It’s official. We are heading back to Stepford at the end of the summer.
It’s not my first choice. In fact, it was just me I would not go at all, I’d be on a plane to London, looking forward to living in a proper brick house with multiple rooms/levels that belongs to me and me alone. I’d be planning fabulous dinner parties, new frocks, nights out, afternoons at my club, interesting pursuits and lots of reading books by my much-missed hand-painted Victorian fireplace with a roaring coal (ite) fire in the grate.
But it’s not just me. It’s Husband, who is looking forward to teaching again, to having his ocean-front office with views of frolicking dolphins, and the comfort and security of tenure. It’s the children, who miss their friends, their own house, their lovely school, the easy, familiar life they’ve grown up with. And I have come to appreciate, after much struggling with the concept, that I might need to let go of some of what I want in order to have other things that I also really want. A bit like when Five went on his first Hallowe’en expedition and found himself unable to let go of the sweetie in each hand in order to accept a new one. I already had quite a lot of what I wanted but perhaps couldn’t see it because I was busy thinking about what I was missing. I’m now clearer on how to get the additional important bits that I need without sacrificing the entire scenario – I think they call that “Not throwing the baby out with the bathwater”. Rather apt, don’t you think?
This year away had been good for us, despite its challenges. Husband and I have re-calibrated and re-ordered our priorities and as a result of this I have agreed to return for the greater good of the family with the understanding that a budget will be set aside for me to leave town frequently for work and study, and that we outsource a significant amount of domestic drudgery. I’m ALL DONE with that.
And it’s not all a downer. I’m most definitely looking forward to the weather, our lovely neighbours, loyal friends who stayed in touch and even, amazingly, seemed to miss me. I can’t wait to get back to dance class. I’m a giant wobbly blob after a year of delicious San Francisco food and no exercise beyond walking to the bakery, and no other teacher quite measured up to the Commandant of Hip Hop so in the end I didn’t bother. I am a little afraid of how much I’ve slipped (and how much I’ll huff and puff) but I’m determined to shift my booty back into shape. I am also really excited for Eight to go back to her lovely school and for Five to start Kindergarten there, too. We never knew how good we had it until we experienced the SF public school system and even Eight’s Catholic school, for which we paid a not insignificant sum, was fairly unimpressive. We are not Catholic, so I was not particularly concerned about her religious education beyond keeping up in class, but after seven months of daily R.E. plus preparing in class for the First Communion I was somewhat taken aback to discover how little she’d learned. Shopping for Easter cards, we saw a picture of the Pope:
Seven: Ha ha! Who’s that funny guy in the pointy hat?
Me: Aren’t you supposed to be attending Catholic school?
Seven: what’s HE got to do with it? What a weirdo!
We were also dismayed by the number of movies her 2nd grade teacher showed in class. Not just during rainy recesses, but during actual class time, often instead of the children reading the book that the film was based upon. When we objected, the teacher told us it was fine to skip the book because afterwards they drew Venn diagrams.
Husband was unimpressed. He pointed out that he was also a teacher and that he knew for a fact that the only reason to show films is so you can check your email and surf the internet while your students are otherwise occupied. We have since learned that the young lady is getting married this summer so I imagine she got a lot of planning done while the children were watching Godzilla (oh yes, they were!).
Finally, as the golden carrot, we are getting a new kitchen and new floors and the entire house will be repainted. Husband has promised not to venture opinions unless specifically requested, and then only in order for me to pretend to consider and subsequently disregard them.
I think it’s going to work out.