts to get her through these final weeks, but I totally feel for how uncomfortable she is.  This third one has been hard on her physically, and she's had more trouble than with her first two.  Friend #2 is also nearing the end of her pregnancy, and she is literally radiant and gorgeous and happy.  I saw her a few nights ago for dinner, and she both looked great and appeared to be in a really great place.  And Friend #3?  She's halfway through her pregnancy and finds out the gender of her baby next week. . .and her husband just told her he wanted a divorce.

I know that there is never a good way to end a relationship, especially a long one that involves small children.  But. . .some ways are less terrible than others.  It is actually possible to have a little grace and compassion for someone that you once loved, even if you don't love them any more.  Unfortunately, at every turn, my third friend's husband has behaved in the most terrible way possible.  And here she is, on top of everything he has said and done to her, pregnant and unemployed, with two small children.  I am so devastated for her.

She should have a few more months to be grumpy and uncomfortable, but eagerly awaiting her new arrival.  Or she should have a few more months of radiant, beautiful anticipation.  She shouldn't, under any circumstances, be facing a sad, anxious, unexpected and very uncertain future, all because her husband failed to be honest with her months ago.  I hope hell has a special place for a man who intentionally fathers a child that he knows he's going to walk out on.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Projects and Potty Training and Job Offer, Oh My!

I finished one project today, and I have another one that I absolutely have to finish tonight.  I'm writing something, and I only have a page to do it in, but I must touch upon a million points and make really good use of the space I have, and it's incredibly complicated.  But I can do that, right?  It's just a page!  I'm exhausted from not sleeping from worrying so much, though, which isn't ideal headspace for writing something that requires high focus.  Ugh.  But I really HAVE to finish it tonight.

It definitely made me de-stress to get one project out of the way.  And, we got some more good, good news yesterday:  T indeed got the job offer he was hoping for.  The salary was not quite as good as I was hoping (he is not surprised by the offer, so he is happier than I am).  He is currently negotiating for a slightly higher salary--fingers crossed that they hear what he is saying and agree that he is worth a bit more.  He'd like about 15% more than they are offering, so it is not an unsubstantial amount of money.   He has worked in his field for literally decades, so he is definitely worth every penny.  But, he also hasn't worked in 5 years, so I totally get why they would offer him less.  Regardless of the salary, it's a great job and it's in his field, so he is really very excited, and I am so very happy to see him happy.

SB continues to make good progress on potty training.  She has not had a single accident at school, and hasn't been having accidents at home, either.  Well, except for yesterday, when she fell asleep on the sofa while wearing underwear, and peed in her sleep.  She apologized to me when I got home from work, which I thought was both sad and sweet.  Poor kid--she was so bummed about it.  But as I told her, accidents happen.  And pee washes out of upholstery. . .mostly.

Okay, enough procrastinating, and back to my project.

Monday, April 13, 2015

#MicroblogMonday: Anxiety

I know that I am stressed out, because it's 12:35 am here, and I am wide awake, yet exhausted.  I can't get my mind to shut off.  I haven't felt this way in years.  In my old job, I was constantly so stressed out that I had what I called "middle of the night insomnia":  if awakened by anything, I couldn't fall back asleep.  After I left the job, I started sleeping, and I realized the problem was external.

So, hello my old friend, anxiety.  I know exactly why I am awake.  I have three projects at work that are pressing down on me, squeezing the air out of the room.  I just need to finish them.  I need to stop letting the great be the enemy of the good.  So I can sleep again, if nothing else.

How do you calm down and sleep when your mind won't stop?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Forks in the Road

As the kids sat and played on the family room floor last night, I sat with my laptop on the couch making our vacation plans, looking to see which beaches are closest to Orlando and also good for families.  It reminded me of a time when T and I seriously considered moving to Florida, and that led me to thinking about all of the big forks in the road in my life.

When we were contemplating the possible Florida move ("the weather's great, we love to vacation there, why not move?!" we said), I applied for a pile of jobs, and flew down when I landed a job interview.  It went well, and T had passed the time sitting in a thatched-roof beach bar in a marina where you could live aboard your boat.  He was all for the move.  But we hadn't talked about salary during the interview, and this was before so much was available via internet, so I had no real sense of the possible salary range.  When they called me to offer me the job, the salary they offered was so jaw-droopingly low that I would have been unable to pay my student loans.  In the end, despite T's dream of living on a boat next to a thatched roof beach bar ("but you can walk to work!" he argued), we decided it was too much of a financial gamble, and I declined the job.  The rental sheet from the marina was posted on our refrigerator for well over a year.  I think it was particularly hard for T to give up on that dream.  I would have loved the job (it was public sector and serving a low income population), but I also think it would have been very difficult financially, and I never regretted declining the job.

