As many of you know and for those that do not, my family and I are in the midst of a pretty big life change. Ok so maybe that is a grossly understated way of putting it. Quitting your jobs with two young boys to move to another part of the country and basically start over is not something most people do. I have been fortunate to have friends and family say how proud they are of me and what I am doing but I also see the look in their eyes and know that in the back of their minds they are saying you’re crazy! And Why on earth are you doing this? So, I guess it does bear some explanation.
For the past eight plus years, my wife and I have lived in Wheaton, IL. I was an attorney commuting almost everyday to one of the best cities in the world and she has been a special ed teacher in one of the best school districts in the country. We live in a pretty typical house in a nice neighborhood. We literally have a white picket fence. When we had kids it became clear that something was missing. Me. We hear talk of having a good work-life balance which is an especially difficult achievement for attorneys. I had a pretty good work-life balance for an attorney that commuted to the big city. No real problems with getting time off, some flexibility with my schedule and understanding bosses. I made pretty good money. I worked hard and I was praised for the work that I did by the partners at the firm and my clients. But it was still not a good work-life balance for ME. I generally left each day at 6:30 a.m. and did not get home until at least 6:30 p.m., sometimes later. That meant most days I was not there when the boys woke up each day and I would only have about an hour each night to spend with my family and some nights I would not get home until after the boys were in bed. For someone like me who wants to be a good husband, father and provider, it started to take a toll.
One day, a couple of years ago, my wife said she wanted to move back home and she said it almost as if she knew it probably might not happen. The answer “Yes” came forth surprisingly quick and surprisingly easy. We knew it would be a lot of work and add some stress to our lives. I did what I needed to do. I got my PA and WV licenses and interviewed for jobs but the market was tight and all the jobs I was interviewing for were very similar to the one I was leaving. There would be a commute, billable hours, long days, etc. Then, like an epiphany, the idea of going out on my own presented itself. I was so excited about it you would have thought I was the first person to ever come up with this idea. All of the pieces started falling into place. A couple attorneys in the area said they would refer some work to me. We had a place to stay. Office space in a good location was available. In a matter of a couple of months, after almost two years of job-hunting (virtually in secret), I gave my notice at work and started planning my new endeavor. The idea of being my own boss was just too much to pass up.
We decided that I would head to Washington, PA this past January and that my wife would stay behind with the boys and finish out the school year so I could have some time to figure things out without the “distraction” that comes with parenting. I use the term distraction, not in a negative way, but more like an I want to be home with my family instead of at the office sort of way. That has been, by far, the most difficult part of this journey. I miss my wife. I miss my boys. They do something new every day and I am not there to see it. But I was not there to see it before and this will only last for a couple more months. Once they get here, I will be able to see them every morning before I go to work and I will be there each night before they good to bed. This I promise you.
So when someone asks me why we are doing this and why Washington, Pennsylvania, I respond by saying things like it is a good opportunity for me and/or so our family can be closer to my wife’s family and they will say “Good for you” or ”I’m proud of you”. And when I see that look in their eyes when they say those things, I will smile because in the back of my mind I know I am doing this for one simple reason:
Would I really want it any other way?