September 30, 2010
Leaving aside the many difficult questions floating around my head for a little while longer, I’ve also been thinking a lot about how a family can balance the goals of each individual with the goals of the others and the goals of the group, particularly when they are not compatible.
For a decade and a half, DH and I have, as a couple, treated my career as more important than his. Even though he has brought in more income than I have throughout, my career required much more education and more deliberate planning as I progressed through step. When we got married, he moved to a new city to join me, and in switching jobs he cut his salary in half and his prestige ten-fold. He still progressed in his career, and in fact through the years he has become incredibly accomplished, but my career has always dictated our choices and our geography. More recently, I had to quit my main job to accommodate bedrest, childbirth, and newborns, and I now make a fraction of my former salary. Meanwhile, major things continued to happen in his career, and his work became dramatically more time-consuming. Much of the twins’ first year has involved a traditional division of labor, with DH as primary earner and me as primary parent (not that I haven’t been working, but I’ve had to squeeze it in and his work has taken priority over mine).
We recently started to equalize our division of child care (which has been wonderful, for both of us), and we were on the verge of making another major move for the sake of my career. Then some potential opportunities came up for DH. If offers had materialized for both of us, we might have had to decide, quite literally, between his success and mine, with the other one plodding along but not soaring.
This all became moot when we decided instead to move to a totally different city for the sake of my mother’s medical well-being. DH and I, two incredibly independent people, neither of whom has ever made a decision based on proximity to or the wishes of family, may be sacrificing some major professional opportunities. It may end up working out very well for one or both of us professionally, but at worst it will likely be neutral for our careers. A couple of weeks ago when I was composing this Thoughtful Thursday in my head, I thought it would be a question about dual-career couples. Instead, it’s a question of the choices of each individual versus other individuals and the collective.
How do you balance your own goals with those of other loved ones and the larger family? What have you done when the goals have been in conflict?
September 25, 2010
Or rather, weirder and weirder. This is the weirdest month I’ve ever had… and to think, a year ago, I was pleasantly bored in the hospital.
After the health scare with my mom necessitated cross-country travel, she improved and we went home. We were at home for a couple of days, starting to return to normal, then a relative on DH’s side of the family died. So we immediately had to repack our bags (some clean clothes had never been put away and just stayed in the luggage; the dirty clothes were literally in the dryer when we got the call, so I actually had to wait for them to dry), get out our passports (the twins have passports too… and it is the cutest thing!), and head out within a couple of hours for some international travel. Packed days of funeral/shiva/family obligations and chasing a crawling Tamale and walking Burrito all around the different houses, none of which are remotely baby-safe and all of which seem to have stairs in every room. So many people falling apart around me in response to the death (most emotionally, but some both emotionally and physically), while I am a little sad but mainly detached about this death but entirely preoccupied with my own family issues.
Meanwhile my laptop would not work with the router in the house where we were staying (or when it did work, it somehow monopolized the signal and prevented everyone else from using their computers). This meant that not only could I not post Thoughtful Thursday again this week, I could only check my email from my phone. At least I could do that, because yesterday I got a “Help!” email from one of my mother’s health care providers. And I was at a loss. For words, for ideas, for energy, for everything.
DH and I then went to bed early because we were both exhausted, but instead of going to sleep we started talking about my conundrum. A couple of hours later we had decided to sell our house and move across the country to my mother’s city (a city where, by the way, I did not grow up and have never lived, but which is pretty great).
Crazy. This is all just crazy. We decided last night, then today I kept saying things like, “Wait, are we actually going?” “Was that whole conversation a dream?” But apparently we are actually going. I put out feelers for a new job this morning, and we scheduled a meeting with the realtor for later this week. We’ll put the house on the market ASAP, and as soon as it sells, we’ll go.
I am someone who has relocated many times for career reasons, never caring about proximity to family. I did not think that I was the kind of person who would rearrange my life to care for a family member. Apparently I am… who knew?
We are now in the midst of our travels home (what we consider home for now, anyway), and I thought I should steal a little sleep time to check my blog email. The several “checking in, are you okay?” emails compelled me to post, since if some people are emailing, probably more are wondering. I am okay, but not everyone in my life is. My little raft has hit some rapids, and I’m trying to stay afloat.
September 17, 2010
Sorry, kids, no Thoughtful Thursday this week.
Instead, I’ll recount a conversation I just had with my father.
Dad: Thanks for flying here to take care of your mother.
Me: Sure. This is when it’s tough to be an only child.
Dad: Sorry about that. We tried to give you a little brother or sister, but she couldn’t do it.
Dad: We even went to a fertility specialist. My counts were low too, but that wasn’t the problem.
Blaaaargh! Female factor and male factor! Finally my suspicions are confirmed. I knew that my mother wasn’t telling me the whole story.
Vindication doesn’t feel as good as I thought it would.
September 8, 2010
There’s been a lot of death and gloom in the past few Thoughtful Thursdays. I actually could keep going, due to some major health issues my family is dealing with right now, but it’s too much. I don’t know if it’s too much for you, but it’s too much for me. It’s all just too much. When you’re packing your luggage for an out-of-nowhere emergency trip and you have to examine at your babies’ wardrobes and consider what would be the most appropriate funeral attire just in case, it’s time to change the subject. This week I’ll spare you from the impossibly hard questions that I can’t get out of my own mind.
Instead, since it’s Rosh Hashanah, I will tell you a happy little story about my first Rosh Hashanah.
Not having grown up Jewish, I never baked a challah with a bubbe or a Hebrew school class. Instead, for my first Rosh Hashanah, also my first as a wife in a Jewish household, I taught myself to bake challah.
It turns out that I bake fantastic challah. Delicious flavor, wonderful hard shell and sweet pillowy inside, beautiful aesthetics. Great, except for the dimensions.
The recipe I used was normally designed to make three small braided challahs. Instead, I wanted to make a round challah as is the tradition for Rosh Hashanah, so I did.
I knew that yeasted bread expands as it rises, and again as it bakes, but I did not realize the extent of the growth for this particular recipe, nor did I comprehend that the rate of growth gets disproportionately larger the more dough you use.
When I put the challah in the oven, it was perfectly round, about 12 inches in diameter.
When I took it out of the oven, it was no longer perfectly round… because it had grown so large that it hit the walls of the oven and became closer to a square. It was probably about 30 inches in diameter. Comically enormous. On the way to our friends’ Rosh Hashanah dinner, I couldn’t hold it on my lap in the car as I normally would; instead, I had to wrap it up and put it in the trunk. When we got there, I could barely get it through the door. Everyone saw me and burst out laughing. We couldn’t fit it on the table without moving all of the other food. It was way more awesome than some normal challah.
Later it occurred to me: It was just like that episode of I Love Lucy!
Has there ever been a moment in your life where you realized, “Oh, it’s just like that thing on TV” (or movie, or book…)?
Has there ever been a time when things didn’t turn out the way you expected, but instead were way more awesome?
Shana tova, my friends.
September 2, 2010
#19: Wiseguy from Woman Anyone?
#13: Ernessa from Fierce and Nerdy and 32 Candles
#12: Lost In Translation from We Say IVF, They Say FIV
#11: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#11: Jill from All Aboard the Pity Boat
#10: A from Are You Kidding Me?
#8: Mel, a.k.a. Lollipop Goldstein, from Stirrup Queens
#6: Rebecca from Northern Grin
#3: Strongblonde from Strong Blonde