Saturday, April 02, 2011

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. I was supposed to be better at blogging this week, but I wasn't. It's been a mentally exhausting week. You see, my husband got a new job... Let me back up a moment and fill in those of you who are just tuning in...

I know this post is long, which I consider bad blogging etiquette, so I'll throw in some random photos for entertainment as you read:

Rachel vacuuming. "I do it MYSELF!"

When my husband and I got married in 2000 he worked for a doctor. His job was to fill orders and FedEx Viagra and Propecia to the doctor's online patients. The last day of our honeymoon, the doctor called and said, "I don't really need you anymore." Nice. I was a young bride married to a dead beat, but I loved my dead beat.

Thankfully I had a job as a receptionist, but I didn't make much. We went without hot water and air conditioning my first summer of living in the South. Not the best introduction for a California girl to her new habitat, but I survived and I got pregnant, so obviously our poverty didn't affect our relationship all that much.

Four months after we got married, my husband got a job as a school bus driver. It was super sexy. He loved that job and is very proud of his Commercial Driver's License that he still has. Anyway, it was only part-time and he was in search of full-time work as a software developer.

Not actual school bus he drove and let's not talk about it because I'm in big trouble for never getting a picture of my husband next to his actual beloved school bus.

Finally, nine months after we got married he found some full-time employment and actually made more money than me. Three months after that he got an even better job at a law firm which enabled me to stay home full-time with my newborn Emily. He stuck with that job for 2 1/2 years. It was a good job and they allowed him to work remotely full-time while he worked on his Master's degree in the Northeast for one year. In 2003 he went to work for the rival law firm. He worked there for 5 years until they eliminated his position in October 2008.

George learned to crawl upstairs.  This is our new baby gate. He's not happy about it.

My husband was "self-employed" for one year while he tried to do his own thing and other odd jobs (tech jobs) while we lived off of savings, unemployment checks, 401K, and the money my neighbor offered me for my abundant crop of Better Boy tomatoes. He learned a lot that year, but wasn't successful enough to feed eight mouths. So right after we made our last mortgage payment with the last of the money we had in the bank, he obtained full-time employment doing government contract work. He was quite miserable in that job because of the computer programming language he was using, he wore a tie everyday, and the room he worked in was very cold. It was so cold he would actually wear long underwear to work.

So last February (2010), when a well-known company came to him with a job opportunity, he pounced on it. He flew up for an intense interview in February and fell in love with the company, with the technologies they used, and with the working environment. For some reason the hiring process was very slow.  After much patience, he was offered the job three months later in May. Unfortunately, it was very bad timing. He received the offer the day before my mom suddenly died and, of course, at that time I was in no mental state to make a life changing decision like that. He regretfully declined the offer, mainly because it would require us to move to another state within three months, and we were wise enough to know that it was very unrealistic. It broke his heart to decline it because he knew it meant continuing going to work in a neck tie and long underwear until the next opportunity came along.

Emily put a bunch of jackets scarves and hats on Sarah today which happens to look very similar to what my husband looked like while working at his old job.

About three weeks later the company at which he declined the offer came back to him with a new offer that allowed him nine months to work remotely and up to a year to sell our house and move to the new city and state. He accepted without hesitation. At the time it seemed very feasible to sell our house and move in that time frame.

Well, it took us a while to get the house on the market because we had an extended trip to California planned two weeks after he started his new job mid-July, and it took us a couple weeks to get the house ready after we returned home. But we put it on the market in October with high hopes that if it was meant to be, it would sell and we would move and live happily ever after.

Well, the house did not sell as we had hoped. For some reason people want four bedrooms and not three when they are searching for homes within our square footage range and price range, and they prefer walls that don't have original artwork drawn on them in purple crayon. So when we looked into renting the house or lowering the price to sell as quickly as possible, we soon realized we were going to lose a substantial amount of money. It gave me that sick-to-the-stomach feeling.

We called our mortgage company to see what it would take to short-sell, they gave us the option to do a "deed in lieu of foreclosure" which meant we would hand over the deed to the bank. Those words alone simply didn't sound wise and we felt kind of stuck in a sticky situation. Supposedly, it's not as bad as a foreclosure, but you take a giant hit to your credit, something I've worked hard at maintaining. We also purchased our house with a first and second mortgage, so that further complicated things. And on top of all the ugly words, the time frame that these options would take to complete would put us over the deadline of when we were supposed to move. (Sigh.)

We looked into renting the house out, but that would put us at a deficit each month. We might have been able to absorb the deficit, but it didn't take into account any repairs we might encounter, like a new HVAC unit, or two (we have one for upstairs and one for downstairs). Our house is 13 years old, which is the life span of many expensive appliances. It just made me think of Shelley Long and Tom Hanks in that movie the Money Pit as they look into that hole after the house collapsed. It felt scary and like a potential disaster.