At around the same time, I interviewed for another job in western Massachusetts.  It was also a public sector job serving a low income population.  I would have loved it.  It was the perfect job for an idealistic kid right out of grad school, which is exactly what I was at the time.  It was work that I could both be passionate about, and which I could be proud of and feel good about.  But again, the money held me back.  The starting salary was abysmal.  It would have been less of a gamble, because we were living in Boston at the time, and it wouldn't have been as big of a move.  They so badly wanted me to accept the job that they called me back a second time after I declined it, hoping to persuade me to take it.  I have always regretted that I didn't take the job.

I ended up looking for a job for months.  It was miserable being out of work, watching all of my grad school friends bond over their new jobs and new experiences, while I was sitting home and mailing out resumes all day (MAILING!  How very 1990's!).   Ultimately, after many months of nothing, I was offered a job that paid about $15,000 more than those other jobs I had turned down.  It was a miserable job and I hated going to work every day.  Professionally, it was probably good experience, as I got to do a lot of different things, and it gave me time to figure out what I liked, what I didn't, and what I was good at, so in that sense I am grateful that I had that experience.  We lived in a gorgeous apartment during that time period, a converted factory with soaring ceilings and giant windows and exposed brick.  I would lay in bed in the morning and stare up at our beautiful wooden ceilings and think that I didn't even want to put my feet on the floor.  

I lasted two years in that terrible job, and then I lucked into a job that I LOVED and worked at for almost a decade.  THAT job defined my adult life in many ways.  So much of my sense of self comes from that job, which I worked at from my late 20's to my late 30's.  It's where I grew up.  It was 80 hour weeks, extreme highs, extreme lows, but a mission I cared about deeply and work that I am still immensely proud of.

And then there is what I am doing now.  I am not passionate about all of it.  I am passionate about pieces of it.  I like it well enough, and it pays well enough, and it has been good for us for the last few years.  I can see the potential to be doing work all of the time that I am really passionate about, which is why I think I am still doing it.  I'm basically putting my time in and working toward that point, because I recognize that everyone has to pay their dues.

But as I was perusing job listings recently, ostensibly for T, I ran across some listing for jobs that were similar to my last job, the one I worked at for 9 years, and I felt a longing to do that kind of work again.  I miss the highs, the thrill of being really good at something, the passion I felt for the work.  I was so burned out that I needed to leave the field, but I confess that it increasingly beckons.

The challenge, I suppose, is balancing the passion and 80 hour workweeks with raising a family.  I know that I don't know how to do that.  I am not sure I can be anything but all-in at home AND at work.  I can't see how I could manage my old job and my family.  But looking back, the only regrets I've felt were over taking jobs that I didn't love, and right now, I am only lukewarm on what I am doing.

Which is not at all where I meant to end up.  I meant to say that I like to think that no matter which choice I'd made when the fork appeared with any of these jobs, that I would have ended up in this same place, with these children playing at my feet.  Happy, content.  But as I was writing, a whole other thing came up.  And this is why I love blogging.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Goodish and Great

First, the goodish:  we THINK T will get offered the job.  They basically told him that he had the job, without actually offering it to him.  They said it will be a few weeks before they let him know.  It's a bit frustrating that they didn't make him an offer on the spot, but they apparently have to work through some bureaucracy and can't do that.  So, I'm continuing to cross my fingers and hope, wish, and pray that he gets it.  He is really excited about the job, and it's a really good fit with his experience.

And now the great:  SB is potty trained.  Like, completely potty trained.  We had two days of accidents and then. . .she totally and completely got it.  She's been going to school in underwear and has not had one accident.  She still sleeps in pull-ups, because I'm less sure about that part, but she has been waking up dry all of a sudden (which was not happening a week ago--she was waking up soaked every morning).  She is super proud of herself, and we are super proud of her.

We also have a departure date from this country, and are counting down the days.  We decided to make a stopover in Florida for a week on our way back.  As much as we can't wait to visit with our families, family visits are also distinctly different from vacation, and T and I both really want some family vacation time with the kids.  So, we booked a condo at the same resort we stayed at last year.  We are going to just do one day of Disney this time, and then spend most of our time doing crafts at the complex and playing in the awesome pools there and basically just hanging out.  And maybe drive to the beach for a day.

