March 17, 2012

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men Don't Always Go Awry

Yes, this is how our Wednesday was supposed to go.
I had a master plan.  Let's face it, I always have a master plan.

36 hours before M proposed to me
When I was dating M, my master plan was that we would get married, I would finish school, and then we would have some kids.  Sometime in there, he would get his P.E. stamp, and we would buy a house in one of the near, city-like suburbs.  Like Oak Park or Evanston.

Starting the day after M and I got engaged (details here), I started developing a new master plan.  It was very simple.  I would keep my job.  M would keep his job.  I would stay in school.  M and I would get married and everything would be just fine.

Starting shortly after our wedding, I began to formulate a new master plan.  M would be just fine, and then we would have babies.  One at a time.  Starting pretty much right away.  M would get his P.E. stamp, I would stay at home with the babies and then start going back to school part time.  I would go back to work when the last monkey started at pre-school.

As you can tell, things kept changing, and rendering my grand master plan kind of useless.

So of course, when we were pregnant with DD and SI, buying a condo and moving in the incredibly bad economy, M lost his job.  And then decided to go to grad school while he waited and waited and waited for something else to come along.

Not the plan for M to be a stay-at-home dad, but he rocked it.
And I began to live life without a plan, because really I had no idea how things were going to go.

After all, ideally M would go back to work.  His prospects would be better when the economy had a few years to turn around, and he would be jumping into it when the time was (hopefully) right and he had a Master's and maybe even his P.E. to add to his resumé.  And maybe, just maybe, I'd have finished school too.  Maybe, just maybe, after a few years we could reassess... we could both start working for much much much more money, and then we could start planning again.

...and then we decided to have another baby.

Believe it or not, I had a master plan.  We would get pregnant right around the girl's second birthday, we would be due in the middle of the summer- after we had both graduated.  I would take the summer off, and start working part time in the fall.  The girls would go to preschool, and the new baby and I would telecommute from home most days.  M would get a really good job, one that valued his new experience in management and his continued education, and support him getting his P.E., for which they would pay even more.  Our childcare costs would plummet.  Our income would soar.  We would go back to looking for that house with a yard in the city-like suburbs.  Life would suddenly be... easier.  We might even get that dog I've always wanted.

But the best laid plans of mice and men...

I was not supposed to be pregnant in this picture.
First of all, we got pregnant early.  Rather than being due in July, I'm due at the very beginning of June.  It's possible that I'll pop in May.  You know, the same month as my graduation.  That's a little nerve wracking.

Then there was the sudden departure of Our Mary Poppins, resulting in the need for me to drop an essential requirement from my fall semester.  So now I also have to take a summer class.

Then there was the fact that, despite just going about it the way humans have for millennia and only being pregnant with one child, I'm having a pregnancy that is endlessly more complicated than my first.

And then, the final problem.  My children are one month too young for the cutoff for preschool this fall.

Well, for every preschool but one.

It's expensive, too.  But it is amazing.  And amazing, expensive private schools have a selective kind of a process.  So it was no guarantee that our kids would get in.

Just as there was no guarantee that I would find that telecommuting, part time job.

83 degrees in Chicago on March 14?  Really?
Or that M would find an employer that valued him.

Or that I would be able to finish my summer class.

But fate is funny.  I most often feel that M and I are being screwed with by the universe.  One minute, our lives revolve entirely around M's survival.  What feels like the next minute, we have two perfectly beautiful, healthy, incredible little girls.  The easiest babies I've ever known.

One minute, we're relying on Congress to keep passing extensions of unemployment benefits so that we can continue to pay for our modest home.  The next, M is working a job with tons of overtime that still accommodates his Master's classes.

So our last several months have been filled with dread.  Would the girls be able to go to preschool?  Would M find work in his field?  Would I be able to find that perfect post-graduation job?  Would Baby X cooperate with my educational needs?  And would the school work around my potentially dropping a baby in the middle of summer session?

And suddenly...

Yes- this is how we're spending March.
M has a temp job with a huge and incredibly well respected agency, that has just decided to renew his contract until mid-June- he's building super-talls in Saudi Arabia, I think.  Even if the firm doesn't decide to hire him on full time after that, he will be incredibly well positioned to get a job with almost any company that could invest in an engineer.  What with the turnaround in the building market, more firms are in that position.  He's in great shape for that new dream job.

I've befriended the acting head of the Spanish department at school, who is more than happy to work with me to get me through my summer Spanish course- perhaps in ONE MONTH before Baby X gets here (if she cooperates).  If she gets here early, I'll be able to take my last Spanish class a month after Baby X arrives.

I've tentatively been offered a part-time job in my field starting in November, when Baby X is five or six months old, that would allow for some telecommuting, but has a day care right next door.

...and the girls have been accepted to preschool.

 Now, of course, something is bound to go wrong.  Something has to go wrong, right?  This is all too... convenient.

Today, this is how it feels to be alive.
So we'll see.  My grand plan might not be a bust this time around.  It's complicated, but it's not unreasonable.  Things are coming together, falling into place.  Potty training is even still going great.

It's hard to feel too worried about everything collapsing around us today.  After all, it's 86 degrees and sunny outside, on St. Patrick's Day in Chicago.

Sometimes... life just feels pretty darn good.


  1. Yes life is good. Sometimes life takes us on a journey but we always get to our destination!

  2. I kept holding my breath for you guys throughout your post. I know how you feel - we were doing great. I was the senior partner of a boutique real estate law firm and DH was a field superintendent for a large international heavy construction company. Had more money than we knew what to do with. Then Feb 2007 the real estate mortgage industry tanked. My practice went from booming to barely making it. Another hammer fell Oct 2010 when my DH suddenly got laid off. We survived on our savings and the meager unemployment checks.
    But, DH got a fantastic job in Dec 2011 and we are finally starting to turn around.
    I look back on all of this and what I remember isn't the bad times, but the summmer we got to spend with the boys all together as a family. Kids are young once and you can't get the time back.
    Breathe and know everything will be ok.
    p.s. my husband never got his P.E. stamp lol

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