Friday, January 16, 2009

Do you ever just wonder if you are about to completely lose your mind?

I know that is sort of a vague and open-ended question, but one that I am sure many mommies can relate to. But lately I feel like all the forces of the universe are colliding with the express goal of me losing any thread of sanity that I have left. Let me elaborate.

First of all, I am 6 months pregnant. I feel like that statement in and of itself should explain quite a bit of my mental instability. My body has been taken over by another life force. I have two other children, so I should be used to what I am going through. But waking up everyday to a new feeling in your body, and hormones taking over your emotions is a little unnerving, to say the least. And as I grow I am more tired and cranky, which isn't helping my other kids out at all.

I have a nearly 4 year-old daughter, Georgia, whose sole purpose in life right now is to argue and disagree with everything I say. She will literally argue over whether the sky is blue. My favorite is when she tells me that I really do know the answer to a question where I have said, "I don't know." She will insist, to the point of tears, that I do know and I am just not telling her. What on earth do you do with that? Fortunately, she also does it to her little brother, so I have a companion in my frustration. And getting out the door to go anywhere has become such an ordeal, with one or both of us frequently crying on the way out.

Now onto the other one......Noah. He just turned 2 in November, and plunged full-throttle into the terrible-
ness of the age. I used to long for the day when he would defend himself against his sister's barrage of, "no, that's mine, you can't play with that, I don't like you, GO AWAY!!!" However, he has become more-than-capable of holding his own against her in the past 6 months. So much so that he will chase his older sister around the house to push her, hit her, and pull her hair. He has also learned to talk back to me. I am often told by this three-foot-tall being, "that's not fair," or "i need that, right now!"

Thank God my kids are so really saves them some days. So does the knowledge that every phase we go through is just that: a phase. It just seems like when I finally have a handle on one set of issues, a whole new ball game starts and I have to figure it out all over again. I have also managed to realize that they are pretty smart cookies. I think this is why I get so much attitude. I mean, what 4 year-old can make a reasonable argument against what you have told them. Or remember back a year ago to when you told her something different. And what just 2 year-old knows and recognizes all his letters and their sounds?

But the thing that has been underlying all of the above for the past few months is more complex and serious. This past October my husband found out that he would be getting laid off in April. He works in the financial industry, and things just suck right now, so it was not totally unexpected. Nevertheless, it is not something we were overjoyed about either. While this alone is enough stress for most people, I was okay with things, knowing that we would make it work and could handle whatever came our way in the next year or so. (Did I mention that we found out we were pregnant only 4 weeks before this?) Over the next month or so he came to terms with the possibility that he might not be able to find a job for 6 months to a year. Actually, I thought it might be nice to have him home for a few months, especially since he would stop working a few weeks before our next child would be born. Of course, our peace would not last long.

About a month ago, my wonderful, amazing, and adoring husband found out that the company of his dreams was going to have a job opening. Not just any job opening, but the perfect job in a newly created arm of the company, working for intelligent people that he really admired. They would be hiring someone to start around March and the salary is even in a good spot. Must go for it, right? He started talking to some
people there, has had a few phone interviews, and things sound good so far. We are waiting to see where we go from here. Alex has his own self-doubts about his chances, although I am not sure why. He is so smart, and has this natural affinity for finance and investment-related information. He actually thrives on it. Plus, it just seems fated that he should end up working at this company that he has followed since high school, that happens to create a new opening in his field at the exact time he is getting laid off. I should be so excited for this, especially in this terrible economy and job market. So what is the problem? The job is in Virginia. We live in Pennsylvania. I know, I know, what is the big deal. It is not that far of a move. I have always told him that I would move back to the DC area in a heartbeat, since we both went to school there and feel connected to it. So if it works out, let's go, right? This is what my head has been telling me. However, my gut is in knots, doing triple back flips over the thought of what this job would mean for us right now.

Let me start to explain by saying that in the 10 years since we have graduated from college we have moved 9 times. No, that is not a joke. We seem to have a knack for it, actually. And Georgia has already moved 4 times in her almost four years of life. I have handled all of our moves rather well, I think. I have even been excited about them most of the time. I am a social worker, and I long-ago accepted that I would be able to find a job pretty much anywhere we lived. People everywhere need help: mentally, emotionally, and physically. And since my salary would never compare to my husband's, I knew that we would need to go where he could get a job that would allow him to reach his full potential. I am more than okay with this, and thankfully he has never seriously considered a job that would take us too far away from family and friends. We have pretty much confined ourselves to the Northeast I-95 corridor. My kids have also handled moving remarkably well, although being so young helps.

