So now that the ominous cloud of the working-mom-conflict that hung over my head had burst and poured out the most liberating of rains, we had to tackle the next hurdle to preparing for baby-to-be: we would be needing more room, all while going down to one salary. I may not be a math teacher, but I know that doesn't add up. Time to think outside-of-the-box. Fortunately we had some time over the school break at Christmas to sit down and work out all the options. Here's what we came up with:
1. Greg keeps his job, with the potential of landing a significant promotion.
2. Greg goes into business for himself as an educational consultant (based on a plan that had been rolling around in his head for a while).
3. I would resign from my teaching position, but offer home day-care services to my current place of employment.
4. (The "if-everything-else-fails" plan): Give our resumes to a teacher-placement-agency seeking a suitable boarding school and see where we land on the map. .
Then we got to work. We calculated potential budgets, and imagined the best and worst case outcomes for each option. We contacted real estate agents, and even visited some houses. Buying, renting, all options were on the table. I spoke with the head of school regarding a home day care, and she gave me the thumbs-up to start planning. I organized a small committee of young working moms who might benefit from the service. Greg continued to develop his business plan and was one step away from naming it as an LLC. We were praying and working hard in order to give our family a decent home. Certainly God would reward our efforts...
And then the first amazing thing happened: all our plans fell flat. We finally admitted that even if Greg stayed at his current place of employment and earned a promotion, there would be no way we could afford a bigger place on his salary alone. The day-care plans started to fizzle when we had trouble finding a large enough place, and slowly my colleagues with kids started to announce plans that eliminated their need for a home day care. Greg's business idea began to grow, but with it we started to realize just how much time it would take for it to be profitable, and certainly a highly stressful situation with three little ones. And with all options, all the doors to a bigger place were bolted shut. The houses and apartments we saw were too expensive, too small, too much work....and the whole process was becoming too frustrating.
I struggled to find comfort and peace in our predicament. If we were open to life, why would God not help us find adequate housing for that new life? Why was it so hard financially to live according to God's Will and Church teachings? Perhaps God was trying to show me to be grateful for the apartment we had, to live simply and to realize that happiness is not found in stuff, but that only led me to feel guilty that I had been coveting a larger home. I also began to experience deep bitterness at homeowners in general. It didn't matter if they had saved for many years or had simply won the lottery and were easily able to buy a new mansion. I resented them all.
The small ray of hope remained with the teacher-placement agency. Greg already had had an interview with one boarding school in the western part of the state, and I was invited to the second interview with him. We liked meeting the students and faculty, and I could envision our family living on campus. It wasn't exactly what I had imagined for us, but it would give us space and we could afford it.
About a month later the second amazing thing happened: an unexpected phone call from a second boarding school in south central Pennsylvania. The administrator who called Greg warmly described the institution and the Latin teacher opening. Greg's interest in the school grew as the conversation continued, and by the time he hung up he had an invitation for an interview...for the next week. The school paid for his travels, put him up in a historic bed and breakfast, and planned a day-long interview so he could meet other teachers, coaches, and administrators. When he arrived home from the trip, he told me he had never wanted a job more badly.
Less than a week later the head of school called him and offered him a job.
The decision to accept the offer was more difficult than it may seem. Although it was certainly an exciting offer, it meant we would have to leave the current jobs which we loved, and move our family over 8 hours away to a part of the country we had never been. It was truly a bittersweet decision.
God answers our prayers in ways we least expect. A year ago I had no idea where to find Mercersburg, PA on a map, but this move has nevertheless answered countless prayers, and the housing is only the beginning. Admittedly, there are days when I feel the dull ache of homesickness, but I can't deny that our family is thriving. All of our ideas and potential solutions paled in comparison to what God had in store for us all along.
My greatest and most inventive idea is completely limited compared to the infinite wisdom and love God has for His children.
(As a remarkable little side note, the week Greg travelled to Mercersburg for his interview was the 18th week of my pregnancy, the same week I was scheduled to have an ultrasound and find out the gender of baby #3. And 10 minutes before he was scheduled to meet an administrator for his interview, he was parked on the side of the road, fixing his tie and talking on the cell phone to his wife....who was describing the ultrasound pictures from the screen in front of her. It makes for a good interview when you've just found out you will be having a son! Now that's a pretty good story....perhaps for a later post...)