Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Multi facets

I love reading Winnie The Pooh to my children. When they first reach an age to reach chapter books, there is this love of the silly bear with little brain. When they are a bit older, they see all the other silliness and are entertained. But, when they reach a point of more abstract thinking, the book opens a whole new, more mature world to them.

This was the case reading a chapter yesterday afternoon. The 3 year old was content to flirt around and pretend to listen. The 7 and 9 year olds were listening and appreciating Pooh at the typical childish level. But, the 14 year old listened to one of Pooh's verses and just busted out laughing. And, suddenly, he understood so much about Pooh that he never got in the past readings we've done. He would find even more if he read it to himself, I suspect.

Since its summer, we're focusing, as we always do, on reading and math and then lots of playtime the rest of the day. Getting back to reading chapter books is one of the things I missed last month in the hectic stress of doing what should have been done after 4 months in one. My children dearly missed their schoolwork last month. I dearly missed teaching them. Even my older two are handling summer school requirements with grace. I made their summer *very* light since they will be turned back over to the public school again in August. Minimum of 1 chapter of reading a book daily. Minimum of 2 paragraphs of writing a day. E is reading Twilight. The one chapter requirement is nothing for her. A found his Poe collection. He must be enjoying it, since I have trouble bringing him back to family life at lunchtime. I told him he would love Poe. He had to consume everything Tolkien ever wrote before he was ready to try another author though.

These are the things I have always loved about homeschooling. After last fall, I lost that joy entirely. Even when I brought 2 back for their own good, I didn't enjoy it. I was afraid I would never feel pleasure in my life again. I'm so grateful to feel some things being returned to me.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sweet summer vacation

So the small trickle of job leads fizzled out before they began. At least we truly know we cannot go backwards. It is scary to realize that he's lost 6 years on his career if he needed to go back. Even so, it pretty much guarantees my wish that if he doesn't get into medical school that he rebuild in computers and not manufactoring. With the part-time jobs he currently holds, he's actually showing more current experience in that career than the one he accidentially built in Production Control. After some long and hard thinking, I have decided I will not return to manufactoring. That lifestyle supported, encouraged and condoned his behaviors.

I am nervous though. The data entry boss informed us that summer is his slow time and he would send us more work when and if he had it...six weeks ago. II has had more IT work at the Inn so we have the bills covered for the summer. Financial aid comes back in August that gets us through the fall. I have NO idea how we're going to make up the shortfalls for November and December. Specifically, I don't know how we're paying rent, much less accomplishing Christmas this year.

Today, I'm not going to panic about what isn't here yet. The plan is to try and 0put aside bits and pieces towards the rent money now (and we should have a tiny bit to put towards it this month). We were sent annonymous money and used it to buy a trampoline. They were actually rather cheap and its now locked up in the storage shed as the big Christmas present for all 8 children. II is going to try to buy wood in bits and build a gift for each child. I'm going to use yarn and fabric from that comfortable middle class life we used to live and make a third. If we can accomplish that, then all we have to still find is PJs for the kids, which we sew anyway because they want to match and you cannot buy them matched in their size spans. Then, we have stockings to fill. But, honestly if the stockings have to be fruit and candy this year because food stamps will cover those, then so be it. I keep reminding myself that II finishes his pre-med courses in May, sits for his MCATs by end of May/first of June and will work his rear off until he hears about med school admissions after that point. If he gets in, he'll have a stipend for living on. If he doesn't then he'll work hard to rebuild a career and make a livable wage for this family again. Either way, next Christmas should not look anything like this Christmas. That's what I tell myself anyway.

For now, I'm on break. I finished my last 2 freshman classes, outside of PE, for my degree. I finished them with 2 more solid As. Okay, not surprising but it sure helps restore the hit nursing schook did to my GPA anyway. II got an A in his lab science class. Worked his rear off, learned what it takes to finally make an A and did well. He's already back in more classes and will only get another 2 week break before fall starts. I'm out until August and enjoying the time with my babies. I had hoped to get busy earning data entry pay, but that's not happening. I've applied for several nurse aid positions, but haven't hear anything back in spite of having a personal reference from a classmate who works at one of the places. Focusing on the homeschooling and just loving on the babies now.

Monday, June 14, 2010

What if you could

go back?

While this move and change in our lives has absolutely been the best choice to try and restore our marriage and reclaim our dreams, its also been the hardest thing we have EVER done financially and emotionally.

Two weeks ago, I couldn't take it anymore. I'm tired of stressing over whether the bills will be paid, over the fact that our house is not selling and we're completing the deed in leu paperwork to pre-empt forclosure. I hate not owning a home. I miss my home. I miss the safety my children had. So, II went job searching, under the assumption that if he can secure a job, the mortgage holders will negotiate the mortgage with us so we can save the house and move home.

He did it Memorial weekend and there were no initial leads. Then, 2 leads for very sub-par positions came in last week. There were 3 recruiters calling him last week and never reaching him. One of them reached him today.

Its six years backwards in the career he built. Its driving an hour each direction for him, plus I would have to drive an hour to school as well now. It would definitely be the end of his dreams, but it would take us home.

It would also put II right back into the industry that fueled his sex addiction. And yes, that environment absolutely DID fuel his addiction. It would put him miserable, a massive pay cut, and us scraping and never having time to be together as a family again. I cannot go back to homemaker. So, I would have to continue my studies. And, if my school now is considered subpar for my field, the one I would have to transfer to is a joke. His life, his dreams...it would all be over.

But, we would be home, and the children would have private health insurance, their friends, their activities...or what we could attempt to afford of them, better schools, back near my family...and right back in the town where we twice had DCFS called on us because of M's bizarre behaviors.

