Monday, June 06, 2005

Tough decisions

So now that the excitement over A-Girl's job offer is dying down a little, we're working on the difficult issues like how the hell are we going to work out who goes with her, when and for how long. Big D and I both have full time jobs. We're talking to our bosses and they're supportive but there's this sticky issue about compensation. We definitely can't afford to lose our compensation or health benefits. The question is, how much of a reduction in our compensation are we willing to suffer in order for A-Girl to do this? It's not like A-Girl will get paid a ton of money and they'll only pay for one round-trip ticket for a guardian to join her. If we have to swap out guardians once or twice it's on our dime (or, more likely, A-Girl's dime). We have some friends, former babysitters and family members that might be willing to go. But we either don't really trust those people to do the job or they can't leave their lives for more than a week or two and that just won't work airfare-wise.

Then there's the impossible to quantify issue of M-Girl's feelings. How will she feel being without one parent and her only sibling for several months? On the one hand, she'll be an only child for the first time in her life but she'll have a single parent. She might feel left out, the at-home parent might feel more stressed. On the other hand, it might be nice to have just two people in the house for a little while.

Being totally honest, I would personally really love to go to Asia. I think it will be a great opportunity, not only for A-Girl, but for me, too. This fact is something that bothers my husband more than a little. He feels that I'm too invested in having A-Girl go and that my desire to go will render me unable to make a decision that's right for the whole family. And he's probably right, at least to a point. I see this as an opportunity for me to do something different, to spend at least a little time writing and working on some creative endeavors that I can't seem to find the time or energy for right now. That's not to say that I would press to go no matter what. If my boss says that I would have to take an upaid leave and lose my health benefits unless I pay the premiums, that would clearly be a deal-breaker - at least as far as me going for any longer than a few weeks. If I really thought that M-Girl would be crushed and that it would ruin her life if we did this, that would be a deal-breaker, too. I just don't think either of those extreme scenarios is the likely outcome. As usual, the likely outcome is somewhere in the gray area where decisionmaking is hard.

Is it selfish for me to want something for myself and to try to factor my desires into the situation? How important should money be in this situation? Clearly we aren't doing this for the money but is it appropriate for us to lose more money on the deal than A-Girl could possibly make? How much can we ask M-Girl to sacrifice for her sister - especially since she's too young to be a participant in the decision?

I find myself wondering how families of Olympic hopefuls handle their situations. They aren't doing it for the money, that's for sure. Often their significant sacrifices are over a period of many years, not months. And in the end, their payoff is highly uncertain. The payoff to us is uncertain as well, but this can't hurt A-Girl's career. On the other hand, if she stays here, she could (hopefully) continue to book commercials and she'll likely get other opportunities to do theatrical work during the time she would have been out of the country. She can join the Chicago Children's Choir this year instead of next year. She won't have to miss her friends and her sister won't have to miss her. And my husband and I can keep our day jobs. But we won't get to live in Asia for four months. What's that experience worth? That's the $64,000 question that I can't answer. And it's driving me nuts.

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