Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Decisions, Decisions

I really hate making decisions.

You thought I was going to say more, didn't you?  Fooled you.

Well, not really.

So, currently, my husband and I have been pondering some decisions about our family.  Off and on, we talk about moving.  My husband is a partial owner (with his mom and his two aunts) of his family's farm.  A couple of years back, he and I went out there for a Czech celebration in the town and looked through the museum that contained a lot of his family's history and I was able to see the two properties that make up the farm.  His grandfather sold off the piece of land that contained the farmhouse, but a neighbor continues to farm the land for them.  At the time we were out to visit, the current occupants of the farmhouse were trying to sell the house and move out of state.  We started talking then about what it would be like to move out to the old farmhouse.  At that time, it was sort of a "what if" or "wouldn't it be nice" or "someday" kind of discussion.  We tabled it and moved on.  At the time, the kids weren't totally opposed to it when they heard that they might be able to have a horse or other farm animals.

There are several reasons why this topic has come back up lately.  For one, we know that my husband cannot continue to be a metropolitan paramedic until retirement.  The job is hard on the body and we can't conceive of him jumping in and out of an ambulance and running around and lifting patients, etc. when he is 60+. So, we began to think of other options.  He could use the bridge program to become a nurse, but that will be time and cost intensive.  The other idea was to move to the country and be a rural EMS worker because there would be a lot less activity than he gets in an average day in the big city of Kansas City, Missouri.

The other reason this has come up is because of the issues we have been having with the children.  Would it be more beneficial to them to move out to the country and to attend a smaller rural school?  Would I worry about them less if the "village" helps to look after them?  I know that they can get into just as much trouble in the country or a small town as in a large city, but I think I could give them more freedom, there would be less dangers, life would be slower, secrets would not stay secret, etc.  Would peace and quiet and a slower lifestyle be beneficial to Billy?  Would the girls have more opportunities to have close friends while I can know their parents, giving them more opportunities to spend time with friends?  Would a simpler, quieter life force us to spend more time on the most important things: God, family, and friends?  There are days when I very much envy the lifestyle of the Amish.  I know that's idealistic because I seriously doubt I would enjoy cooking all day from scratch, the cleaning, the sewing, the gardening, all the hard work.  But, I sometimes regret the technology we have and long for the simpler life.

Another reason may be selfish, but as the old saying goes, "if mom ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!"  Granted, I have never been a country girl.  I embrace a lot of country girl ideals, but the fact of the matter is that I was born in the city and have lived in the city or suburbs all my life.  I don't know any other way.  That made me wary, at first.  Could I cope with being far away from the nearest store, mall, or fast food restaurant?  I like convenience.  I like being able to run somewhere "real quick."  I hate having to drive too far to find what I am looking for.  I am a forgetful person and I have lost count of how many times I have gone grocery shopping, only to realize I have forgotten items and had to make a return trip.  And while I have previously been a go-getter with plenty of energy, I am getting older and have gained weight and have plenty of aches and pains.  I no longer have the energy I did.  I am trying to lose weight to regain the energy, but my fear is that it is gone forever.  I do not like hard labor.  I am tired.

But, because I am tired, I sometimes long for the peace and quiet of a rural setting.  I have been recently grappling with the idea that I am seriously screwed up.  I joke about being crazy, but the truth is that I have some very real mental and emotional issues.  Some days, I find the world so overwhelming, I want to retreat.  While isolation may seem depressive and the wrong way to deal with things, I am beginning to think that it is the only way I can cope with life and the world.  Some days it is too much to deal with.  Overload is not fun for me.  I am beginning to wonder if some isolation would be beneficial to my mental and emotional health.  Would I be a better wife and mother if I had some measure of peace?

However, the downsides to a possible move are many.  While I don't think that Billy or Kimberly would mind the move terribly much, Arrena has voiced violent opposition to this plan.  She does not want to leave her friends.  Having faced the same situation when I was a teenager, I can totally relate and sympathize.  I was a brat and refused to let my mom move.  However, I have learned that the friends and boyfriends that I was loathe to leave behind are nowhere to be found now.  I am reluctant to move the kids again, though.  They have had enough stress and trauma and moving around in their lives that I would hate to uproot them again and thrust them in a totally new and unfamiliar environment.  I had hoped that this would be our last move and the kids could call Raytown/Kansas City their home forever and would stay at their current schools throughout.  However, they are not the first kids to ever have to move around.  And compared to some, have hardly moved around at all.  My mom's family moved around a lot in search of work.  She attended 13 schools in her lifetime.  Military families do it all the time.  So, I am sure they would survive, though there might be a good measure of pouting for a while.

