Sunday, July 31, 2011

Life is a Trade-Off

Today marks the last day of our summer break. Matt has been home with me since the first week of June, but he’s back to a full-time schedule tomorrow. This means that I’m back to the routine of actually taking Reese with me to run errands and buy groceries. This day was bittersweet for me last year too because I knew I would miss spending extra time with Matt, but I love my stay-at-home-mom role so much that I look forward to that too. This year, however, it’s a different feeling altogether because Matt isn’t returning to his usual job as a classroom teacher.

This year Matt is joining the administrative staff as the assistant principal at the high school, and although I couldn’t be happier about the advances he’s making in his career, I also know that this is a big trade-off for us. On the upside, our prayers have been answered because we are looking at a drastic increase in our income. We might actually be able to move into a different house in the next year or two. We will be able to start saving again, and we can start doing more date nights and family outings. Most importantly, I have peace of mind knowing that I can continue to stay home full-time. 

The downside to Matt’s new position is that he’ll have to put in a lot more hours than he did as a teacher. He’ll be expected to attend meetings and school events in the evenings and on the weekends. He’ll be spending about half of his Fridays supervising athletic events, and it will be harder for us to travel on the weekends because he might get called in to supervise a Saturday School. He’ll leave earlier in the morning and come home later in the evening every day. I’ll be alone a lot more during the week, and I won’t have him home early enough in the evenings to help with Reese while I make dinner. It’ll definitely be a big adjustment for me, especially after having so much help for the past two months.

When I feel sad about the downsides of this change, I immediately start feeling guilty. I feel like I’m complaining about such a positive step forward. This is the outcome Matt wanted for his career and the outcome I wanted so I wouldn’t have to go back to work. The same thing happens when Reese drives me nuts or when I get down about the money we gave up or the career I sacrificed to stay home. I think, “I chose this lifestyle, therefore I don’t have the right to complain about it.”

Realistically, it’s not fair for me to expect that of myself. Even though I have some fleeting thoughts of dread about the challenge to come, I’m still really excited about the life we’re building together and the direction we’re heading. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging the downsides of a life you love. And there’s nothing wrong with wishing for a moment that life could always be win-win. Unfortunately for most of us, it doesn’t work that way. But that doesn’t mean life can’t at least be win-more-than-lose. That’s how I feel about staying home and that’s also how I feel about Matt’s new job. Life is a series of trade-offs, and even though we had to give something up with each choice, we can go forward feeling like we've made some pretty good deals.  

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