My growing frustration with my surroundings has given me pause to reflect on my desire to be happy. It has now been almost ten years since selling everything of monetary value and giving away priceless memories all in an effort to squeeze our large family into student housing out here in the middle of the prairies. All for what? Oh, yeah – so I could get my Master’s degree and do something worthwhile with my life. Ah, how the cynic emerges during times of frustration.
It is not all that doom and gloom. The decision was an equally shared one with my life partner and myself. I had run the gamut of the restaurant business, climbed the corporate ladder, won the awards, owned and operated and ended up completely unfulfilled. We had suffered tremendous loss and felt the mountains (and family) were smothering us. It was time to break free from it all and explore other worlds, other universes, and other perspectives.
When I initially made the decision to seek out schooling to when we had moved away it had been a couple of years. At first there was no decision to move as we were very aware of how much the emotional cost of moving had been on our family and to that end we were also aware that we perhaps had one more move or two in us before our whole family would blow up. So we had figured out a plan for me to begin schooling and stay where we were for as long as possible. But life very rarely follows our plans and within the year circumstances had come and messed everything up. By the time the dust settled we were locked into a nine month countdown to our departure.
I fast tracked the Masters degree and ended up employed doing something completely different then I had been in that far western province. We moved again – and then again, driving by circumstances continuing to be beyond our control. That final move into the home we are still living in strained our entire family to the breaking point. We were all putting on a brave face but we were waiting for something to snap – something to break so we could all put ourselves out of our misery.
My wife and I opted to purchase that home in an effort to force ourselves to stay put and use this place and these circumstances to successfully launch our children. That became our priority and so all of our plans revolved around doing that and hopefully doing that well. Life continued to tumble us around, tossing us from place to place socially and consequently emotionally, however we at least had our home to retreat to and find solace in.
And so we did.
Slowly, one by one each of our children began to prep for their final year at home, preparing themselves emotionally, mentally, and physically for their inevitable departure. We could be their solid rock if they needed to retreat after taking a couple of steps outside. One by one each of our children moved out, successful in their own right and we now find ourselves in the last few months of this journey with our youngest daughter preparing for her launch next spring.
We can then call ourselves ’empty-nesters’ officially.
This life change often causes couples to think through their circumstances, to ponder their options and to perhaps make changes to prepare themselves for their next chapter in life. Often it is the joining together of two relatively separate parental roles into one where the couple is now more focused on each other than distracted with child-raising. In our case when my wife and I were first married we considered ourselves a family even though there were no children. When the children came along I stressed that they were invited to be a part of our family but that my wife and I would always put each other first.
We did this to show them an example of a healthy and vibrant relationship and marriage. We did this to be a solid rock to the children so when they ventured out on their own they would seek out similar qualities in a life partner in order to find the same intensity of joy that we have found. And so although my wife and I put each other first our collective choices have always been to seek out the best we could provide for our children, consequently we had now find ourselves in this home in this place and time actively supporting each of our children’s impending departure from us and emergence into something called adulthood.
Through it all my wife and I continued to dream and wonder about what may lie ahead for us. We wondered if we would make this place and our home a ‘base of operations’ in which we would embark on world wide excursions and have it be the common collecting point for family gatherings, adapting to accommodate our children’s partners and inevitable children. Those wonderings are still there but in the meantime we have become aware of our growing frustration with all things – This Place.
In my effort to seek after joy or in a more philosophical sense – to only be where you are wanted – this translates into an examination – or ‘taking stock’ of where we are, what the hell we are doing with our lives, and all the rest of life’s ramblings. What we have come up with is something we are now calling the Five Year Exit Plan. Let me gather my thoughts about me and then I shall try to share what the hell that might mean…