In a week I will embark on a new adventure in my life: I’m going to fly out to California for six months to work at a startup. That’s right, I’m going to leave my family to live across the country and work at an entirely different company until February or April. I’m not quitting Liberty and I’m not quitting my family but I am taking an opportunity to do something that is crazy by my standards.
I’ll still be working for Liberty but I’ll be working with a consultant team on a project. My director pitched it to me a couple of weeks ago and gave me the weekend to think it over. From a professional perspective it is very exciting – do something new with a new team in a new environment. From a personal perspective it is very difficult – leave your family, put all of the responsibilities of our daily life on your spouse. It wasn’t an easy decision but it is one that Sally and I made together, moving from “you’re not actually considering this?” to “I think we can do this” in a matter of a couple of days.
Liberty understands that this is difficult and is doing what it can to make it easier on us. All expenses for the flights, hotels, and foods are paid as one would expect. I’ll be flying home every other weekend and will still take the Thanksgiving and Christmas vacations I planned. There is even an option for Sally and/or the boys to fly out to see me if desired.
That said, it will still be very difficult and very surreal. We are a tight-knit family and we spend a lot of time together. Being working parents makes us very busy. Our mornings are short and our evenings are pretty packed. We try to squeeze as much quality time out of that as we can. We try to enjoy each other, especially on the weekends. We are a pretty cohesive team, allowing us to efficiently take care of and enjoy our boys. Even with the two of us it can be pretty tiring at times. Moving across the country, even for a couple of weeks at a time, leaves a lot of responsibility on Sally.
We’re going to do what we can to keep up the team work but it’s obviously difficult if one of us isn’t physically there. The boys are old enough to survive without me for a while (they’ve done it for other trips) but it will still require adjustment especially due to frequency and duration. On previous trips I came home and stayed home. We’re explaining the situation to them now that we are back from Texas and making sure to discuss it frequently so they are prepared.
It will be a challenge for me as well. The first week will feel like a normal trip because I’ll be getting settled in but it will truly sink in on the weekend when I’m alone. While it’s nice to take a break from caring for others on occasion, it isn’t my preference. I’ll miss hearing the boys chatter in the morning, sitting around watching cartoons, and going out for the day. I’ll miss drives to / from school and dinners. I’ll miss stories and hugs before bed time. I’ll miss cuddles in the morning and chatter in the car. I’ll miss talking to Sally about what we did during the day, our general gossip, and the partnership of living our lives together.
After being presented with the opportunity I felt sick for the rest of the day. Imagining not seeing the boys for that long made my heart ache and thinking about leaving everything to Sally made me feel extremely guilty. So why in the world did I say yes? I said yes because we said yes. This was not my decision, it was our decision. This kind of opportunity does not appear often at a conservative company like Liberty. This kind of opportunity – to drop everything you are doing, start something brand new, and do it in a way that is fast-paced and unencumbered by traditions and process – does not appear often in any company. I’m essentially going to work for a startup without the risk of losing my job or benefits. In addition it will provide me with some visibility to executives that may be helpful for my career in the future.
It also provides an opportunity for our family to grow. Being so tight-knit means we have lots of structure in our lives and tend to do things a certain way. We depend on each other to perform certain roles and follow certain routines. Being away for weeks at a time will force us to take on new roles, break those routines, and find different ways to spend time together. Our family is strong and this will make us even stronger.
We’re discussing exactly how we are going to accomplish that feat right now. I’ll be calling the boys every night for bed (5 or 5:30 CA time) and will probably Face Time and read a story. Maybe we’ll use that time to talk about what happened during their day. Maybe Sally will put them to bed a bit later to make it easier for her to get them ready and leave more time for us to talk. Sally is going to try to get more of the shopping and other errands done during the week so that our weekends are clear. We will probably have more time to talk on the weekends – maybe a special breakfast call or something. Sally and I will have to find a way to chat about our workdays somehow – maybe Facebook 🙂
So far most of the work is on Sally but I’m going to try my best to contribute. The most important way to do that is to make sure that I support whatever decisions and routines that she has made. It’s not going to be “Dad’s home – follow his rules”. When I’m home we’ll be a team again and I’m going to let her take the lead and provide whatever support she needs. If bedtime is at 9, bedtime is at 9. If toys are all over the place, they are all over the place.
Sally won’t be alone of course; her mom will be a big help and will do her best to support the new routines. She will be able to keep the boys busy to give Sally a break when necessary and help out with the other stuff to make it a bit easier. I’m sure the two of them will come up with some interesting and fun ideas along the way. We also have friends that will help with play dates and co-workers that will help as well.
I’m excited and I’m terrified. I’ll be doing something new for work but I’ll be leaving my responsibilities at home. I’ll have a few co-workers with me but I’ll otherwise be alone in a city that I’m not familiar with. I don’t know what I’m going to do on the weekends when I don’t come home but I’m sure I’ll figure something out. I’ll be traveling more than I ever have before, especially during the holidays. I’ll miss Sally and the boys. There is a lot to work through but I’m sure we’ll figure it out together.