17 Jan

What Would A Sane Person Do?

I usually try to keep the messy, complain-y, personal stuff off my blog (OK, except for the stuff about life being a major distraction from art-making); but I think this can be filed under the “I’m only human” category, and I bet a lot of people can relate to this predicament.

I read about City & Guilds’ Patchwork diploma probably in late 2005 but TS&WGH and I decided I should wait to enroll because we didn’t know if we’d be moving in summer ’06 and we didn’t think I should take a long break just as I started the program. By the time we knew we’d be stable for two more years, I had the opportunity to have a solo show which I couldn’t pass up. Obviously, that took all of my free time last year. Last spring, while I was preparing for the show, TS&WGH took the opportunity to take a career building (and boredom curing) course in the US which would take him away from our home for almost five months. I could have canceled the show at that point, but I don’t admit defeat easily, or gracefully. By the time I had been a single parent for a few months and was overwhelmed, it was too late to cancel (thanks to my deep sense of loyalty). I made it; finished enough quilts to fill the gallery and the show is getting a good reception from it’s visitors. All is well that ends well.

So what does this have to do with City & Guilds? It’s the new year, I don’t have any pressing deadlines, I’ve made my class outline for the course in Halle I’ve been invited to teach, I’ve carefully chosen possible dates for the class based on TS&WGH’s long weekends so he can be Mr. Mom, my computer is backed up, and I’ve outsourced the rebuilding of my website. I am ready to tackle some “professional development,” namely the City & Guilds Patchwork diploma course (a two to four year endeavor if I go all the way).

As Murphy’s Law would have it, TS&WGH is now looking at the possiblity of a six month deployment starting in the next month or so. He really has to take it because, not only is it a career building opportunity, but it shields him a little longer from a 12 month deployment to a much more dangerous place. Of course, the one long weekend before he would leave is the one weekend that doesn’t seem to work so well for the shop in Halle. I could insist that the class be held in February and maybe not have a great turnout, or I could work with the shop and have the class in March, but impose on my neighbors to take care of my kids for the three days I would be gone. *UPDATE* My neighbor said she will watch the kids if need be!!! I heart her!
Which then brings me back to City & Guilds. I’m wondering if starting the course now would be too much while I’m a single parent, even though it is self-paced. Of course, if I wait until he gets back in late fall, we’d be facing that non-productive holiday time, and then a possible move in the summer of ’08 which brings us back to where I started with the prospect of a course hiatus just as I get it going.

So, I wonder, what would a sane person do? Would a sane person hold on to his or her desires and make it work despite the odds, or be realistic and put off non-essential activities until a better time when there’s more support for the day to day stuff? Is there ever a better time? It certainly seems like there isn’t one in my life. The only constant I’ve found since “we” joined the Army is change and uncertainty.

13 thoughts on “What Would A Sane Person Do?

  1. As a former Army daughter and later an Air Force wife, I totally understand what you’re experiencing. Change and uncertainty is always there. My suggestion is to go on with your plans, modifying them somewhat to take care of the children factor (maybe a family member could choose this time to visit and help out?). Maybe involve the kids in your class project (I don’t know how they’d take to this as I don’t know them). Many military spouses find themselves putting off their own individual dreams while their loved ones fulfill their own obligations. The problem is that those dreams end up unfulfilled and wondrous opportunities are missed–which is sad. Either keep your schedule or reschedule the classes (folks truly interested will show up) or find some other compromise that will work for you and your family. I wish you the very best of luck in working towards your dreams and goals.

  2. I echo one of your closing questions: Is there EVER a better time? While I am by no means a sane person when it comes to having too many things that need to be done (where is my “no tool” when I need it?), I encourage you to stick with your plan. Things work out, things get done as best they can. I can’t believe I just said that, but time and again, things work out. Allow yourself this focus. I look at your quilts repeatedly and am overwhelmed by their beauty. Go forward!

  3. This is a tough one, Kristin, but when I look back at similar situations I’ve faced, the only decisions I regret are the opportunities I passed up.
    I have only heard wonderful things about Cities &Guilds courses. I actually have a friend here in the U.S. who’s participating in the C&G program, flying to London periodically for reviews.

