Monday, January 3, 2011

decisions for a new year

being an adult is a lot harder than I thought.

For instance, this week I need to decide whether or not completing my Master's degree is worthwhile and practical, and if it is feasible. Our financial situation makes it difficult to swing this - something needs to go.

The drastic option:

1. find teaching jobs for one or both of us outside this state, break our lease and utility contracts, withdraw from school, move. This means I probably will not have the opportunity to finish my degree, and I know I'll regret that, even though grad school is the most challenging experience I've had yet. It also means that we could possibly start a family sooner than we thought - something I've wanted my whole life. Is this the door to a dream come true? It's definitely near-instant relief for our fears and struggles. Or is this a foolish decision we would make out of fear? Does this betray a lack of trust in God's promise to provide for our needs? (Is a Master's degree a need? Yes, if we stay in this state... but only if I'm going to actually teach)

The difficult, but possibly viable options:

1. find a better job for my husband. Better = closer, at least the same pay, more normal hours, full time. It would be amazing if this was also in his field.
2. take on a part time job myself in addition to grad school and my assistantship work. I really don't know how that's possible, but I'll try. Perhaps I will be more aggressive at recruiting piano students, and build an income from that. I don't have the time to make a home-based business on a site like etsy possible. That would take too much away from my grad studies.
3. be humble enough to ask, beg, plead for more money to be added to my tuition remission scholarship. I have an appointment to talk about this with the dean of the school on Wednesday.
4. ask our parents for loans. I don't really want to do this, since we already owe them money and we've had to begin payments on my husband's school loans. I also hate the idea of going further into debt.
5. sell stuff. There's some crystal I got for wedding presents that I really don't love. Someone else might... I have some clothes that could go, even though I struggle to get rid of them. See this post as a miniature explanation of my collections. I also have a collection of winter accessories, shoes, jewelry, and craft supplies. I am a skilled knitter, cook, and scrapbooker. Perhaps someone would pay me for this?

Anyway, I feel like I'm having a real crisis. I laid awake for hours last night, I can't focus today, and I'm pretty sure I'll cry if I have to talk to anyone about this.

I really want to finish school. Here's why:

1. The degree allows me to teach permanently in this state, which is as close to a guarantee of income as I can get without actually having a job right now.
2. The degree is helping me to grow personally and musically and giving me the skills to be a better leader, teacher, researcher, learner, and professional.
3. The degree is seen as the culminating point of studies for most people in my field. Those that go on seal their fates as collegiate employees or overqualified high school teachers that districts fear to employ (a higher salary? oh no! next applicant). I would enjoy being a professor if it could be well balanced with having a family. I have yet to meet a female professor whose children are well behaved, well adjusted socially, and generally pleasant to be around.
4. I enjoy preparing a score, learning new music, teaching students, and conducting. Teaching and seeing growth, however, is my primary motivator. I am happiest when I have just spent a half hour as a piano teacher or a vocal coach. I wonder if I will learn enough to inspire and effect greater change in my choristers as well. Past choral students of mine seem to have been encouraged by the changes and growth they've made. I want to do better at this.
5. I have never quit anything except for 3rd grade softball and 12th grade calculus (because my teacher hadn't taught it in the past 6 years and because I knew I didn't need it for my upcoming music education degree). I am not a quitter. I finish what I start, and I do well - my best possible. Withdrawal now would be a huge personal crisis for me. Could that be beneficial? Perhaps, but it's not what I want to choose.
6. Did I mention that I love teaching? I like setting the schedule, organizing the rehearsal, and being responsible for the music education of young people.

I also really want a family. Here's why:

1. I love being at home. It's happy, it's ours, and I get to pick what's in it, where it goes, and what color it is (usually). I don't mind laundry, cooking, or cleaning, though I do like to have help sometimes. I love gardening, working outside, and being with the people I love.
2. I have wanted to be a mommy since I was old enough to hold a dolly. I soon realized that most people don't think the answer to "What do you want to be when you grow up, Linnea?" should be "A Mommy!" but should be something respectable like a teacher, doctor, pastor, physicist, engineer, veterinarian, changetheworldian. Especially with my early-detected "giftedness," I should be something great. I'm pretty sure I disappointed some people by choosing to be a musician, since, of course, they don't need to do any academic work, right? Pardon me while I laugh a bit.
3. I love children. I love finding teachable moments - especially moments to teach about faith, music, and manners. I don't mind tempera paint on my sleeve and spitup on my pants (at least temporarily). Diapers don't scare me, and finding crushed Cheerios in the car seat doesn't bother me. I can handle infant twins, a 3 year old, and a 5 year old all by myself, at the same time. I can make a meal or mix up formula with a baby on my hip. I can plan a meal that's ready in 15 minutes. I can orchestrate bedtime for four. I'm okay with not having a shower, not getting my hair done, and wearing the same clothes twice...or three times.
4. I love my husband. I want to build a family with him that honors God and brings joy both to us and our parents. I want to strengthen the bond that is this marriage, this family unit. There are other ways to do this than having children, granted.
5. I am already 25. I would like to not be 50 when my children are graduating from college so that I can jump for joy at their successes.
6. I am incredibly tired of birth control pills. It's annoying and disruptive to my emotional and physical well-being.
7. It just seems like the right thing for a married Christian woman to do - serve and bring honor to her husband, God, and herself, work hard to earn an income, have children. Read Proverbs 31 and the command to "be fruitful and multiply" if you need to confirm this.

So this is what I'm considering. Pray for me?

And on a lighter note, here's a snowman I made on our one 45 degree January day:


-stephanie- said...

You are a strong and wise woman of God. You can make it through this! And you are certainly not alone in your feelings of frustration and confusion. I read this entire post- beginning to end - and caught myself nodding in agreement with you almost the entire time! (Especially at the part that says something about feeling like you want to cry!)
We have you and Bradley in our prayers. It's certainly difficult to make decisions while one is still in school (aka - not... quite... free... yet!). We love you and want to be here for the two of you! Keep in touch - even if it's just venting and pouring out all the angst! Everyone needs someone to complain together with, I always say! If you're up for it, I'm available to be your complaining/praying/comforting buddy. (o:

Love you lots!

Andy and Kristen said...


I, too, read this from beginning to end and found myself nodding at so many parts because I've been there/am going through similar things too. It's so tough to be in the thick of it and to not be sure what the next step is. I pray that God brings you clarity and some peace.