To be honest, we hemmed and hawed about whether we should take this vacation.  It's a time of transition, as we move back to the U.S., and there is already so much going on.  And every time you move, you invariably spend a pile of cash, and it seems imprudent to spend money on vacation at a time when we are spending cash on a thousand other things.  But on the other hand, when you are flying back to the northeast from Latin America, it's generally most convenient to connect in Florida, and we discovered that it wouldn't cost us anything extra to stop over for a few days, so it was really just the price of the condo, which was fairly reasonable.  And, we haven't had a vacation since last year.  And, if T gets this job, it will be a while before we take some time off, because both of us will be starting in new jobs and we'll both be getting settled.  And in the end, it was too appealing to pass up.

Monday, April 6, 2015

#MicroblogMonday: Fingers Crossed

T felt like he had a pretty good telephone interview for the job on Friday.  It's in his field, it sounds really cool, and it felt like a good fit.  He had offered to fly back to interview, but they said it wasn't necessary.  They also told him there was only on round of interviews (last week), and that they would be selecting a candidate this week.

This morning, they got in touch with him, said they felt like the interview had gone well, and asked him to fly back for a second interview.  He's flying tomorrow morning, and interviewing on Wednesday.  I am hoping, wishing, praying that this is because he is the leading candidate, and they just want to meet him in person to make sure he doesn't have four heads.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

My Mind Was Playing Tricks on Me

After I wrote my last post, I went back through my last posts about potty training Miss M.  I'm not sure why, but in my memory, Miss M never had pooping accidents when she was potty training, and as far as I was concerned, she potty trained at about 3 years 3 months.  It's a good thing I blog, because as SB would say "That's not truuu-uuue!"  Miss M was three and a half (holy god, what was I thinking?!), and she had lots of accidents--it's just that we were at the beach then, so it was not a big deal.  One of my own lines really spoke to me, though. . .I wrote that Miss M needed to be able to have a lot of accidents to learn to use the potty, and I had not given her the space to do that.

I had forgotten that part.

And I was doing it again with SB. . .expecting that she would learn to use the bathroom without having accidents.  Which is completely and totally nuts.  Thank god I listened to myself.  :)

So for the last few days, SB has been in underwear, and practicing.  It's rainy season again, so it's lousy out, anyway.  I had four days off from work.  We've had nothing but inside time on our hands.  She had a ton of pee accidents at first, and one more poop accident, and then. . .she seemed to get it.  We went to the mall yesterday for about 4 hours (indoor playspace, dinner, then ice cream), in underwear, with no accidents.  She's used the potty every time today without accidents.  I'm sure there are more accidents in our future, but we are getting there.

In other news, we are going back to the U.S. for a week at the end of April.  Miss M will do the interview she needs to do for school, and assuming that all goes well, we'll enroll the kids in school.  I've mostly decided that we are going to register at the school that where both have been accepted, and be done with it.  One, I've decided I am not going to worry about the racial composition of the school.  They are too young, and unless and until it becomes an issue, I just don't think it's worthy of worry.  Two, I think the school is really solid.  That's the feedback I have gotten so far.  As long as the commute isn't completely nuts (I think it will be 20 minutes in the car or 35 on public transportation, and another 20-30 to work, which isn't great but isn't horrible), and the facilities and teachers seem solid, this option makes the most sense.  We have too many other things up in the air with the move, and I can't also be planning around possibilities.  That said, I may feel differently if the phone rings and it's our top, top choice.  But I'm going to move forward like the phone is not going to ring, and put it out of my mind.

We're going to stay at the house we've rented, which will be the first time we'll see it.  We rented it sight unseen, so it will be our first chance to see what needs to be cleaned/fixed/painted, and we will be able to start to plan for the rest of the things that need to be done in connection with our move in, including sorting out furniture, etc.

We're also going to try to go and visit my mom for a few days while we are back, so it's going to be an action-packed weekend.  She hasn't seen the kids in almost a year, so it will be nice to visit with her.  It's about a three hour drive or so from the city we're moving to, so it definitely adds to our chaos, but since we will not yet be settled in the house, it just makes more sense.  Plus I found an unbelievably inexpensive rental car.

And then we will head back here for a few weeks, and then we'll be heading back to the U.S. at the end of May.  The next few months are going to be a whirlwind.

T also interviewed for a really great job yesterday via phone.  Fingers, toes, and everything else crossed that he gets it.  It is EXACTLY what he wants to do, so he is really excited about it.  After staying home for 4 years, and then taking a job outside his field just to get out of the house, it would be so fantastic if he got a job that he loved in his field.  I am praying it works out.