  4. When I did C&G it took 20-30 hours a week, I could only do it when my DD had started school and the whole family had to accept a lesser state of tidyness and more quick meals. I also found whilst it was great learning new stuff all the time, it did mean I never ad time to really work on any one thing which took my fancy.
    Hope this helps,

  5. If you start the course and it all becomes too much you can always drop it. I think you would find it very rewarding and you will probably regret it if you don’t at least try to take it. But, hey, I’m retired with lots of time on my hands. I can barely remember when I had a full-time job and 4 kids in 6 years to care for.

  6. You are great at multi-tasking and the kids are a year older (more self sufficient) than when you prepared for the show last year. When things get stressful, you have the grandmothers to call upon. So, as long as you have some control over the times away from home, I’d say go for it. I have never regretted the 13 years it took me to get a college degree while raising my daughters. Even if the program takes four years, you are still making progress toward your goal.

  7. As a Navy wife looking at several deployments over the next few years with the new squadron we will be joining soon (currently he is away at a school) – I am planning my life as if my husband will be home. I am utilizing babysitters – even if I have to pay an arm and a leg for them – when I need them. I have a three year old and a seven year old.

    It is tough going it alone, but if it is something you enjoy, you will be a better person for it and not resentful later on if you missed an opportunity. I know that currently, I require at least one day a week without my kids so I can toodle around in my sewing area. I am grumpy if I don’t get that. I pay a sitter for 6 hours for my three year old so I can get that. My husband encourages that even though money is tight – we cut out other things so I can have that one day a week.

  8. Kristen, only you know what you can handle and what you can’t, but I will offer this thought. When my children were small and my husband was busy working and also getting advanced degrees at night and I considered scaling back my own wants and desires it occurred to me that one of my responsibilities toward my children (which always DO come first) was to be a role model as well as a caregiver. It seemed to me that if I deferred my own life needs I was not showing them the kind of life that I wanted for them, and an unhappy and frustrated mother was not the model of parenthood I wanted them to adopt.

    I really do remember being where you are. It is hard and compromise is inevitable, but giving up your own dreams is really not an acceptable option. And, no, there is never a “better time.”

  9. Wow, you have gotten some good advice before your quilt mom showed up on the scene. I love your real mom’s advice. Would you look back 10 years from now and say “I wish I had done that.” or will you look back and say “It was difficult, but I am so glad that I made the effort.” I think you would rather do the latter. Selfishly, I want to see you do it as I want to take the class with you – vicariously, of course.

    I have been thinking about you and TS&WGH and wondering what kind of deployment he might get.

  10. I have a friend who is doing C&G and having a great time. When my sister’s husband is deployed, she always starts some “crazy” thing, like getting her teaching certification or a master’s degree. It has always worked out. She has two kids and teaches full time, too.

    I saw this on tv, and thought of your mushroom thing…

    Magic Toadstools

    These are easy to prepare, look fabulous, and are made with healthy ingredients.

    6 hard-boiled eggs
    Cheese spread, such as Cheez Whiz
    3 small potatoes, halved
    Alfalfa sprouts

    Trim the top and bottom of each of the hard-boiled eggs so that they are flat and arrange on a plate. Squeeze or pipe dots of cheese spread over the tomatoes and place a halved tomato on top of each of the boiled eggs. Decorate the plate with alfalfa sprouts.

  11. Most people I know who have done City & Guilds courses (and I’m in the UK, so I know quite a few) are constantly behind, or constantly wishing they had more time. Which I think simply means, there might NEVER be a perfect time to do it. However, they have mostly really enjoyed the experience, and they have all learned from it – not always in the way they might have expected. I think if I were you, I’d go for it. I might do one myself, but not for a few more years – I want to at least get all my kids in full time education first…

  12. Remember how I did my MBA and all I could say when I’d come visit is “I am sooooo tired” ?? Well, I was exhausted but I don’t regret it for a minute – great experience and even more importantly, great friends acquired. I’ll be in Lausanne for a reunion in mid-June if that impacts things at all… depends if I have a real job or not but I could be persuaded to do a week or so of kidsitting. (I’ll have time to learn songs to teach them… he he heeeeee)

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