In November we finally sold our house. It took 18 months on the market and a sale price that was one third less than what we paid for it four years earlier, but we finally had a buyer lift that massive financial burden from our shoulders. More importantly, we also rid ourselves of a gigantic anchor that kept dragging on our consciousness every time we tried to make plans for the future. We fought desperately against this drag, trying over and over to defy its pull and to pretend that we could just go on with our lives. To prove our defiance we even sought to buy another house - going so far as to actually sign a contract and put the mortgage process in motion before some structural problems with the house led us to back away.
So once the house was fully cleaned out, the paperwork settled, and the keys handed over to the new owners, the emotional relief was intense. We could breathe again. We could look at our bank statement without seeing the gut-wrenching erosion of our savings. We could make plans that did not include the caveat 'once the house sells.'
We could also start addressing some of the other long-running questions that had been pushed aside by the house. One of those questions for me has been what exactly am I going to do with myself once both kids are in school or, put another way, what comes next when fatherhood is no longer a full-time occupation? Pip starts kindergarten this fall. Polly is only two years away from joining him. My window for deliberation, once a half-decade wide, is closing shut at a tremendous speed.
Before we had to deal with selling the house, the question of my future employment was the unanswerable shadow haunting the ins and outs of my daily life. It would whisper in my ear as I did the dishes. It rocked with me as I sung the kids to sleep at night. It trotted along beside me when I went running. So, when we gained relief from the house, I was ready to keep the momentum going by taking care of this question as well.
After some consideration, I decided that the most logical route to gaining full employment within a two to three year span would be to go back to school and get an MBA. This was something I could get started on in January and with a bit of scheduling luck I could be almost ready for the job market when Polly entered kindergarten. Whether that was actually a realistic scenario or not didn't matter too much. What was important was that I had the answer to my question.
With that decision made, I began preparing for the coursework ahead by getting my math skills back up to snuff. Whatever free time I had - including the time I had used for writing - went towards working through practice problems in a college-level algebra textbook. At the same time, I figured out what prereqs I needed to complete and set about getting enrolled in a local university in order to knock them out. First up was Survey of Accounting. I acquired the book at Christmas and was heading into Chapter 3 by the time the first week of class rolled around.
And then it turned out I couldn't do it. There was not enough time to be a good full-time father and a good MBA student. Things would have to slide. Sacrifices would have to be made. Moments would come where I would have to choose between family and schoolwork. While this kind of negotiation is something people do every day, it is a miserable thing to live with after not having to do it for so long. And it only made everyone in our family edgy. So, I dropped the class. The MBA or whatever else is out there for me can wait. We will happily keep our domestic bubble intact for a while longer.
I've had a similar realization with respect to this blog. Over the summer I attempted to balance the time I spent writing blog entries with other projects I wanted to work on. The results were not satisfactory. I felt constantly torn over how to allocate my attention and generally frustrated that I wasn't getting things done the way I wanted to. I broke away from all of it while managing our housing dramas and during my flirtations with the MBA idea. Once those ended I took some time to assess what I wanted to do next. My first decision was that I should only try to do one thing for a while. My second decision was that the blog would not be that one thing. I enjoyed my year of working on it, but I am ready to fiddle with something else for a bit.
And so, with this post I am bringing the blog to a close. Thank you to everyone who read, followed, and commented. I sincerely appreciate your coming along with me.
All the best,