Monday, October 01, 2007

Choices and corners

On Sunday I narrowly escaped teaching the Mia Maids the "Making Wise Choices" lesson.

I've taught this lesson before and actually, I like it. Three years ago I offered the girls a choice between a fresh nectarine and a rotten nectarine. Easy choice. Then a choice between the fresh nectarine and a bag of candy. Not such an easy choice, until you think about goals and consequences. Then we went on to talk about all the factors and strategies that go into making good choices when they are not so easy and obvious.

But this time I was woefully unprepared. No nectarines, fresh or rotten, or candy to be found in the house, and it was fast Sunday, anyhow. I was actually sitting in Sunday School, my parents beside me to witness my state of unpreparedness, trying to recall all the things we talked about in my three-years-ago Wise Choices lesson and write them down on a notepad otherwise filled with choo-choo trains and stick figure battles, the remnants of a sacrament meeting where the kids behaved astonishingly well. (It helps to have extra hands - I love grandparents!)

It turned out that we had a guest teaching a combined Young Men/Young Women lesson. I was off the hook. We also had a combined priesthood meeting/Relief Society lesson. The topic was "Teaching Your Children Responsibility." It was good, nothing new, but good reminders about charts and consequences and more Love and Logic type stuff, which I totally believe in and subscribe to but don't always implement too well.

Mainly this led me to ponder on the choices that currently affect me the most: having four children at home, and having a full-time job.

Right now I feel like these two choices are constantly at odds. The kind of family life I want is simply incompatible with full-time employment.

I can't stand the rushing and the chaos.

I can't stand it that I actually resent a child who refuses to open his mouth at the dentist after an hour-long sojourn in the waiting room, making for three hours total off work, counting pick up and drop off at daycare.

I can't stand forgetting to send lunch money and getting the call from the cafeteria that a child is getting the bare-minimum "my mom is a loser" lunch and being unable to do anything about it.

I can't stand being unable to sit down and play with the child who is driving me nuts (yes, still) and remind myself that I do in fact love him.

I can't stand cramming every errand and activity into Saturday, and still being completely unprepared for the sabbath.

I can't stand having great ideas for family home evening and job charts and rewards and fun times together, but being completely incapable of implementing them.

I can't stand these questions:

"Can you bring the fish to my class?"

"Can you help with the book fair?"

"Why can't we be home schooled?"

In three years and three months, I've never wanted to quit my job. I've loved it. I've worried that I would mourn too hard if or when it was time to leave it. Suddenly that has changed, which is just weird. A corner turned.

When G and I switched keys today, I told him it's enough. We need to live someplace where we can live on one income. I love California, but this is ridiculous.

I hope that if I get to be a stay-at-home mom again, I will do it better - will be more motivated and organized and confident. I think when I did it before, I wasted a lot of that gift.

Now taking nominations for locations where a multiracial family can live in an open society on one Ph.D. salary. And if possible, enjoy fabulous fresh local produce and proximity to both mountains and ocean. *sniff!*


Anne/2rosebud said...

Oh Ana....I'm so there with you. My way of getting my kids to and from school fell through a few weeks ago and I had to cut back to 3/4 time so that I could leave work at 2pm and be at their school by 3pm. It has made a big difference. But I know that I don't want to go back to full-time again. I really don't like it at all. I could have written your blog entry. I'm glad you did, because obviously, I don't have time to compose my own blog entries! I even made the same pledge that if I could be a SAHM again, that I'd be more organized and get more done.

I hope you're able to find a way for you to do what you'd like to do. ((((((HUGS))))))

Melessa said...

I guess that last sentence rules out Oklahoma-but I would love to have you as a neighbor.

jamie said...

well - you already know living in my corner of the world wouldn't be good so I won't even go there ;) cost of living is wonderful but.....

I sooooooo feel for you! I have "walked a mile" and then some!!!! I had a fantastic 2 yr period where I was a sahm (when my wild dd was in kindy and my youngest was 2 and 3 yrs old) and I tell you - having had the experiences as a wohm did make that experience sweeter - when the time comes for you to go back to working as a sahm you will appreciate in a different way that before - it is still a job though -with up days and down days ;-) lol

And I hear ya about the dentist issue and taking time off for a child like that - grrrrrrrrrr - btdt with my wild one- sigh sigh sigh

WatchMeLoseWeight said...

Well, if you could let go of the ocean and mountains than Iowa City, Ia is beautiful. We're a multiracial family and we do just fine. The kids have a wonderfully diverse school (I joke that my daughter's class looks like a mini-UN).


kate said...

