Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Musings on the Future

I'm in this really weird place right now. It's like I have to figure out the rest of my life (I know, most people do this in college or in their 20s - well I wasted both those eras goofing off). And I don't know what I want to do. How can I see that far ahead?

So I have this ordination process to start. But I also have school. I enjoy the latter a great deal, and lots of people think I should do more school after this. But how does that affect the ordination thing? I have this job at USC, but if I could get an internship then maybe just maybe I could still graduate next summer. But do I even want to do that? Will I be ready this year to figure out what's next? To apply to PhD programs? I don't even know where to go. I think I want to go to Britain but I have to find someone there to study with. It just seems logical to go to the center of Anglican history if I'm to study liturgy. But then I get these wacky ideas that I want to travel the world documenting rituals. Yeah, when my big grant comes through.

Well see the real reason I'm thinking about this is because the whole baby yen has started. I turned 31 two months ago and it was the weirdest thing. It just hit me super hard. And I was never one to want children - most of my friends and family will attest to that. But now I think I do. And I want to adopt and give birth.

So here's my problem. I am 31. I have at least 1, more likely 2 years of school left. While in school, I have the required crap health insurance that doesn't cover any kind of pregnancy stuff. I would so rather wait until I have good health insurance to have a baby - I mean, I want to be able to have whatever I need done and not be stressing the whole time about cost. But I am at least 2 years away from a job (probably an additional 4 on top of that for phd). J is not going on the job market until 2008 (until then he's an adjunct, the temps of the academic world - all the work, none of the benefits). By the time one of us has a real job again, I will be 33-37. And having a kid will be very hard. I mean, it's not the end of the world if we can't have a baby and just adopt instead. I just feel like I'm going to have to have my life much more in order to qualify for adoption!

It's so annoying, this situation I've put myself in. I should have been doing all this life organizing in my 20s. I'm supposed to be stable by now, right?

See, I don't feel like I need to have all my life figured out before I can have a baby. But it would be really nice to at least have steady income. And health insurance. And a house. But that ain't never gonna happen. Still, a room for the child would be nice - in our current setup, baby sleeps in the closet. Though J tells me that having a baby's room is a just a big excuse to buy a bunch of junk you don't need, starting you down the road to turning the poor child into a rampant materialist. Yes, he wants to put our children in potato sacks. Or at the very least, nothing with Elmo on it will ever enter this house.

But we simply have to use bedroom #2 for an office. There's no other place for all these books and the computers. Oh, geez. We've chosen our jobs over children. That sucks. But it doesn't. I love what I'm doing so much. And I never wanted kids before. Maybe this thing will pass.

But I'm so scared that I'm going to put it off too long. I don't think I want to deal with fertility stuff. So I'm really running out of time. And there's so much to do before I feel ready to be a mommy. Bleh. I wish I was still blissfully hating kids.

Anyway, this is a much more personal, diary-like post today, isn't it? Well I'm sorry. Systematic theology hardly provides much excitement. And the rest of my time not studying is spent watching Six Feet Under season 5 right now. Oh, and Cars, which was excellent. Very funny.

Oh, lots of you people are academic types, who I assume have gone through "dry" spells in the ol' financial situation. We're between terms at the moment and won't have income for a couple months. Anyone have an idea how to make some money quick? Or a good way to borrow for a couple months? Normally we're all set for these spells but somehow the savings are a bit more depleted than I'd like. I didn't get enough loan for the summer to even cover my 2 classes (I couldn't even afford a full load!), so I can't live off any student loan money. At the moment we're considering transferring credit card balances to put off paying them for a few months, or pulling out of the retirement savings (J's very against that, and I do see his point), or just paying the stupid credit card fees (we've never carried a balance). I dunno. Anybody in this area who needs a house or dog or cat sitter, I'm all yours and I have excellent references! :)


JTB said...

Systematic theology doesn't provide much excitement??? Aw, you're killing me!

Now that I've been a mom for 13 days, and just beginning dissertation phase of the old PhD...we're still in our one-bedroom apartment, and J is right about not needing an extra room for the baby. We bought a Co-sleeper crib that attaches to the bed, and a changing table, and moved a couple bookcases worth of books to storage to make space for them, and that was that. The bedroom still serves as my workspace as well. And amazingly, it works fine. (So far.)

Also--my advisor's response when I first told him I was pregnant was, "there will never be a better time."

And you can do ordination and PhD--my husband is currently...

So I'm just saying, all your options are open. That, I'm sure, doesn't make deciding what to do any easier, but you're not forced to one thing or another. And nothing is mutually exclusive.

Down with Elmo!

JTB said...

PS--Brent and I used to substitute teach while working on our master's at ACU. It may be more complicated in CA but subbing was a flexible and yet dependable gig. we stuck with high school--a lot of good study time, usually, as well.

Anonymous said...