So about two weeks ago, a local company called regarding a job in town. My husband literally gets probably a dozen calls a week regarding jobs all over the country because his resume is on a bunch of online resume sites. We usually ignore them because we can hardly understand the heavy foreign accents of these headhunters and most of the jobs are annoying low paying jobs in high-cost of living cities like New York and San Francisco.

(Funny side note: one company sounded really interested in trying to get my husband to relocate to California. They kept calling multiple times a day. Finally my husband told them he would consider the job if they would provide $60,000 for relocation. They stopped calling.)

But, one day the phone rang and the phone caller was very American and my husband recognized the name of the local company because we had just talked to a guy, that my husband knows, who works there. It wasn't the dream job that my husband fantasizes about (mostly due to technologies used), but it was a nice environment, working with pleasant people, with some fancy benefits like a smart phone. (Now we're talking sexy.) He was a good candidate, they liked him and thought he was smart or something, so they offered him the job.

At this point it was a relief to have another option, because we were approaching the point when my husband was supposed to be working onsite full-time at his current employer. So he asked his current employer if it was possible that he work remotely long term until the house sold. They pretty much said  that they really needed him on site as soon as possible. So as sad as it was, it actually made the decision easier for us. He accepted the new job in town and said, "Adios, Auf Wiedersehen, Arrivederci, Zai Jian." with much sadness to what I think was his third favorite job ever. (#1 is his job as a Rock Star, and #2 was School Bus Driver.)

It was like breaking up with the hot celebrity girlfriend/boyfriend, to go out with the average person you met online or a blind date. It's a risk, but you know it's the right thing to do because you believe through conversation and experience that it's the better match long term. You still love the one you broke up with, but there's more than just good looks and physical attraction to make a relationship last. I'm sure we could've made it work if we had chosen to move, but I feel like we made the right decision. This is home and where we want to be as long as opportunity remains. Again, it was an excruciating decision because nobody wants to break up with the Johnny Depp, Zac Effron, Brad Pitt of jobs, but sometimes it just has to be done. I think is a good time to listen to a little Neil Sedaka right now because breaking up is hard to do:

My husband often uses the analogy of the man standing on his roof in a flood praying for help. A man comes by in a row boat and offers help, but the stranded man declines saying, "No, thank you. God will save me."
Then a man comes by in a motorboat and the man declines with the same reply. Finally, a helicopter comes to save him and the man declines saying, "God will save me." The man drowns and when he gets to heaven he asks God why he didn't save him. God replies, "I sent two boats and a helicopter. What more did you want?"

We've been praying that things would work out with my husband's job situation. We felt like this local job was a rowboat and that we should hop on before the flood waters began to rise more. If we were American Idol contestants I'm sure the judges would say we played it safe. At this point in our lives and in this economy I think safe is good. I look forward to resettling in our current home. The past six months or so, I've felt in limbo, not knowing what the future had in store for us. We have boxes half packed in our hallways and freshly painted walls on which I've avoided hanging pictures. Now I feel in control and can unpack boxes, hang pictures, stock up on food, and sow a garden.

Uh oh. I hope all nine of us fit on that row boat. Maybe we should have waited for the motor boat.

I am suffering a little bit from feelings of buyers remorse. That happens to me a lot whenever I make a big purchase or make a big decision. I'm always wondering "what if" I chose the other route. But, we're moving on. My husband looks forward to this new job and a new challenge. We're going to establish stronger roots in our home town and hopefully having some more native Southern babies. (I'm not pregnant yet, but this reduced stress level should help with that :)


  1. We told our children that what if games never get you anywhere. You cannot predict the outcomes no matter how much you think about it.

  2. your dyson is sexier then mine! :)

  3. My husband James uses that analogy as well, in fact he just said it the other day. He is currently working at a temp company (full time and long term contract assignment, thankfully) but it doesn't pay that much and it certainly doesn't have benefits. We have been praying for a new job to come around for him and have tried to do all that we could to get interviews and get a more solid job. He finally got an interview and a few weeks later they called and offered him the job. It was doing something he had never done before and was making a couple bucks more an hour than his current temp job, but they couldn't guarantee 40 hours a week (only 25-30) and didn't have that great of benefits. We were tempted to take it due to the permanent employment, and the added money would even out what he was making now, but we just couldn't do it because we didn't feel right about it. My husband shared that very same analogy that your husband says and he said he didn't want to be that guy who refuses all the help because he thought God was going to save us. However, I told him that this situation was more like a guy floating by on a piece of driftwood. We were better off saying "No thanks. God will provide something a little more stable." :) Good post. (Sorry for my long comment). :)

  4. Mary, thanks for the comment. Comments like those help a lot :)
    Amber, my Dyson is just a bit younger, which probably makes it sexier.
    Crystal, I love long comments! I hope you get more than driftwood soon :) It sounds like you made the right decision :)