I could probably write a whole series of posts with this title.
From the outside in, our family has been living a very romantic life for a while. We get to see and enjoy each other for most of the entire day. We get to read together, eat together, play and work together. I have had the privilege of watching our children learn how to read and even love reading. Don gets to coach our kids’ sports teams, pausing his work day earlier than “normal.” As a couple, we can slip out for walks and talks on the trail beside our home in the middle of the day or head out for a run together as a couple at random hours. And our son has been able to make hundreds of dollars walking dogs for a neighbor because he is home mid-day while she is working. Our house has been the one with the revolving door of neighborhood kids and the worn out lawn always filled with balls, bikes and scooters.
And now, we get to be the family that just decides to “go on vacation” for a year.
Well, it sounds grand . . . and it actually has been grand.
But I’m not sure too many people would deliberately choose to live this way if they knew the tangible costs and sacrifices that we make every day in order to enjoy these amazing benefits. The reality of living this way involves accepting a lot of unpredictability, mess, and chaos.
So, if you’d like a peek into some of the “reality” vs. the romance of how we live, here are a couple examples:
Messy House – Our carpet needs help. As much as we try to have neighbor kids take off their shoes when they come in, somehow tracks of mud or popsicle drippings have left their mark. Our counters usually have half a dozen cups around the water area of kids who might come back in for another drink. And our porch . . .well, you’re bound to find popcorn kernels or popsicle sticks here and there. While we work hard to keep the yard and house clear and clean, I’m okay with the little trails of mess. They remind me that happy kids have run through.
Conflict – Because we are all around each other so much, the potential for conflicts and tension naturally increases. Sometimes we just need breaks from each other, so we’ll go for a run or hide in a room with a book and headphones. As a married couple, working in each others’ businesses, we’ve had to learn how to really hear what the other person is meaning to say, and not take a criticism personally. We have to work extra hard to make sure our kids handle conflict well, too, especially since they are around each other all the time. We coach them through what it means to admit wrong, ask forgiveness, and then choose to forgive. It’s not always easy.
Work Life – The romantic part of this is that we get to pursue our own careers while living life day-to-day alongside our children. The reality side of this is that it usually means our work hours are split between home and family life. Once kids are down for bed, the second part of our work day begins, writing and gearing up tasks for the next day. Also our kids have had to learn from an early age how to be completely quiet while we jump into a virtual meeting. It sounds simple, but sometimes they have to constrain a cough or sniffle if we are on a professional call in the car. And for any entrepreneur, owning your own business is a completely different game than working for someone else. Period. We’ve done both. This is harder.
But better. We wouldn’t trade it for the world. I feel like because we’ve chosen to accept a harder or “messier” reality, we get to taste a bit of the romance of life each and every day.