About 3 months ago, I found out I would most likely be kicked out of Denmark. I had gotten confused about what I was supposed to do to extend my residency permit, asked the authorities, never got an answer and then applied too late. At the same time, Denmark tightened their rules concerning foreigners and I got message that I was living and working here illegally. Yet I received no concrete message that I should leave.
Three months went by and I wondered if I would actually get a PhD, if I would get prenatal care and maternity leave, if our family would go on living in Denmark. We read in the news about foreigners getting kicked out, Americans included, for applying past their deadlines. It was getting to be time to devise a Plan B.
But last weekend, we received a letter saying I was allowed to stay and was again living and working legally. Not being big on committing international crimes, this was a relief. (The one additional thing we needed to provide was proof that we were living in an apartment that was sufficient for our family. I was surprised to notice that our apartment just barely met the requirements for square meters for a family of four. Needless to say, we're not living extravagantly, but we're not cramped.)
And now we are allowed to go on planning for the future.
For the greater part of my year's maternity leave next year, we are going to be living in Madison, Wisconsin. It is a very logical place for a whole slew of reasons – not the least of which is SR will be close to all four of his kids. Meantime I'll be working 10 hours a week on my PhD, all the while being paid for full time work (thanks, Denmark!).
This change in work hours for me just cannot come too soon. Right now, I work 12 hours days three days a week. And work regular 7-8 hours the two other week days. If SR didn't have a four hour commute each day, this wouldn't be such a big deal. But as it is, The Lorax is in day care 12 hours a day, three days a week. I should admit, I get time off in the middle of the day to run/swim whatever – that is I make time to prevent insanity – but The Lorax is getting the shaft. As is Natty who sits at home alone and is responsible for making her own dinner, etc. This is not fun for a 10 year old, I imagine.
This morning, it really hit me how detrimental this situation could be if it went on long-term. I had time to eat breakfast with The Lorax this morning and made him some toast with Nutella, per his request, only to have him tell me that he would prefer to eat breakfast at day care. He stared blankly, and with the honest numbness only a three year old can have, letting me know day care was becoming his home and he felt strangely abandoned. This is the kind of signal a dad might ignore. And maybe it is meaningless. But I attach a lot of meaning to it.
And thus, I find that in three years, when we do move back to the US, that I don't want to do a medical or surgical or whatever residency where I have to work 80 hours. For SR, me not doing a residency is unthinkable. Yet, I can't help dreaming of living in the US and working part time while doing a masters in say Music Ethnography (one can't accuse me of being overly practical). Or studying more of the history of medicine. Anyway, residency might have to wait until the children are older. Not that I don't want to do a residency – it sure would make finding a job easier. But I also have to be fair to myself here- it's not what I want.
If I did residency in Denmark, the work would be 40 hours a week – and manageable, partly becuase day care here is so darn good. But 80 hours a week in the US, even if just for two years, is to me, not an option. We could have the greatest nanny or au pair in the world and I would be left feeling miserable. And it would never be just two years, because I'd want to do a fellowship afterwards and bla bla bla.
The other thing about moving back to the US that will suck is I fail to understand the political views of most people there. And the way the society functions in general. I had trouble understanding it when I still lived there, and now it has become even more foreign to me. So, since I refuse to be a pessimist, I will just imagine that between now and when we move there, Wisconsin and Minnesota will join forces, becoming of course the country, Minnesconsin, where bike lanes, high speed trains, windmills and socialism rule (Wisconsin needs some help right now, Minn.). But it is pointless to talk politics because no one ever changes anyone elses' mind.
Instead, I will mention my pregnancy. All is well. Lots of kicking (or rather baby movement) and people are actually asking me if I'm with baby now, which preferable to the "you have put on a few" stare. Speaking of which, I still haven't gained a pound in the last five weeks. I'm happy about that because I feel like I look better and I also feel better. Maybe it is simply that I feel I have some semblance of control over the current chaos in my life. Regardless, I don't feel the baby is being harmed in any way. Oh I know people will write angrily at me for this, but you know what, I'm not attempting to not gain weight – I feel it is just my body saying more is not necessary at the moment.
Have to add a little interesting tidbit. I talked with my mom about pregnancy weight gain and she mentioned that both of my grandmas gained under 15 lbs in their pregnancies. Not only did I get the impression that my weight gain tendencies are indeed genetic, but I also was surprised when she told me that this is what was recommended to them – that they gain less than 15 lbs so that they baby wouldn't get so big that they would need a c-section. Just some interesting history, I guess. Though there was very little uniformity in physicians' recommendations those days.
Running Song of the day: Love is All by The Tallest Man on Earth
Edit: So the drama with my residency permit continues. I just got an email from Foreign Services, right after I wrote this post, stating our rental contract was insufficient and because it depends on my employment at the hospital. I thus need to provide a work contract stating I will be employed until 2013!!! How many people can provide that?! The laws here are unbelievable!
Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.
"Children are fascinated by the ordinary and can spend timeless moments watching sunlight play with dust. Their restlessness they learn from you. It is you who are thinking of there when you are here. It is you who thinks of then instead of now. Stop. Let your children become the teachers and you the student" - William Martin