Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Path Forward

The school move seems to be everything we've been needing for many months, and possibly all school year.  SB continues to be a completely different person--happy and confident.  She likes school.  She has fun.  Her behavior at home is a complete 180 from her behavior when she was in her old school.  She has been my fantastic little ray of sunshine again.  Everything, finally, is working.

I am hoping, praying that somehow we can come up with a way to pay for the school for next year, if indeed we remain in this city (more on that in a moment).  It is an amazing, amazing little program. It's unbelievable how expensive private preschool tuition is in the city, and right now we just can't see how we would pay for it.  But it is such a perfect fit.  It is everything she needs.  This is the constant tension of living in America, for us:  balancing the best fit vs. the expense.  Balancing the investment of time vs. the reward from doing so.

We've talked about it, and we think it might be time for us to go back overseas.  I really like my job here.  I'm enjoying the work (well, I have one passive aggressive boss, but nothing is perfect).  But the hours are long, the commute is long, the best schools are expensive. . .versus going back overseas, where my contract includes school tuition and housing, access to top schools (it's often easier to get in as an expat than it would be to top schools in America), often a better commute, higher salary, etc.

On the one hand, it finally feels like we are settling in and things are working here.  The kids are becoming reasonably happy.  T is actually okay with his job, and looking to expand his opportunities.  But I think over recent months the costs of being here have also become really apparent to us.  Americans don't have very good quality of life.  We've become a society about things, rather than about family, and too many people spend the bulk of their time pursuing higher salary and more things.  We obviously don't intentionally choose to do so, but with the high cost of everything, T has taken on some extra projects to afford the "extras" like summer camp (which we actually need so we can keep our jobs).  And with the expectations inherent in the professional world about how much people work here, in order to be perceived as being successful at my job, I have to put in more hours than I otherwise might, and certainly more than I was working before we moved back to the U.S. last summer.

So, we're reviewing options.  If there is a window of opportunity to move this summer, we would take it.  The girls have to change schools anyway.  We've only arranged summer camp for half the summer.  Our lease is up in June.  It feels possible.  I've considered at a few jobs in Europe and Asia, but they don't feel like the right opportunities.  I'm keeping my eyes out, and trying to figure out what will be best for our family.

It's interesting.  When we moved back, we thought it would be for a long stretch.  But this was our first time living in the U.S. with little kids and two working parents, and we've discovered it is not what we were looking for at all.  It's kind of a weird thing to realize about your own country.


Anonymous said...

It is an interesting observation, and I think very true. We have gotten away from family and are more about the stuff and money.
It is frustrating being here and trying to afford everything you want to give your kids. We have horrible maternity leave, most child care is geared toward stay at home parents (and it is still expensive so you have to work to afford it!)
We celebrate family, at the same tine we make it almost impossible to afford one.

Jane said...

I'm so glad that SB's school situation is not only resolved for now, but 100 times better than before! And I hope you can figure out a way for her to continue to go there if you decide to stay.

At the same time, I totally understand your thoughts about moving abroad again. Our adjustment back to the US has also been a struggle, and I have a flexible part-time job and my husband has a lot of flexibility. This lifestyle is crazy - there is so little space and so few places to just "be." And it takes so much time and effort to build strong communities (even/especially in the absence of extended families). There are such better ways to raise children and to live as families/communities.

So I hope for your sake you can find a lifestyle that is what you want and not just one where you're getting by, or that things get even easier as you adjust to being back. (I was told to plan on a 6-12 month adjustment period - I am thinking 12-18 may be more realistic to really feel settled.)

Jessica White said...

America has to be one of the LEAST family friendly places in the world. We don't care about relationships of any sort. It's all about me me me and what things I want.

Can't wait to see what you decide.