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!*