My instinct is to say no. We're okay today. We're good through October, in fact. November and December will be dicey unless we can make something more happen before then. And, I have NO idea how we'll pay for Christmas. But, since we've got all the bills paid until then, we can set aside what we earn now to cover those months. And, I believe I have a plan figured out to cover Christmas. It will be a very small Christmas, but it would be Christmas just the same. We've finally figured out the school situations here. The only person still unsettled is M, and the testing done last week should start to get him into a settled situation by fall.

There are four IT jobs at the medical center for which II is more and qualified for, all of which will pay at least what this position pays, two of them significantly more. If he wants to leave his dream, we agreed he would rebuild in IT and walk away from the manufactoring aspect of his career, for his sake as well as the family.

His only thought this morning is that he bought $50 in groceries this am and our kids were hungry. What he doesn't see is that our kids have refused to eat an entire fridge full of healthy left-overs. He brought $50 of junk food into the house and they consumed what should have been 3 days worth of junk food in one morning. This afternoon, I will be forced to throw at least $50 worth of left-overs away because they flat-out refused to eat them. That's not hungry. That's picky and stubborn and unhealthy. But, its NOT hungry.

I don't know. I'm torn. Financial security would be wonderful. Excellent health insurance at low cost would be heavenly again. Yet, we're just starting to restore this marriage and this family. I'm just starting to see a future where we are ALL present. I don't know if I want to lose our future to go rot back in our past again. I'm not sure that's healthy for any of us, not just II....who by the way has finally found the curve on As and is earning a high A this term and knows what it will take to earn them in the future as well.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

You can't go back and you can't get stuck.

I'm taking 2 summer classes this month. They were the bulk of the last of my general education requirements and I wanted to get them over and done with. While they are easy coursework, the accelerated pace of cramming a normal 16 week schedule into 4 for two classes has been insane. On the bright side, I'll be done next week and off for the rest of the summer. Free to finally enjoy my kids, to watch my baby settle back down from the stress of losing mama for 6 hours every day and free to work on schoolwork with abandon and pleasure with the kids.

We've always altered our school schedule in the summer, to accomodate for getting outside and enjoying life, as well as for the impromptu ability to learn from life while we're out enjoying it.

I miss that. I miss teaching my children more than I ever imagined. The three who remain in homeschooling took off this month so I could focus on my own insane schedule. They miss school. I miss sitting down and reading long, pleasurable stories to them. I miss exploring science, discords on history, explaining geography, politics and whatever else our days bring us.

Yet, I'm getting strong again. I'm finding my ability to stand and to manage this family again. I've made some mistakes on this journey. I've learned some things new and old about me, about life, and about my family.

I told II this week that for the first time, I actually have some dreams where he is alive and part of my life again. In October, all of my dreams were about him dead. Eventually, half of my dreams involved him dead, the other half simply had no answer to where he was, but he was not part of my dream world. I'm pleased to discover that I never had any dreams about killing him. To this day, having to engage with my mother will result in violent murder dreams about her. So, I'm actually relieved that my heart and my soul has processed his betrayal differently her abuse. But, I am actually having some dreams with him in them now.

For his part, II seems to actually be in recovery. He misses his Celebrate Recovery meetings almost as often as he manages to get to them, but its not due to avoidance but the interference of family life. He always returns and intends to set forth every week to attend, only missing when life overrides and cannot be avoided. He still has some character flaws, some of the ones that landed him needing recovery in the first place. But, he's concious of them and trying to work through them. He still has a lot of pain and trauma to process from his past and from his mistakes. But, he's not in denial. He's not hiding, he's honest. I wouldn't say he's changed. He's merely more complete of a person. When I worry he might revert back, he reminds me one of the fundamental truths of addiction recovery. Today, he is sober and, Lord willing, he will be so tomorrow as well.

I have to stand back and let him be responsible for his own recovery and choices. I have to learn to accept that he cannot promise me forever. He is sober today. I have to accept that gift of sobriety and pray that he can continue to say that each day we live. I don't know what I'll do if he falls back into his addiction, and I don't care actually. I am responsible for MY life, not his. I have boundaries in place, ways to ensure that I and the children are protected emotionally and physically. If he violates those boundaries, then we'll deal with it when it comes.

I've spent 8 long months contemplating and wrestling over where do I go from here. Yes, we're together. Maybe we will be forever, maybe we won't. But, I need to be an independent and healthy individual. I do not believe staying at home was healthy for any of us, most especially me. I won't go back to that. So, I have to find the path that is right for me here...today...for my future. I've realized along the way that you cannot go back and you cannot get stuck. All you have in life is to assess where you are today and what journey forwards fits with today.

I'm not going to medical school. That was the dream of another life. I promised myself that II and his whores would not change me. I would not abandon my values, my character nor my integrity because of the damage his addiction caused. I realize medical school is not being true to who I am now. No matter where I go or what I do, I am a mother. I care passionately about children, especially my children. I care about education. I MISS teaching. Who I am is a mother and a teacher. Where I go from here cannot deny those roles, cannot ignore those passions. I won't walk down a path that denies me the chance to be those things. So, I'm going for the PhD in Sociology to be a college professor. Sure, it won't be glorious. It won't make a lot of money. But that is where I belong, and that is where I can balance my own dreams and need for self-identity with the needs of my family without either being lost in the other.

Maybe for the first time in a long time, I'm proud of who I am. I don't need anyone's approval. I don't need glory. I don't need to prove I can accomplish or be anything that others can be, or expect me to be. I just need to be ME. And, I need to show my children that I didn't pursue my path at the cost of their lives and world. I'm where I belong, and I'm truly at peace with my choices now. Three semesters for my undergrad and my goal is to enter Graduate school fall 2012. Maybe my path is later than most. But, my passion and my understanding of the world beyond is actually greater.