Thursday, April 30, 2009

Doing Too Much Without Really Doing Anything

Sometimes I feel like my life is so full and busy and then at the end of the day I can't even figure out what I did. Or when my husband calls from work or school and asks what I'm doing, usually it's not worth explaining to him what exactly it is that I'm doing...I'm looking for my daughter's missing shoe, or I'm trying to restack the Tupperware she pulled out of the cabinet, or I'm helping my 2-year-old in the bathroom, or I'm trying to calm a crying 4-year-old who didn't get the pencil he wanted, or sometimes I'm just lying there on the couch trying to figure out what comes next.

Then there are the point of my day that are so jam-packed that I just can't seem to keep it all together. When I'm making dinner for both my family and a family in need. I don't have enough of what I was making for us, so I have to make something else for them, and I'm doing both at the same time.

Yet it all seems so meaningless. Sometimes I do things just to keep myself busy. Do the pictures that haven't been put in an album yet really need to be re-organized? Probably not. Do I really need to go through the swimsuits and toss the worn out ones right now since we most likely won't be going swimming anytime soon? Not really. Is it really necessary to re-organize the extra room closet--was it really so bad before?

Then I have all the projects I want to do and probably need to do that I just can't seem to get motivated to do. Like repainting the kitchen. At first I didn't mind the pink, but the longer I'm in it, the more I feel like I'm living inside a bottle of Pepto-Bismal. So we bought some cranberry to re-paint. I know that once I get started, the job will be done in a matter of days and, knowing me and my love for monotonous yet detailed work, I will probably really enjoy the actual work. However, I can't seem to get motivated enough to open that can of paint, cover everything with plastic, and get going on it. I'd rather lay on the couch and watch re-runs of "Home Improvement" while the children nap.

Does anybody else ever feel like their day is so full but they accomplish nothing?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Secondhand Smoke

I really get irritated when I have to walk through a smoke-filled radius to get to my destination. Even people who smoke outside don't seem to realize that their bad habit affects me and my children. I can't tell you how many times we have to plow through secondhand smoke while I walk the kids to school and back every day. Or when we go to the grocery store and there are people smoking out front of both entrances. It's not like we can enter the store another way. Their right to smoke infringes on my right (and my children's rights) not to inhale the stuff. It's very bothersome, yet nothing can really be done about it that's not already been done--no smoking is allowed in public places and when people smoke outside it has to be outside of a certain distance from the entrance/exit doors. Yet still the smoke reaches my lungs and the lungs of my children. Very irritating!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Old Regrets

I just found out that my brother and his wife will be moving across the country for him to go to law school. They will make their move shortly after having their first child, at which point, I believe, she is planning on staying home with the baby. At any rate, while I'm excited for them and the awesome experiences they will have, a twinge of jealousy streaked through me at the same moment.

At first, I thought it was because I never got to experience something like that, moving far away from family while my husband goes to school and I start the experience of raising our family. But then I remembered that we did move far away from family so he could try to go to school (for his undergrad) and things didn't work out quite how we expected them to. Then I thought it's probably because they are moving to a place I've never been and possibly will never go. No, that can't be it. But my third thought revealed the truth behind the feeling. I felt that way for a second because that is one point in my life I wish we could do over.

We moved far away from family and friends. When we first moved, the only thing we knew was that he was going to finish school, for we had an acceptance letter to start winter semester (January) there. Unfortunately, being a teacher by profession, we decided to move during the summer so I could try and find a teaching job there. At first, we had nowhere to live and no jobs. We had a little money in savings, enough to put a deposit on a place, but that was all. Oh, and we had a dog, not the most convenient family member for finding a rental place.

But we found a place. The landlady was a cute elderly lady who allowed us to have our dog because "people love their pets" and was kind enough to let us sign rental papers even though we had no current proof of income. She said we looked like nice, hardworking people who were willing to do whatever it would take to pay the rent, so she trusted that we would. So we went back home, packed up our stuff, and moved.

The week after the move, we set out to look for jobs. My problem was that I was a teacher. My resume listed my teaching experience. There weren't really any teaching jobs to be found, so I settled for looking for secretarial work. Always the question was asked, "If you find a teaching job, will you leave to do that?" I couldn't lie. They wouldn't hire me. I finally found a job in retail. My husband found a job at another retail location in the same mall. We were both on the constant search for better jobs, jobs with benefits. I worked there for about six weeks before a teaching job opportunity presented itself.

I started teaching in the fall. The second month of school, I found out I was expecting a baby. My husband didn't have a job with benefits. At that time, he was working in the warehouse of the retail store and also as a teacher's aide at the school I worked at. I had benefits through my job, but they were barely affordable just for me. We couldn't afford to add my husband to the coverage, so we didn't.

Then it came time for him to register for his classes. He couldn't get into any of the ones he needed. He already had an associates' degree and we didn't want him to waste time loafing around, taking general courses he didn't need just to pass the time until he could get into the classes he needed. He talked with a counselor in his major. They couldn't do anything for him. He would have to try and crash the classes. There was no guarantee he would get the ones he needed. With a baby on the way and no way to pay for the expenses, since I was planning on quitting my job when our child was born, he didn't want to wait. He stopped registering and withdrew.

We stayed until the end of the school year and our rental contract. Our baby came early. He was due just after the school year was over, but came five weeks before his due date. I had to use sick bank days to get paid those last few weeks.

I tell you this story to illustrate my sense of loss. We gained a bit. I got some good experience teaching in a situation I may never have had. We got to enjoy one whole year far away from family and learn to rely on each other early in our marriage. But we didn't accomplish our main goal, which was for him to graduate with a teaching degree. If we had, he would have been teaching for almost 5 years now. How different our lives would be at this point!

Instead, we left. My husband went back to his old job. He will finally finish his undergraduate degree this spring, in about 5 weeks, but not in teaching. He will keep working at his current job. I'm disappointed that he won't be a teacher; he would be a great high school history teacher and coach on the side, which was the original plan.

I realize plans change. Life changes them sometimes. But that was such a good plan. I still struggle with how it changed, which is why I regret the decisions we made back then. That's why when I hear of the news of my brother I am happy for them, but I look back with regret. I guess it's not jealousy, but I wish I could have a do-over. I would have encouraged my husband to stay, to see his schooling through up there. I know he would have had a MUCH better school experience there than he has had these past two years. I know we would have figured out jobs and money and health insurance and it would have worked out. But if I had any time period in my life to do over, that would be the one.

Do you have any time in your life that you would do over, given the chance? Or am I the only one with regrets?


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