Here is it 2011 and therefore it must be time to reflect on the last year and create a plan for the new year. Well, at any rate that is what people tend to do around this time of year so why not me….why not Sherburne County Backroads? After all there has to be some purpose to this blog and seeing as how I have not collected any income for the last two years there’s not enough to justify a blog about eating out.
The year of 2010 was a year of recovery for me. It was also a year that saw me become a much better father and husband. It was a year the culminated in my release from the bonds of business partnership and my ultimate battle with personal bankruptcy.(I have no qualms about sharing this personal battle freely on the internet with billions of potential readers.) It was a year, take it for all in all, I am thankful to have experienced and am ready to move on to something new.
I will be the first to say that in the not too distant past I did not live up to my own expectations as a parent. I was grumpy a lot. More than I needed to be for certain. The mountain of stress bore down upon my shoulders like a can crusher and rather than find a suitable outlet for my pent up frustrations at work I brought it home. My wife and kids were never in any harm of physical violence but that did not mean they probably wondered how little it would take before I would bark at them for some minor infraction or perceived one. Maybe I am making more of this than is due but in hindsight this is my perception.
By the time January came around I was spent and just glad I never had to see my ex-partner on a daily basis. It was time to heal. It was time to reconnect with my family on a very loving personal way. They definitely deserved it. One of the first things to go was daycare. Yes, it is one thing to say you are a stay at home dad and it’s another thing all together when you remove that safety net and actually spend all your time with your kids. Well, one of them anyway. The other child was gliding through Kindergarten and came home by the middle of the afternoon. This gave me the opportunity to reconnect with my kids in a way I had never imagine. Wait…reconnect? Let’s just call it “connecting” because, with the exception of my oldest child when he was a baby, I have been more or less disconnected and more consumed in what I did outside the home than in it. It’s sad to say but it’s true.
I love my kids. We have planted a garden together. They helped do everything from planting to weed picking and watering and to eventual harvesting. We played…a lot. We went to parks, shopping, exploring, and cuddling. This helped me to really grow in how I valued their closeness to me. It’s pretty incredible. At first I was almost ashamed of the title “stay at home dad” but the more people I told it to the more I was realized it was an important job. People would say, “That’s great!” or “It’s the most important job a parent can have.” As I grew in appreciation of the time we have together the more it became pleasing to me. The stigma I placed on myself being the man of the house and that I had to be the wage-earner slowly dissipated.
While I could have probably done with a little counseling, I battled through my own sense of failure over the end of the business I founded but owned very little of in the end. The unfortunate by-product was my need to declare bankruptcy. This I will delve more deeply into in my forthcoming series entitled Confessions of a Recovering Businessman.(working title so if you have a book of the same name don’t sue me. heh.) My wife Robin’s patience was tested for certain as I fought with myself over what I needed to do but was too scared to deal with. Thanks to help from both my parents and in-law, and of course Robin’s support, I finally brought myself to completing the painful process of tallying up my debts and, with the help of a lawyer, filing chapter 7 at the end of August. By the end of November the lion share of my debts were gone and with that a great burden upon my psyche. I am thankful for having such a wonderful cast of friends and family that has helped me through it.
Ok, now what? Well, I have come to love my life. I love spending time with my children and focusing my positive energies on our home. Despite this we as a family need me to make some money. The salary of a teacher is modest but it is painfully clear we need a little more. We have rearrange priorities, squeezed budgets, and lived credit free(over 2 years now). We follow a budget and the principles of Dave Ramsey. So, for 2011 I will try as I might to peaceably marry my desire to be a stay at home dad with the need to work around our families schedule. I am ready to work and know I have so much to offer an employer but the trick is getting them to notice. Come on, 2011! I am ready for you after this.