He got another call this week.
I don’t know why I’m surprised. Despite how many times he has explained to me how good he is at his job, and as much as I don’t understand half of the skills listed on his resume, I still stubbornly think of myself as the brains of our relationship. And that’s not to belittle his intelligence at all… he’s wicked smart, otherwise I wouldn’t have married him. But I was always better at “school stuff,” whereas he’s better at common sense, life experience stuff. It’s always nice to have both in a marriage to help balance each other out.
And yet, here I am with my fancy, oppressively expensive liberal arts degree and the student loan debt that goes with it, and I have to fight for any job I’m lucky enough to get. Meanwhile, my community college educated husband is constantly being contacted by recruiters, even when he’s not actively job-hunting. I’ll admit, it makes me a little jealous. That has to be SO validating.
Most of these jobs require relocation. Some are easy to turn down —Detroit. Cleveland. But then there was one earlier this week, in Seattle.
Eric is in the tech industry, so any jobs on the west coast are guaranteed to pay significantly more. One of my non-negotiable stipulations for even entertaining the idea of a cross-country move is that I must be able to stay home with the kids (as much for practicality as anything else… I shudder to think what two kids in daycare would cost in Seattle. YIKES.) In other words… the salary would need to be what we make combined, or ideally more than that, especially since our cost of living would go up considerably.
It’s also understood that moving that far from home would be temporary. It would be the means to an end. On one hand, we’d want the life experience of actually living in another state. But also, it would help to catapult Eric’s career to the next level, and would then open up more positions here at home once we returned. We’d also try to do it all on a budget, and use any extra money to pay down our debt, therefore putting ourselves in a much better position once we did come back.
But it would take years.
It’s always fun when he first gets these calls. I dreamily Google “Seattle family activities,” start looking at apartments and picturing our stuff in them, imagine our once-in-a-lifetime cross country road trip to get there. When he mentions the salary range, I imagine my eyes light up with flashing gold dollar signs, like a retro cartoon character. Apparently, all it takes to put us in a new tax bracket is a cross country move.
Plus, of course, my babies. I could spend all day every day with my beloved children, and I would no longer miss out on the largest chunk of their weekdays. My life would be more awesome than it already is, and as I’ve mentioned before, it’s pretty damn great right now.
Whenever he gets these recruiter calls, I always say, “This is the problem with having a close family. If we had shitty parents and awful siblings, decisions like this would be so easy.”
And it’s true. It would also be easier if, say, we were already spread out all over the place. If brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and cousins lived hours or plane rides away from each other. But the fact is, every member of our extended family on both sides lives within an hour of one another. As for immediate family, with the exception of my brother (who is about an hour away), we’re all situated in a 5 mile radius. Five. Miles. With the right amount of effort, that’s walking distance.
Moving to Seattle would mean no more Saturdays sitting poolside with the Harding clan, keeping an eye on all the kids splashing joyfully in the shallow end and taking turns putting our babies down for naps in the communal crib. It would mean no more Sunday dinners with the Hurds, which often includes marshmallow roasting in the fire pit after the sun goes down.
We’d miss the craziness of Easter at my aunt’s house and the Christmas morning jammie party at Eric’s sister’s house. If we needed to borrow tools or trucks or a cup of sugar, we couldn’t just run down the street to our choice of family member. Our trusted babysitters would go from plentiful to none.
Imagining Molly growing up without her cousins makes me want to cry. She wouldn’t go on daily park outings with her Nana. We’d make other friends, sure, and she and I would have more quality time together. But those potential friends are still strangers. When I think of what we’d leave behind, I already know what I’m missing.
We contemplated moving before we had children. Back when we were in the throes of infertility, with no end in sight, I was desperate for a change of scenery. We took a trip to Denver in hopes of getting a feel for the area, to see if it would work for us long term. Even then, without the added complication of kids growing up without family, the thought of missing out on everything felt physically painful.
Eric claims that I’m more sentimental than he is. That I’m the one holding us back. But in reality, I think he’s just as bad, but maybe not willing to admit it. He claims his parents would come visit, and I’m sure they would, but it’s not the same. To go from seeing our families weekly to seeing them twice a year, if we’re lucky, is a huge change.
When we were first married, we rented an apartment in a charmingly quaint city 25 minutes west of where we grew up. We still attended plenty of family events, but it wasn’t quite the same. The drive was annoying. We missed out on casual weekend get-togethers because we didn’t feel like driving there and back. Even though we were close, we felt too far away. We were both relieved that we had opted to rent and not buy, and vowed that our home would be in Nazareth. When we did start house hunting the following year, we had one requirement for our realtor: 18064 zip code only. No surrounding neighborhoods (even the cheaper ones). We wanted Nazareth. Our home.
If it takes a village to raise a child, then we are doing just fine where we are. Our village is full of loving relatives who are all just around the corner. Molly knows them by name, Liam knows them by sight. I feel at home in every single one of their houses. I love our village more than words can describe.
But am I limiting our potential by stubbornly staying put? Am I keeping us from greater things? It’s about the money, clearly, but it’s more than just that. How about adventure? How about excitement? Is my obsession with family ties actually hindering my ability to experience the vast richness this world has to offer? These are the questions.
So clearly I’m torn. Granted, there are plenty of what-ifs… It’s not like he has a job offer, just the theory of one. But if it came down to it, could we go? Could we really live that far from our family, even if it’s only for a few years? My head says yes and my heart says no. My bank account says yes and my emotions say no.
I don’t know the right answer. Maybe there is no right, no wrong… each side has pros and cons. What I do know is that no matter what happens, the future looks bright.
And maybe he really is the smart one. (Dammit.)