I’m a planner by nature. I like to make to-do lists, and have been known to write tasks that I’ve already done on a list just so I can cross them off. When I have a busy day coming up, I tend to go over the plan for it over and over in my head. So it’s driving me a little nuts that there’s so much I don’t know about what the future holds. There’s all of the usual unknowns about what life with Sprout will be like in a few months. We don’t know much about her personality at this point. She seems fairly laid-back, but that could change. Her smiles are heartwarming but still rare–will she be a solemn kid? And Tadpole is eager for her to be more of a playmate than she can be at this point–but will that change when she’s big enough to start getting into his toys?
There are also some other big unknowns about the future. After getting laid off three weeks before Sprout was born, I’m in the middle of looking for a new job. And we’re also trying to figure out where Tadpole will go for kindergarten next year.
I’ve been sending out resumes and cover letters since early January, and have been happy to be asked for a number of interviews. There seem to be a lot of jobs out there for folks with my background, which is promising. Last week I had two second interviews, and I think my chances of being offered at least one of those jobs is really good. They both seem interesting, and are both a move away from the kind of work that I’ve done in the past. There’s two big differences between them though–one would be a regular full-time, 40-hour-a-week position and would pay about what I was making at my old job. The other would be about 28 hours a week and would involve making a fair amount less (both hourly and total pay) than my old job. I have a lead on a part time job that could supplement that, but it still wouldn’t be as much as I was making before.
I don’t know if I’ll be offered the part time one, but if I am I’m not sure which to choose. It has been amazing to have an extra day home with Tadpole for the first five years of his life. Working most days, but also having one day for library story times or trips to the zoo or adventures on the light rail was the perfect balance for me. The age Sprout is now is not my favorite, but I also know how quickly Tad became a more interesting companion. I don’t want Sprout to be short-changed and to miss out on something that Tad had. And it seems like the time might be even more important to have with her because she is a second kid and won’t have as much one-on-one time with Roo or me. I know how short these early years can be.
But I’m also really really tired of having money be so tight. The last several months have been incredibly stressful in terms of money, but they also came on top of the years when money was tight because of putting every available dime into our TTC efforts. We really need to be putting more (some!) money away for retirement and/or the kids’ college funds. And it would be nice to be able to chose the best school for Tadpole without having the cost be such a huge consideration. And it would be lovely to pay for extras like Tad’s soccer program without having to cut something else. And there are some major expenses (like some home repairs and getting a car to replace mine before it completely falls apart) that we’ve been putting off, and which I’m not sure can be put off much longer. I know we’re very lucky to have my part time work even be an option, but I’m not sure if I’m up for the belt-tightening that would come with it.
If that weren’t enough stress, we’re also in the midst of having to make decisions about where Tadpole will go to kindergarten next year. There’s room for a whole post here about why we’re considering the schools that we are. But for now I’ll just explain that we’ve applied to a number of area charter schools, as well as two private schools. For the charter schools, the spots are all awarded by lottery so there’s no way to predict which of them he’ll get into (if any). For the private schools, he first has to get in and then we have to figure out whether we can afford whatever financial aid deal they are offering. And of course which job I take also has implications there. So all of this is up in the air as well.
It has been frustrating to have both the job search and the school search take up so much of my maternity leave. Instead of spending the days staring into my newborn’s eyes, I have been trying to get her to sleep so I can write more cover letters. And the school application process also involves a huge time commitment–open houses at the different schools we are considering, parent and child interviews at the private schools, digging out all of our financial information to complete the financial aid applications, etc. I’m not sure how we would have managed it all if I was working now, especially if it were a new job where I hadn’t built up much leave.
In addition to the times when I can’t be physically with Sprout because of job interviews or school interviews, there are also the times when I’m with her but distracted. I spend a lot of time thinking about the various job prospects and trying to discern which is the right one. I’m also nervous about pumping/breastfeeding once I’m back at work, so I spend time trying to figure out a plan for that. But it’s hard to come up with a plan when I have no idea what my schedule will look like or how far from Sprout’s daycare I will be.
I spent so much of my time during the TTC process living in the future, imagining what it would feel like if this try worked, or picturing our kids with the age spread they would have or… I don’t want to do that now. I want to be present to Sprout during my last few weeks of leave. But I also have to do some projecting into the future. Part of making these big decisions involves picturing myself in various situations and seeing what feels right–how will I feel if I’m dropping Tad off at school x in the fall? What would it be like to come to this building to go to work? I want to focus on Sprout, but it is hard when I’m pondering all of these big decisions.