Thursday, January 22, 2009

you TURN at the turn

The other morning L told me a dream he had had the night before. In the dream we were going up to Machias and I was driving. I was driving badly, as usual (what?), and was going too fast; the car felt out of control as we cruised along next to the ocean. We came up to a turn in the road, but instead of staying on the road I just kept going straight and drove off into the water. As we sat in the car in the water, L looked at me incredulously and said, "You TURN at the turn."

So, instead of hanging out in the freezing January ocean, we're turning at the turn. I'm going to start working on my dissertation full-time at a place yet to be determined (but probably a desk on the 4th floor of the local university library.) L will be in charge of D during the day. I'm hanging up my SAHM badge and he's becoming an official stay-at-home dad.

He'll keep looking out for work although neither of us is exactly expecting employment to come through anytime soon. When L registered for unemployment compensation he simultaneously signed up for the state's job bank. He specified all of his experience, education, and interests in his profile and discovered that there are jobs for someone with his experience....within 90 miles. 90 miles. That basically means there are no jobs for woodworkers within all of the most-populated parts of Maine and New Hampshire.

So that's not good. But you know, this really is an excellent opportunity underneath the frightening parts of it. I'm excited at the prospect of finally finishing this qualification that I've been working on for over seven years. Further, even before this happened, I had been thinking about how D is at an age where I feel like his relationship with his father is gaining a new dimension of importance. He's wanting more and more physical play and has become less and less clingy. I'm aware of how he's developing a separate sense of himself as a social being, making choices about how he wants to behave and trying out different methods of getting what he wants. So far, in my mind, his gender has been basically irrelevant. He's just been a baby. Lately, though, I feel him becoming a little boy. What that means to me is that his social self is starting to present issues of gendering: I suddenly feel a need to make choices about how I help him regulate his behavior towards others and there is inevitably a gendered aspect to those choices. This isn't really the point of this particular blog so I'm not going to ponder at length about it here, but in some ways it makes me feel less like I'm giving up my baby and more like I'm handing my child on to a mentor who is appropriate for this particular stage. I think L is exactly the kind of man I hope D can grow up to be: comfortable in his body; self-possessed and solid; attuned to others' feelings. I think the training to become that starts now.

The rent from our upstairs apartment covers most of our mortgage. Unemployment compensation covers more than half of what L brought in. We'll be going into our savings during this period -- but even if we spent the whole time just freaking out about L's job and living in our regular patterns, we'd be doing that. The Department of Labor doesn't require that you're miserable and moping around the house the whole time you're looking for (largely unobtainable) work -- and if L is offered a job, we can decide what we want to do at that point. My yogini cousin suggested that maybe this happened for a reason. While I am a confirmed non-believer -- and that goes for concepts like fate and destiny too -- I think that considering it that way helped me get to a place where I was able to see the faces around the vases in our situation. So thanks, Rob.

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