I went walking with a friend (I’ll call her Sunny) today who is feeling at a crossroads. A year ago, she and her husband decided to simplify their lives a great deal by pulling their kids out of private schools, renting out their lovely home, and moving to a neighborhood where the public schools would serve her children well.
The kids have thrived and are thrilled with their new schools and their new friends and their new community. It helps that they are within 15 minutes’ drive from most of their old friends, but they don’t seem to miss the old school or their old haunts in the least.
My friend’s husband has since taken a new job which requires him to travel a great deal, but he enjoys it and their marriage is strong enough to weather the time apart.
For now, Sunny is a stay-at-home mom, running her household, fixing her children healthy meals and available to help with homework. She has interviewed for a few jobs in her field but nothing has stuck yet, since it is important to her to find one that has enough flexibility for her to remain present for her kids.
Last month, they decided that this experiment had worked well enough to warrant selling their house and it sold in five days. They are renting a home in their new neighborhood until June and when I asked her, “What next?” she paused before admitting she didn’t know. They could move back east, closer to her family and her aging parents, or they could look for a house to buy in their new neighborhood. I pushed a little more, probing to see what she wanted to do, and she began a verbal pro/con list of all the options. Then she sat back in her chair and sighed.
“Honestly, Kari, – and the kids and I talk about this all the time – it’s just so easy to be here. The kids are happy at school. They have friends. I don’t have to work, for now, and their dad is happy with his job. The schools are great, the people are great, everything is within walking distance and life is just…easy.”
Her face was a mixture of guilt and embarrassment as she admitted all of this to me.
I smiled and thought about what a lovely, lovely turn of events this is. Why should life be hard? Of course, it is sometimes, and for some people more than others, but often I think we make it too hard on ourselves without realizing that we are. Their conscious decision a year ago was to simplify. And it seems that it worked. Good for them. I hope they revel in it. I hope that it feels safe and comforting. I can’t say that there was ever a time in my childhood that felt “easy,” and I hope she knows what a gift she’s giving to her kids by letting them experience that. It won’t last forever, but while it’s here, I’ll celebrate it with her.