I also don't want to leave my house.  While I love looking at different houses and imagining dream homes, I am attached to this house.  We added on to this house just 3 years ago and I was able to get everything I wanted in the add-on.  Our bedroom is oversized to allow for a couch and a TV (though sometimes that makes me feel like I am isolating myself from my kids).  We have a jacuzzi tub in the bathroom along with a separate shower stall with dual shower heads.  We had a second washer/drier hookup installed, so we could both keep our washers and driers and be able to wash laundry in half the time.  I was able to pick out the color and the flooring just the way I like it.  I was able to fulfill a lifelong dream of painting a sky/cloud scene on my bedroom wall, which makes my room an extremely peaceful place for me. And even in the rest of the house, I have made some improvements to make it "our home" such as painting Billy's room Spiderman colors, and doing a pink and purple cowgirl theme in the girls' room.  While I know we could remodel and make a new house "our home," I just hate the thought of giving up this space that I and my husband designed just for us.

I also don't relish the thought of leaving my church family or my job.  While I would love to again be a stay-at-home mom or just a photographer on my own terms, I do love my job taking newborn photos at the hospital.

While one of the points in favor of moving would be that the cost of living would be lower and we could better afford our bills, moving in itself is an expensive undertaking.  It costs a lot to be in transition on selling a house, buying a new house, moving from one job to another, moving trucks, trips back and forth, fixing things to make the current house attractive to buyers or fixing things to make the new home livable, etc.

Then there's always the dilemma of WHERE to move.  Is the family farmhouse still available?  If not, would it be silly to move to the area anyway?  Where can Scott find a job?  And what's the distance in relation to where the kids' dad lives because you can't be too close or too far away?  Or what about the distance to our family, who we'd like to visit and have come visit us?  It might be fun to buy his Aunt's trailer in Branson, but would our growing family have enough space in a trailer?  It would be awesome to live right on the lake, but there would be a lot of work to be done to make it livable year-round.  And I'm assuming the cost of living in Branson would be higher due to the tourist industry.

One of my best friends is moving to a small town in northern Kansas and I am mourning that loss.  We even talked about Scott getting a job with the company that hired her husband, brother, and brother-in-law.  But, that would be a total change of job field for Scott, which is a major life change.  And with her sister and brother living nearby, it might be silly of us to follow her when her time will obviously be divided.  The draw for Scott to following them is that the company and the community sounds very faith-based.

The other decision we have been weighing briefly was sending the kids to a Christian school.  I was raised in public schools and did just fine.  Scott spent his whole life in Christian schools, so we have different backgrounds.  And we have different views.  I wrote a paper about this in college, stating in essence, that in a perfect world, the choice of education would be based on each individual child as each child is different and will learn and grow differently in different environments.  However, it isn't necessarily feasible to have one child in public school, one in Christian school, and one being home-schooled.

We started discussing this because of the issues with the children.  Both girls have been breaking the rules and having boyfriends behind our backs, sometimes lying and covering up their deception.  Both girls have been having attitude problems, Kimberly getting into trouble for mouthing off to her teacher.  Billy is obviously struggling at school.  I have been concerned about Arrena's school since I heard there was a rape there during school hours two years ago.  And there is the friend issue.  Arrena believes that Kimberly's friends are bad influences on her and tells us this all the time.  And based on some of the things Kimberly was hearing at school and Google-ing to find out what it meant, I am inclined to agree with her.  Arrena gets so angry when we bring this up, but she told me at one point that her friends were telling her that her mom would never know if she had a boyfriend, so she should just go ahead and have one.  She says not all of her friends said this and it was an isolated incident that we shouldn't judge her friends on.  But, obviously there is some concern about the influence on them.  With all of the difficulties our family has had, we have been seeking a Christian counselor to work with us, that understands our values.  So, the same could be argued about the kids' education.

I am not one that believes sending them to a Christian school will solve all their problems.  I know there are bad kids in private school too.  I also believe that their primary education should come from home because if it isn't taught and modeled at home, there is little the school can do.  The teachers cannot raise our children.  However, I sometimes think it might be nice to have that reinforcement, to have them being taught the Bible in school, to have friends and teachers that share their faith.

One of the downsides, again, is taking them away from what they have grown accustomed to.  Again, I think Kimberly and Billy would do okay with it, but Arrena would fight and struggle with starting over somewhere.  But, it wouldn't be like moving far away.  She could still see her friends, just after school not during school.  The biggest drawback is the cost.  It is so expensive that there is really no way we could afford it.  We could try to get financial aid and I have heard some about getting government funding to be able to choose private education over public education, since, as taxpayers, we pay for the public school system.  But, it would boil down to Scott having to work a LOT of extra shifts, which is hard when his shifts are 24 hours.  Or it would entail him going to school to be a nurse to make more money, which initially costs more money and takes a while to complete.  It seems like it's impossible, but we know that nothing is impossible.

While Arrena totally flew off the handle when she caught wind of some of these decisions, without hearing the reasoning or understanding that it was simply TALKING, not a done deal by far, I know that these things may never come to fruition and if they did would be a while down the road.  We will pray for God's guidance.  If He leads us to move or send the kids to a Christian school, then by all means, we will follow.  But, if the doors remain shut, then it's a non-issue.  My thought at this point would be for Scott to put out some feelers, some resumes, for us to research and look around, be informed and then see what God does!

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