Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Could someone please tell me what it is that I want?

I. am. so. frustrated.

I wish the Universe (a stand in for whatever you choose) would stop messing with me.

Today we were out on the playground at VBS. The kids were all happy. It was warm and sunny but not too hot. There was a gentle breeze. We had just come from chapel where I got to see a teacher tenderly guide Charlie through his first communion experience. And in that moment I thought I wanted four kids. Really. Me. I know. Another teacher was there, who does have four of the sweetest, most well behaved, adorable kids you could ever imagine. And she seems so happy and free. I wanted to be like her. I wanted it for me and I wanted it for Charlie and Wesley (and James and Mary, my ficticious third and fourth children who will never exist because I will probably have to be institutionalized if I find myself pregnant again).

The rest of the morning was unremarkable until half an hour before dismissal when one little girl screamed angrily at me "I WANT TO GO HOME" and then sat in the middle of the rug sobbing inconsolably for half an hour. I felt for her, I really did. But there was no reasoning with her. And there are thirteen kids. I didn't know what to do. She screamed until her mother came to pick her up. And then two of the boys got into a fight over a bean bag chair. I took the bean bag chair and put it back in its place and shooed the boys to the other side of the room. I turned around to clean some play-doh off a tiny table and one of the boys head-butted me in the butt. I took him by the hand and shooed him away another time, only to have him angrily throw all the trucks off their shelf. Awesome. Yay, let's have two more!

After that magical late-morning experience I got my two knuckleheads loaded into the car and checked my voicemail.

It was Dr. Smarty from the National Lab and he wanted to talk to me about "an opportunity."

I enjoined Charlie to be a "really good quiet boy for just a few minutes" then called Dr. Smarty back. Dr. Smarty asked me what my employment situation was and I told him that I'm looking. He confirmed that I live in South. Then he asked the big one.

"Do you anticipate a move to [state just north of where my friends Michelle and Barack call home] would be possible in the future?"

thud thud thud thud (that's the sound of me smacking my head against the headrest of the car)

"What happened to Mama? You hurt your head on the car?" (that was Charlie)

"Um, no," I replied "I don't anticipate being able to move anytime in the next five years. My husband is involved in the early stages of a project he cares deeply about."

Dr. Smarty sounded disappointed and said that there were "opportunities" he wanted to discuss with me, again. I promised to talk it over with Ryan some more and get back to him if I felt anything could change. He encouraged me to do so.

Exhausted, hungry Charlie whined pitifully the whole way home then fell asleep as I pulled into the garage.

When I started typing I was all fired up about how unfair everything was. That, although it is true that Ryan would move for my job if I asked him to, the practical considerations make it almost impossible. The fact that he has a reliable job that pays for our health insurance and that he enjoys and can be home at six almost every single night is not something to take for granted. We are very lucky that he can support us all allowing me to take care of things here so that our weekends are spent enjoying eachother instead of running errands and taking care of chores. And moving for a job for me is absolutely a bad idea given how willing I would be to quit that job if one of the boys needed me at home for some reason.

I emailed Ryan to tell him about the phone call and rough VBS experience and the pitiful whining from Charlie all the way home. He responded "I really want this for you. How can we make it work?"

And I threw up my hands. Because I have no idea. Now that it is nearly one-hundred degrees in the afternoon here, I could definitely see myself living somewhere else. I miss the change of seasons, I miss sensible city planning, I'd love to take advantage of public transportation.

But the fact remains that a job like the one Dr. Smarty is likely talking about would take a lot more time than I am prepared to give up. Probably. I don't know. Other people manage to make it work all the time. Since my last freakout on here I have been much happier with my new role staying at home than I was (through a combination of refocusing negative thoughts and a serendipitous improvement in Charlie's attitude).

There is no question that it would be a good move professionally. Like flipping the bird to a couple of professors who expressed doubt that I could manage two babies and my research.

I guess the conclusion from all of this is that the National Lab is not the right place for me while Charlie and Wesley are young. What the right place is, I do not know. But there will only be two children involved (with appologies to the two half-cells who might otherwise become James and Mary).


Dr. Maureen said...

That IS frustrating. Incredibly incredibly frustrating. I'm kind of glad I have no ambitions of academia for just this reason. It's almost impossible to be choosy about location when you want to do research. And what do you do? IT'S SO HARD.

So, yeah. I have no practical advice, only empathy.

On another note, can I just say how weird it sounds to me, a Catholic, that Charlie is already participating in his first communion and he's only two? Because we do that at seven.

Sarah said...

Ugh. Ben always says he would move for me if I wanted to go on the job market for tenure track jobs, and I know he would in a heartbeat, but the fact is, I will NEVER make enough money to support us all unless I write a bigtime textbook or something. I completely understand where you're coming from :(

(I am a big fan of the smiley and frowny faces lately-- sorry)

Kyla said...

Oh man! What a conundrum!

If nothing else, this probably helped you reevaluate what you are looking for right now (out of the home work that isn't too terribly consuming) and reinforce that you ARE an attractive prospective employee. Hold on to that as you continue your search!

Anonymous said...

Hey Bec - I just wanted to give you a little love, and a little reminder. I chose to move way way far away from family. You should know that little tears of joy/jealousy well up in my eyes every time I see pictures of your boys with Sibley or Scott's kiddoodles. You may not stay so close to them forever, but what I wouldn't give to have my kids grow up with their cousins and grandparents nearby. By the way, when you wrote that post way-back-when debating between North and South and you talked about the cousins growing up in South and all eating popcorn out of dixie cups while watching a movie (or something to that effect), I still read that sometimes when I miss home a cry a little.

I know its hard, but while you're jealous of others, we're jealous of you!

Lindsay M.

Hanah said...

I'm sorry that I have nothing to offer except platitudes and sympathy. I know how difficult these trade-offs are. It's only incredibly good luck that has kept me out of this exact same position so far, and two years down the road I may well find myself in exactly the same place. So it's something I've thought about a lot, but I haven't come up with any solutions. I wish you and your family the best of luck.

Andrea said...

Don't do it, man. I feel for your struggle right now, but I know you pretty well and I know that you would not be happy up here. Trust me. You have a good thing going in South and eventually the right opportunity will come along.

AJU5's Mom said...

So, I know one reason you aren't moving just yet is because you would have to repay the moving expenses to Ryan's current employer. So, once that period is over, why don't you both apply to jobs in the same cities. Then see what happens. You may be able to find jobs for both of you in a city you would want to live in. If you don't, then stay where you are. I know it is tough because you want to work, but something may come up in South before you both even apply for jobs in other cities!

Alyssa said...

Aw - my heart breaks for you when I read this post. I'm sorry that things seem so unfair right now, and it must be so hard deciding what opportunities to leave be, and which ones to follow. I'm already feeling this way, and we don't even have children yet.

Hang in there - that's really all I can say. And sending you lots of (((hugs)))

KW said...

I'm re-reading your old posts,and, now, in 2013, you have a James and a Mary! Yay!