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?


Maren n' Mark said...

I think we all have regrets in our lives, things we wish we could do over, but that's how we grow, isn't it. I mean I know we have had many things not go great in our life and at the time seems fine, but then hindsight, we realize it wasn't the best thing for us. I think life isn't always blissful and goes according to plan, in order for us to grow. I think the way we handle the ups and downs, gives us the opportunity to show what we have learned from things in the past. If not we would never grow and develop. SO don't despair, just keep trying to improve and more forward, that's all we can do.

swedemom said...

Your story reminds me of my cousin's story. Her husband tried for years to get accepted to the Seminary TEacher program. It was a good and worthy goal. And he followed the best path he could. But it was not to be. When they finally accepted that, things fell into place for them and they live a much different life than planned.

IT's hard to see plans go awry and to struggle through those different plans.

BYU Hottie said...

I have regrets--lots of them. I don't think I could single out any particular one as the biggest one. I wonder a lot if I will have more as time goes on, and if there will be any in our marriage.
There are lots of times where i think of your family (the fowles) and all the places you have all been (figuratively and literally), and wish my life were more like that.
And sometimes I wonder about my husband. I know he works hard--always has and always will. I also know how he could have finished his bachelor's degree, and chose not to. He is working on becoming certified in a trade--which I am also grateful for--but I'm sad that he didn't finish his BS degree (especially while it could have cost us very little). But when I think about that little issue, I realize that it was his choice, and I would be resentful if someone criticized my choice, so I change my thinking. I don't want him to feel like he has disappointed me, just because he didn't do what I thought he should.
Please don't misunderstand--I'm not trying to project these thoughts to anyone else, just explaining my own way of thinking. I usually just remember that I finished my degree, which is a huge accomplishment for me, and am grateful that I can say that.
I totally understand how you feel. And I am impressed with what a great wife and mother you are.

Royalbird said...

I still look back and regret my husband not becoming a teacher. But it was his choice to make. It certainly would have changed the tempo of our lives, probably for the better. I have a hard time accepting his choice, even still. I wonder if it is something I will ever be at peace with. Thanks for commenting, it forced me to re-read what I had written.

swedemom said...

I just re-read this. I just appreciate how candid you are.
I do have to ask you one question. Does your husband love what he does? Is he excited to go to work each day? If he is, then it is worth any sacrifice or change of plans you had. If he doesn't love what he does then I am not sure it was worth the sacrifice and changes.
Brent was in school for 10 years. We literally had no money. We didn't save much. And we have never owned our own home. And that is still a few years off for us, while we save for a down payment.
But Brent loves what he does. He is so excited to go to work. Sometimes he wakes up early in the morning and starts writing out ideas. He works hard and long hours, but I know he loves what he does.
It's been worth every amount of sacrifice and struggle we've made. But only because I know that he is happy where he is. If he wasn't, I would be begging him to change his profession.
I hope that you can find some peace with your choices and find the path that feels best for your family.

Royalbird said...

He does love his job, and that's why I have to figure out how to be at peace with it because I really hate his career choice. I would prefer him to be out of town on business than having to drive home after closing at 3 am and have to be back at work at 9 am the next morning. But I feel certain he would have loved teaching as well--he's very good at teaching (that is part of his current job, after all) and he's especially good and patient around teenagers (also part of his current job). He just would have much better hours, albeit less pay. But I think he really would have loved it--and coaching on the side. He would have made a great impact on a lot of young people's lives had he gone that route instead. He took the easier road--staying with the same company his dad was with and that he'd been with as a teenager was easier than changing directions.


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