Now I know that the DC area is not that far from where we are, and that we have access to planes, trains, and automobiles to get us around to family and friends. So why is the thought of THIS move causing such inner turmoil for me? Well, if (and I know it is still a big if) this works out for Alex, I face making this move largely on my own. Being very pregnant. And taking care of 2 young and energetic children. He would have to work away from home for the weekdays for a while, and I would basically be a single parent during the week. I know lots of parents and spouses travel for work, but this is not something I have ever had to deal with. And being worried about what will happen if the baby comes earlier than expected, with the closest family an hour away, I am a little nervous. Also, the thought of selling our house, especially in this market, makes me want to vomit. I am not kidding. Having to get and keep this house in shape to show to potential buyers any waking hour with two kids and a dog, and being able to get everyone out of the house at the ring of the phone is a daunting task for me.

But I am also selfish in my not wanting to move anymore. This is what has been causing the majority of my stress, I think. After our 9 moves I have finally found somewhere that I feel can be home. I love our house, especially the big backyard that the kids can run around in. I love that it has the ability to meet our growing family's need for space. We are mid-way between NYC and DC, where most of our high school and college friends have settled. And it is about as close to some family that we are likely to get. But most of all, I feel settled here. I am comfortable in my life right now. I love the school that my kids are in, and so do they. I know my way around. The best part is that I have real friends here. I haven't felt that way since I finished grad school and the migration began. Sure, I made friends through work, and neighborhood
acquaintances. However, we were rarely anywhere longer than 2 years, which is what they say is the average length of time it takes to really settle in after a major move. I have kept in touch with a lot of amazing friends from college and grad school, but haven't had them close enough to go grab a drink after work. Or have a girls' night out where you can really let loose. I have that here. I found some women that give me that amazing feeling that only comes from close friendship. And our kids are friends. And our husbands get along! I have that friend that will literally drop everything to help me in a crisis, and already has. And I would do the same for her in a heartbeat. THAT is what I have been agonizing over in this whole discussion. And it really has been agony....tears are coming to my eyes right now thinking about having to say goodbye to people that have truly become a part of my family.

Alex has been amazing through this short, but emotional, process. He has repeatedly told me that I can say no to this at any time. And I am so tempted.....I really am. But I can't. In my heart of hearts, I know that if this works out, we need to go down this road. This could be his dream actually coming true, and how many people are able to have that in life? I could never take that away from him, nor would I ever want to. I told him we must have an amazing marriage, and he asked me why I thought so. I said that we manage to pack every major stressful event that life can bring you into the shortest time period, and we are still here, happily married. I mean, within a year of Georgia being born we sold a house, moved 2 times, I quit my job, and Alex took a new job. And we are still here, together. I know that I will get through it if I have to, and many people are willing to help us do so. But I am just really tired. Tired of the physical planning of a move, at the thought of packing up a whole house and be a good parent to my two kids. Tired of starting over.....again.

I am trying not to think about the whole thing too much until we have a better idea of where things stand. Why worry about what may never happen, right? And most days I am successful in my attempt to keep the whole thing out of my head. But every now and then it creeps in, and the knots in my stomach start up. I am hoping that by getting my thoughts out of my head, I will feel a little bit better.

And these days, every little bit helps.


  1. I love your writing. I love reading about what your life has been like for the past 15 years since we parted ways...and I cannot believe how similar our lives are. Please keep writing. It's a beautiful thing.

  2. It could be my pregnancy hormones kicking in, but I was tearing up reading this. I think you know which way I would like things to turn out, but I definitely understand your frustration.

    But what I really wanted to say was this: Anything. You. Need.

    Seriously, no matter what kind of crazy request you might have. I'm at home all day with Max. I could just as easily be there helping you pack up a house, or unpack. I could even arrange to be there to help without Max (he has some grandparents that can't get enough of him). We're going to have the remodeling going on, so Max and I were going to be on the road anyway during February and March, at least. And I am a master at selling on Craigslist. And yard sales are good. People will buy anything. Might as well sell your trash for fifty cents than throw it out or give it away.

    Seriously, we love you (and I totally feel what you mean about being even stronger Mommy-friends), and will help in any way that we can.