I recall a night in college, standing over the San Marcos river, preparing to jump off a bridge. It was January, so by Texas standards it was cold, and I knew the water was going to worsen that situation. The jump was tempting: novelty, adventure, giving into my less logical side. A part of me, however, was still nervous, not for any specific reasons, just because the act of leaping into a rushing river is an event for pause. My friends were yelling for me below, so my pause what short lived. I jumped.
One week from today, my husband will turn in his keys and leave his job of six years. This is not a result of downsizing; he is leaving by choice. After years of working 80 to 90 hour weeks, missing birthdays, weekends, and holidays because of his on-call schedule, and seeing more of his family sleeping than awake, we have made the decision to change our lives. For most of those six years he has tried to go to school part time in order to obtain his degree, but the weariness of working the schedule above has made that impossible. So, one week from today, Staley will become a full-time student and stay-at-home dad.
The idea is intoxicating to me on many levels. My brilliant husband will finally be able to finish school as he’s always wanted with a major in biochemistry. He will no longer be shackled to a schedule that doesn’t put family before productivity. Our children will see there father every day instead of once or twice a week.
Financially, our lives are about to change. Liliana starts Kindergarten this year and thankfully we have found a way to cover her tuition. Aside from that, while I did receive a new position in addition to my teaching, that combined with my assistant professor’s salary is a far cry from our previous income level. Our budget is in place and we are, in the words of Thoreau, working to simplify. I don’t view any of this as a sacrifice because there is no material comfort or technological luxury that is worth more than a life with my family.
Certainly there is trepidation in our leap. My husband fears not working, having worked most of his life. He fears failure. He fears that I mean it when I tell him that he will have to learn to cook, vegan food at that. (Just between us, I do kind of mean it. I think it would be hot to see him in a chef’s apron sauteing something while listening to Johnny Cash.)
In the end, I suppose it all comes down to how you define happiness and the price you are willing to pay for it. To have my husband home, studying to do something challenging and fulfilling in his life, the price is not too high by any means.
PS. Practical Crafts will return next week, lousy with upcycled earrings.
PPS. Anyone got thrifty vegan recipes that might easily be made by a novice chef biochem major listening to Johnny Cash?