Ana, I think you and G should look into Houston. The cost of living is very reasonable, you should be able to live on G's salary comfortably, there are plenty of universities here (University of Houston, Rice, St. Thomas University, etc) and multiculturalism abounds. The ocean is 45 minutes away (granted, it's pretty gross to swim in because of oil refineries and Mississippi River runoff into the Gulf, but Padre is only a few hours away and much, much nicer) the hill country is about three or four hours away (not mountains, but beautiful nevertheless) and we have wonderful and vibrant farmer's markets around town. The heat is brutal in the summer, but swimming pools and central air are fantastic!

Essy said...

'Please come to Boston'...lla-la-lllaaa. LOL. Really, it's not the least expensive area by any means but we do have diversity and the Ocean and mountains not too far off...

You are in my prayers.

SalGal said...

Come on... if we can survive on a measly elementary school teacher's salary and live here, can't you too? I would miss you too much!

I know we talked a little on Sunday about this, I didn't realize it was so bad. You guys are doing so many good and right things, something will happen to make it work out.

Bek said...

Minneapolis is nice (lots of Ethiopian adopted kids there...lots of multi racial families). No ocean (but a lake) and Mt. I don't know?

I hear you on the salary thing. It is tricky. I am sorry you feel the conflict. Four kids is a LOT... you are doing a good job either way...

Jaren said...


And you need to go to the Spa. It is not what happens in life that defines who we are, it is how we react to it. If he drives you crazy, then YOU need to work on it. He will never change until you do. Good Luck.

Heidi said...

Course, I have to put my lot in...Phoenix. We're 5 hours from the nearest ocean, though. But I think jobs pay well here, and w/ the housing market - you can pretty much get away with ANYTHING you want to pay for...all the foreclosures & whatnot - heck, you may be able to find someone to pay you to take their house...

I understand your frustrations, I've BTDT, too...I love where your heart is, though - you really want to be better, and well, I guess I did at first, too, but now I'm just tired! LOL!

Amanda said...

Portland is close to the ocean/mountains, and has a lot of diversity. Houses are kind of pricey but there are a lot of universities and colleges here. We haven't lived here long, but we enjoy it!

E-coach said...

I hire and train bloggers who blog daily from home. It's a great way to supplement your income. I don't remember if I already told you about it. I don't watch comments, so if you're interested, please email me grocerybike at
There are always different subjects that come up. It pays $8 a post which normally takes around 20 mins.
Some of my bloggers are doing 10-20 posts a day (week days only).
I'm LDS and a single mom and I relate to what you're saying.
I just quit a job so I could be with my son more. Most of my income is from blogging.

Ana said...

Thanks to everybody who wants me as a neighbor ... or so I imagine! There really are a lot of great places out there.

ecoach, advertising is not really my bag. Thanks, though.

Kari said...

No ocean here, but I'd love to have you here in Colorado. We have some African Americans and lots of Hispanics and lots of whites. I think your family would fit in well.

Sorry it is such a rough go right now for you!! ((((HUGS))))

Lisa M. said...

Utah- *grin*

The house across the street is for sale.

We have produce two months out of the year, and we have summer and winter and about six days of spring and fall-


These are hard questions.

I've asked myself simalar ones. I've always been a Stay at home Mom. Most of my parenting career.

But- I've asked the opposite questions.

Why can't we have cable? I want nice furniture. Howe do other people do it? Why can't I have- "insert" anything- here.

I admire you. I always have. I love how you make things work.

The green grass. I suppose.

I hope you find your answers.

Mary said...

I think staying home for you now would be totally different than it was three years ago. You have a completely different set of kids. For months I have been wondering how you have maintained any sort of sanity with everything you have on your plate. At this point we know you are capable of anything but you have to decide how much you actually want to take on. You could always go to Montreal with us, although our move is a few years away.

Ana said...

Well, I do speak French! I could be your interpreter!

Denise said...

I could totally see you in the Pacific Northwest. I think it would fit the bill nicely, except housing could be expensive. But a smallish town within commuting distance of a largish town with job opportunities? Could work.

Lindsey said...

Come to Flathead Co. Montana! The hospital here is the largest employer in the valley, the mountain views are spectacular, and we have REALLY big lakes (the largest fresh-water lake this side of the Mississippi.) And it's definitely a buyer's market right now in the housing department. Plus, Kalispell 2nd ward is the best ward I have EVER lived in!