I need to learn how to make difficult decisions. I'm terrible at it. I wind my way around all the ins and outs, all the possible scenarios, rationalize each detail -- only to mask what really ends up making the decision: gut feel. I can't bring myself to cut out anything substantial in our upstairs remodel plan, even things I care about less than others (such as fixing our strange master bedroom layout). "What if....?" Yet I also want to find ways to make the hefty cost more palatable.
My relatively plum work situation is going quickly the way of "fish or get off the boat." My manager told me today that my company is not renewing contracts past July, and urged me once again to join as a part-time, but permanent, employee. I'm already horribly torn about it. On the one hand, I've wanted to work independently for years, and I'm truly ready for a different company, and a better location. Accepting another job there reminds me of Ashley in Gone With The Wind, dejected after Scarlett manipulated him into staying in Atlanta, rather than become financially independent by accepting a banking job in New York. "If I stay here with you," he said, "I'll never stand alone again."
On the other hand, a part-time flexible job is exactly what I need. The lesser pressure of not being a contractor would be nice, and I'd actually build vacation again, and be able to participate in a retirement plan for the first time in years. As an employee, I could expand into interesting new projects, as the reluctant network engineer in me is still sleepily interested in networking.
But the permanence of it is almost heartbreaking when I look at my blooming baby, who at 16 months old is bursting with new sayings, new discoveries, and for whom walking around in her half-stumble walk is a joyous new venture. I want to do park playgroups with her, swim lessons in the summer, and just have her around at home while I experiment in the kitchen. Julian wants to take ice skating lessons again, and at 4, parent-tot skating classes are one of the last activities I can do with him (not to mention a nice excuse for me to skate a little too!). And, while this doesn't torment me like it did at first, I'd still like to pick Gabriel up from school sometimes.
Work more, home less...much of how I've come to know this house, how I use the spaces, how I want it to work, revolves around my "working" here -- as a full-time Mom, that is. But it's a very difference place if it's only what I come home to, rather than be with all day.
Still, I don't think my working for The Man is a long-term thing. I'd thought I'd have one last hurrah, maybe. Going back to the same company again is hardly a hurrah, but the flexibility can't be beat. I guess that helps make the decision, or rule out other possible avenues. Part-time and flexible are musts.
A wise friend once told me that she'd found that more time often doesn't help with difficult decisions. She's right. So often, it's a matter of throwing away the pros-and-cons list, clearing your mind, and getting in touch with your basic instinct. Running was a great way to do this; something about being outside in a park, just me and the trail and trees and sky, that helped put me in touch with what I really feel. (Unfortunately, all I feel now from running is sharp achy feelings in my now-all-too-familiar tibialis posterior tendon.)
In the face of all this change, I made a point this evening of spending real time with my children this evening. Katrina is having so much fun walking, or sort-of walking. She's still very clumsy, trips a lot, and falls back to crawling, but she loves taking off and trying to walk as fast as she can. Tonight she spent a lot of time going around the "column" around the living room, dining room, and kitchen, laughing her head off. "Yayyy!" is the latest expression, she claps and applauds all the time now (especially at herself).
(On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is "grandparent-level-interest" and 5 is "mildly interesting to all", today's videos are at about a 1! Which is more than I can say for most of my videos.)
The boys love this book "Octonauts" that Aunt Laura and Uncle Ryan got them -- signed by the authors! I'm ashamed to say I don't recall the story of how they found this book, but I do remember it was a good one. They always find the best books.
The reading in this book is more advanced than I expected Gabriel to understand, but
he was doing well enough with it that I thought I'd take some video. (He reads words really well, but that doesn't mean he understands the meaning of the sentence or story.)
In addition to a few seconds of his reading, I also captured a minor conflict between him and Julian. Normally I wouldn't have let Gabriel's hitting Julian go -- I know it happens between them ALL the time; but I do have to make a show of not allowing it. But I was filming. Watching this later, I personally find Julian's empty threats pretty funny, and Gabriel is obviously not in the least bit concerned! They get back to reading pretty quickly, which is another reason that much of the time, pretending not to see a conflict works out best.
(In retrospect, this almost isn't worth posting, because it's about as benign a conflict as we get around here.)
I have a cookie exchange party coming up, and a fabulous new cookie book I have has a great idea: traffic light cookies! Gabriel loved the idea, so I took him with me to Michael's to find a tiny round cookie-cutter (they were out, darn it, but I think we found a workaround). I also bought some disposable pastry-deocrating bags, and when the total came to about $16, Gabriel said, "$16...hmm, that's not too bad, Mom," making the cashier laugh aloud. He just seemed so sincere,so grown-up, but the words and the delivery coming from this skinny little pipsqueak make for an amusing combination. After we got back from Michael's, we made the cookie dough together.
One thing I will say about having three, and I imagine this gets truer with more children, time alone with any one of them becomes all the more precious (and time with all of them together decidedly less!). They're one decision I'm very happy about.