Agreed with jtb that you don't need an extra bedroom for a baby. The best advice friends of mine once gave when we were discussing when to try was that there is no "right" time -- you just have to do it. (I was 35 when we had our son.)

We had a little dressing room/hallway (about 4 x 7 ft) and bought one of those little portable cribs (about 2/3 the size of a full crib but plenty big enough) and one of those "storage systems" (elfa?) with wire drawers and a plastic table top which we used as a changing table. That was sufficient for 2 1/2 years, when we moved to a slightly larger apartment and he got a bedroom.

When he was born, I was a temp word processor and my husband a freelance musician. We did fine. Son is now 16, and through his life I've finished an undergraduate degree and gone to law school. I often say that a 900 sq. ft. apartment is more space for three people than most people in the world have. I just think you need a lot less room than our culture would make one believe. And we really need a lot fewer baby things than the culture will try to sell you. And it is enough.

But it's a hard decision you're facing, and at just about the time I began to face the same longings. My prayers are with you as you try to discern the right choices.

Delia Christina said...

when i was in grad school and didn't have a grant or teaching to tide me over the summer i fell back on what i did to pay for my books in college - i became an office wench for another department during the summer. admin work, while less than scintillating, paid the bills.

(and padded my resume when i finally left the academy.)

Anonymous said...

I think that all you need to do is figure out what you want to do for now. Figuring out what you want to do later can come later.

Marshall Scott said...

You know, like everything else - and much more than most things - you need to pray about this, regularly. Being a parent is also a vocational question. What's your sense of call?

Other posters are correct: babies and grad school are not mutually exclusive, and there will never be a perfect time. I was born while my father was in grad school. He was almost late for my birth because, he said, he had a sample in a test furnace and had to be in the lab. (This, of course, had nothing to do with my father's great aversion to hospitals or anyone else's pain.) Indeed, it has its benefits. The story is told that when I was small no one could afford a babysitter, so we were all brought to parties, and as we finally collapsed we were laid out together on one bed like cord wood.

Now, this has its consequences - the embarassment of a classmate in the 9th grade whom I barely knew proclaiming long and loud that she and I had slept together when we were 5 (literally true, but hardly sensational, unless one is a young adolescent), and my recognition only in my 20's that I could be an adult without a PhD - but I think we who were those children all survived. We weren't dull, but we all survived.

So, you have an idea that it can be done. Pray about what you're both called to; and remember, too, that at some point God may take the whole question out of your hands....

Stasi said...

Yes, that is my usual way of doing things, but unfortunately when you're in school you don't really have the luxury because you have to figure out what you're taking way in advance, then figure out what's being offered that fills the rest of your requirements, and so on and so forth. Plus, if I keep putting off having a baby then my body will rebel. I have to start thinking about that before I plan to do it so I can lose weight, get health insurance, and go off the pill. See? Not everything can be put off until a later day. That's why I'm so frustrated. I SO prefer living in the moment. But not everything can be done spontaneously. (although of course babies are made spontaneously every day!)

Thanks so much to all for the stories and encouragement. I really appreciate hearing from you moms. JTB in particular - we have a scary similar life, and I'm glad you're going ahead of me to blaze the trail. And you seem great! So that's very encouraging.

Sadly, the California requirements for subbing involve taking a big test, and even though it's not difficult I'd still have to study, and by the time I do that and wait for the next test to come around it would probably be a moot point. We're only without income until about the end of August. It's just a couple months.

And to Marshall...Oh, I wish God would take it out of my hands! That's always happened before. I've never looked for a job in my life - they always land in my lap. So hopefully a job, or a phd program, or a baby, will come in for a landing, and I won't have to make any decisions! :)

God knows I hate them and has always been quite gracious about it.

Bro. Bartleby said...

Choices. How many in the world have choices? Purchase some of those styrofoam coffee cups, the large size, white, then get a packet of sunflower seeds, the giant variety. Ballpoint pen in hand, pen each life choice or option on each white cup. Five, ten, twenty ... as many cups as you have life choices. Oh yeah, gather some good soil. Fill each cup with soil, then read aloud the life choice you penned on the cup, say a prayer about that, and only that, choice, then with eyes closed, pick one seed from the pile of sunflower seeds, then plant it in the soil in the cup. Do the same with all cups. Find a nice sunny place for the cups, and give them equal treatment, and equal watering. Maybe, daily randomly shuffle the cups about. All well and good. Now observe the seeds sprouting into life, reaching for the sun, and daily observe which sunflowers show the most growth. After 30 days, your life choices will be made.

Anonymous said...

On the health insurance thing, I know all too well that our current system stinks.

But the powers-that-are have figured out that good prenatal care is more than just a good idea. Call the local office of the human services department and find out what the income limits are for MediCal maternity services (family of 3 ... the fetus counts as a family member in this case). You may qualify.