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Putting It on the Line

Angela Marie A.
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 16, No. 4, July-August 1999 pp. 141-142

Before our children, before our moments were given over to someone other than ourselves, we had each other. We carefully planned what we would do with the time that we would have together. We dreamed a little and decided on the futures that we would share.

We wrote it all out on graph paper-the dreams that we had and the goals we wished to achieve with the support of those around us. My goal was a simple one. I wrote it out. I remember reading it out loud thinking, "He's going to think I'm a nut!" But I read it anyway, "I want to stay home and bake bread."

"Okay," he said. "That's a good goal. We can work on that." I sat smiling, thinking to myself, "Hey! I like this guy!" Actually I love this guy. He has proven to be a stable force in all that is called "family."

He comes from a family that believes strongly in the work ethic. He learned early on that to work is to supply the family its strength and that is what will sustain you. Making ends meet is not always easy when trying to raise three growing boys but his mother and father showed their children that it is possible, though sometimes hard. In doing so, they taught their children to find a steady career and hang on.

When we started dating he was well on his way to a successful career in the fire service. He would go to work for 24-hour shifts and have the freedom of the next 24 hours which were all his own. As we became more serious about each other they actually became 24 hours which were all "our" own. I didn't think I would ever wish to give up those entire days of having him at home.

We married, and following our goals we had two children. I quit my job and with his support I stayed home to devote myself to their loving and care. But the 24 hours became too long. He felt he was missing out on our family. Actually, I knew he was. He missed every other day. He missed half of everything. He needed his children as much as they needed him.

He had always dabbled in the computer field. He took some part-time computer-related jobs to fill in for my missed income and learned a lot from them. He enjoyed working with computers more than any other job he had ever held. One position seemed to hold promise, so he stuck with it even though the time away from home extended far longer than 24 hours. He would leave to work at the firehouse, complete his 24-hour shift, and then go directly to the corporate world of computers. He would put in a full workday and then come home at the end of it exhausted. Meanwhile, we had two very young boys at home. I was worn out. He was worn out. Something had to change.

We both knew that this job could lead to a position with promise. And it did. He was offered a full-time job with the company but for a decrease in pay from what he was making with the fire service. He would be starting over. He would no longer have a pension, paid family medical benefits, or even job security. He had been with the fire service for seven years.

Once again we sat down with graph paper and charted things out. The benefits to us, to our family, far outweighed the decrease in finances. We could cut back on everything if it meant having a husband home every night. We decided we could risk the uncertainty if it meant having a dad at dinner every evening.

He took the job. He gave up the career that he planned out and charted as his destiny to be a father to his boys and a husband to me. He gave up a certain future of work for a certain future of the home. By making this decision, we feel we are teaching our boys that although you may change your mind when you find yourself in the middle, you never give up when you focus on the important things in life. When your focus is on fathering you do what you need to do.

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