Sunday, January 01, 2012

Wish We Could Just Pray

Recently I had dinner with a devout Christian who I have admired from afar for years: Crystal Paine, author of the blog Money Saving Mom. I've interviewed her before and she has featured one of my guest posts on her blog, and despite how different we are, we really like one another.
During our dinner, she mentioned that, like all parents but especially we self-employed moms, she had trouble balancing work and family and deciding how much time to spend on each.
"But I know God wants me to be doing this right now," she said.

I'm an atheist, and a lot of other atheists I know would respond to that statement with an eye roll. Me? I felt sincere envy.

See -- for those few remaining readers here who don't know us IRL -- we've got some crazy decisions looming in our lives right now. Major, unexpected life changes. And I so wish I believed that we could pray about it all and get some direction from on high about what to do.

I might have mentioned that I was laid off from my job last summer. This was disappointing, but not a huge deal financially, since my job had been part time and we weren't depending on that income to pay our bills. I immediately started building my a blog, Frugalistic Mom, and hoped to soon be earning enough to replace my Tribune paychecks.

But on Dec. 2, while I was typing away on Frugalistic Mom, Epu called me from work to say that most of his company had just been laid off.


I immediately Facebooked a friend in a similar situation and typed the F-word many times.

Thank you, friend, for listening to my digital freak out.

I assumed, in this economy, that it would be weeks or months before Epu would be able to line up any job interviews. Although I had been looking around for job opportunities since my lay-off, I got more aggressive in my own search.

To my surprise, Epu lined up two multi-hour interviews during his first week of unemployment.

During his second week, he flew across the country to an in-person interview.

Across the country.

Epu makes video games. Since we moved to Chicago in 2006, the game developer scene here has shriveled. When we moved, Electronic Arts had a big studio in the Loop which is now closed. Midway was still in business.

Now, there are just a few other companies in town, mostly small. So if he's going to get another full-time job, he's looking at either scoring a slot at one of these smaller firms, getting a job outside the game industry, or moving.

Or, if I'm able to score a really good full-time job, he could do what I've been doing -- take care of the kids and pursue an independent project on a part-time basis. What with the world of cell phone games, this is a realistic and tempting prospect for him.

After we both had some promising interviews, this Longest Holiday Week Ever descended upon us. Do you know how long the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve feels when you are waiting for job offers? Do you know how weird it feels to go to holiday parties and have no answers for all your sincerely well-wishing friends and family who want to know if you're going to leave them and rip your adorable children out of their grandparental or friendly embrace?

Yeah. We had a lovely Christmas, and we went to a fun New Year's Eve party last night, but the days and hours between parties drag on as we run all the potential scenarios in our heads right now.

I love adventure and traveling to new places. And yet, our whole family is happy where we are right now. We've spent the past four years putting down roots in a community we love and are finally in a place where we have a local network we can count on for friendship and support. This was not easy to build.

We moved to our town in 2007, with a preschooler and a newborn. I spent the first 2 or 3 years here mostly getting settled -- well, that and having babies. It's only been since Toth was born that I've been able to rev up my career again. And now that I finally got to a place where I can focus on building a part-time, at-home career on my terms, I'm faced with either going to work full-time (albeit possibly at a really cool job) or starting over and spending another year or so doing nothing but getting settled in a new community.

And that's just me. The kids are upset at the prospect of moving, our parents don't want to lose the opportunity to see their grandkids on a regular basis, even our babysitter has been depressed since we had to let her go. Epu is faced with making some really huge career and family choices that might just contradict one another.

So we wish there was someone -- God, village elder, Siri, anyone -- who would just tell us what to do.

Despite all this angst, I have to admit that I do feel lucky. I'm so impressed with Epu over the enthusiasm that companies are showing for him. I'm grateful for some very interesting prospects that have cropped up in my own career -- prospects that I would not have been pushed to investigate had this unexpected situation not come up. I'm so glad that we were able to save some money while I was working, even if we didn't really want to spend it all on living expenses.

This will all work out. And despite the agony of waiting, it's exciting too to wonder what is going to happen next.

Happy New Year, guys. I hope we all make good decisions in 2012, with or without divine guidance.


Sara said...

I don't have any wise words for you, so I'll offer what I can: hugs, support, and love. Let me know if you ever need to talk.

margaret said...

Wow, so much on your minds, and you put it all so well. Two enormously talented people such as you and Epu will no doubt find the right path. Maybe you're already doing it, but the pros and cons tally up so much better on paper. I wish I could hand you the big fat book offer you so richly (pun intended!) deserve, and I wish the techie firms could come up with more telecommuting options for Epu. Hey, maybe they still will. Good luck with everything; we're feeling for you. And hey, if you do end up on the West Coast again or even—mais oui!—Montreal, we'll come visit to cheer you up.