Thursday, November 28, 2013

Seasons change

When we moved to New England, it was never meant to be long-term. The truth was that we intended to leave again. When one of the medical schools that had accepted II offered him a deferral, we thought there was a good chance we would leave to go back to where we were before the world fell apart on us.

II walked away from medical school in part because he refused to allow me to pay the price I would have to pay for him to be a doctor. The second reason was that the children love New England and have thrived here. They have loved this place so much that II and I made peace that we would stay--forever. I mourned deeply and he set about to repair what his grieving had done to his career for the six months after Micah died. We were going to buy the farm we brought the children to and allow them to finally have roots.

Despite months of working 18-20 hours per day, despite nearly giving himself a heart attack to change his boss' opinion of him going downhill, he could see this fall that his boss was not happy and none of his efforts were making things better. Even then, he resided himself that he would simply not advance in his career but would stay, in order to allow the children the stability they craved. II's company expected him to be back to normal the day after Micah died. He had been brought up more than once since that point, and several times this fall. Finally, unsure how to navigate making the relationship with his boss better anymore, II sought assistance from HR.

For reasons we still cannot grasp, and two lawyers have been stunned to hear, the HR liaison did not assist II in his dilemma. She stated she thought that all II and his boss required was to sit down with a mediator and work on the issues. Perhaps that is true, but that should have been done in a different manner than how she choose to do things. II's HR liaison forwarded his email directly to his boss, in it's entirety.

II and I both knew the moment he got the copy telling him what she had done that his job was gone. In the blink of an eye, one thoughtless decision by an HR employee turned our entire family on our heads. II wrote the VP of HR not because either of us thought there was a chance to stop what was going to happen, but as a Hail Mary for something that would take care of our family. Six weeks ago, II was given a choice by his boss. He could sign a legal liability waiver that would bar him from suing his company, resign from his position and take an extremely generous severance package. Or, he could stay, he could fight for his job, but his boss laid out the path he was going to take to build a case to fire II. Even the HR liaison who sat in the meeting agreed it was an impossible task when his boss said there was a slim chance he could actually succeed in the tasks laid in front of him. Rather, as soon as he sufficiently failed to accomplish the goals listed (and several of those goals were not II doing anything but other employees doing things, which was out of II's control) then he would be fired, and there would be no severance package.

As sick as both of us were about this situation, there was really only one choice to make. The reality is that II never took longer than six weeks to find a job before, and he never looked full-time for a job before either. His severance package would not cover health insurance, but my job had health insurance. Assuming the worst case scenario, we had enough funds to make it to the end of the school year without having to cut back on our living, thanks to the severance package. We had health insurance through my work. If by some chance he secured a job quickly, then what his company gave him would set us ahead years financially. It was best to not think of that possibility but we both knew that we could be far better off as a family by the end of this hard experience than when we started. We simply didn't KNOW what the future was going to hold.

One month to the day from when he gave his resignation, II was given a job offer. He wasn't given just one job offer. He was actually given two, both huge promotions (the level of the boss who fired him in fact), both were significant pay raises. Neither job offer was where we are living. We have decided to look towards this move as an adventure, since there was no choice but to take it. Rather than merely looking at the bigger paycheck, II evaluated which location was a job and a company that he believes it would be possible to have the rest of his career with, rather than having to move for his career after this point. We looked at the locations and what opportunities were available for the children. We even considered accessibility to family.

In the end, II took the position with a Japanese company in the south. It's not exactly where we lived before. However, it's actually positioned so that it is more centrally located to more of my family. This time, we are intentionally looking towards permanency. Provided the increased income for II is sufficient for our expenses, as we believe it should be, I will be going full-time to finish this second Bachelor's degree this spring and to graduate studies this fall. The only way to safeguard this family from the vulnerability that disrupted our lives this fall is if I have income potential that is not dependent upon II's career and does not require I move. As a nurse practitioner, my career will allow that. While I believe that under normal circumstances my intention is to work part-time, should anything happen to this family, the roles will be reversible and I could work full-time and II could change career paths or even work part-time.

There is some joy at moving nearly home. There is also a lot of sadness. II has already gone and started his job. Having children with significant special needs means every timeline must consider insurance coverage. We have timed my notice at my job to his starting his so that we will transition between health insurance policies without any gap, just as we transitioned when he resigned from his job. While we'll look a bit like what our past was for a few years, in reality we will never go back to that life. I will be home, but the children (safe C) will be public school and I will be a full-time grad student, not a stay at home mother. I'll be available for the children, but when they go to school I will go to work.

If anything, the security that having both my income and my health insurance availability when II was blindsided with his job is something I never want to lose again. I don't believe this new position will come to that. When II took his last job, we both saw some major concerns. We had to have A job and it was never meant to be anything but temporary so we ignored those red flags. None of those exist with this position. However, if it were to happen again, we need me to not dally with my training so we have my work to fall back on for family stability. Even if nothing happens, to get us to a point where the choice to have this large family doesn't start impacting our future finances negatively we need for me to finish my training and get into a career where I am working, even if I remain part-time so I can continue to balance the needs of this family with it.

So, we're going home. II is already there. I am nearly done serving my notice at my employer, and despite the ups and downs going back did answer the question of where I was meant to go in the future. Once I am done with my job, I still have to finish my semester for school. In the midst of that, I'm back to solo parenting and I have to declutter and pack my house. II went with the Japanese company and they don't typically pay for cool relocation packages where people pack your stuff for you. They are paying for all of the actual costs of the move, but we have to put in the labor to get this one accomplished. He could have gone with the other job offer which had a better relocation package (and a bit more money) but he truly felt this position was the better job for him, and the better option for his career. So, in my 30th move of my life, I'll do the labor around the other things that need to be done.

When we get there, I'm hoping we can settle in. My children are asking to be done moving and I have ever intention of giving them that wish. Thanks to his former employment we're in a position where we can even buy a house again, though we would prefer to rent someplace for a year that we could then buy in a year just to get us in an even better financial situation. The kids are terribly sad to leave here. II did look for local jobs. They didn't move fast enough and there aren't nearly as many of them as those which would necessitate a move. No one is sad to leave the New England winter that is already starting to settle into the crevices of life up here.

The one thing I am most sure of in all of this is that I MUST finish my training and get into working. Just having a part-time job and access to healthcare was lifesaving for this family this fall. If I had not been able to provide that, II would have been forced to stay at his old job while looking for a new job and hope and pray that he secured a new position before his boss built a sufficient case to finally fire him. We have children that are totally dependent upon health insurance. At any other point of our lives, we would have had to pass on the severance package just to keep those children safe and secure. Instead, he could take the cash settlement and work full-time searching for a new position. Today, I am thankful for throwing away a paradigm that said I could never contribute anything beyond my womb and my breasts to my family and my partner. I am thankful for the job I must now leave, for the patients who have taught me so much, and the co-workers who have stretched me to be a better person, but also for the ability to provide for my family in a crisis in a tangible way I never imagined before.

Onward to the next season of our lives now.