Monday, September 3, 2012

"I could write a book about what I don't know," guest post by Mike

My lovely bride really laid one on me the other day.  Out of the blue, she said to me, “I think you should write on my blog.”

To which I replied, “What would I write about?” 

“You really understand finance and budgeting, and I think you would have a lot to say about being a Catholic husband and father in today’s world.”  The truth of the matter is I really wanted to be a part of her blog, but I didn’t want to ask.  This is something that she started, and I didn’t want her to feel any pressure from me regarding her work.

So, the question I started asking myself was, what in the world do I have to write about?  I am a working husband and father who has to balance three children, a one income budget, and a very demanding career that has just culminated in a move to the Bay area of California.  I am by no means unique although my wife sometimes says I’m one of a kind.

As I was thinking about what to write, I was listening to one of the songs on heavy rotation in our house-- Ryan Bingham's “I Don’t Know.”  The thought process took me on a one minute journey through the last 15 years of my life and what I knew to be true.  Below is a quick list of what I knew and at what age I knew it…

Age 19 – I knew I loved college and had plenty of time there.  Also, I knew I met the love of my life.

Age 20 - I knew I had plenty of time to get my grades to where my parents wanted them.

Age 21 – I declared business my major and knew that I would do something international.

Age 22 – I knew that I was doing nothing international but was going to move near Kate and marry the love of my life after graduation.  Also, I went to work for a company to “get some experience” and then move on after a year or two.

Age 23 – I knew I had life figured out and married my wife.

Age 24 – I knew I only wanted 1 or 2 children (max).

Age 25 – I knew my wife was going to have a long career as a teacher as she was working on her Master’s degree.

Age 26 – I knew it would be easy to have children.

Age 27 – I knew that having a bunch of credit card debt was normal and okay.  Also, I knew I was ready to re-start my rugby career after a 6 year absence.   

Age 28 – We had lived through two miscarriages, and I knew it wasn’t so easy to get pregnant.

Age 29 – I knew what it was like to be a father; after all, we had 1 under 1.  I also knew we wouldn’t be able to make it long on one income.

Age 30 – We figured out how to live on one income (barely), so I knew that we were ready for a move across the country!    We thought this was a cool idea even though we didn’t have any family within 1500 miles and had somewhere in the neighborhood of $35-$45K in credit card and car debt.  Additionally, I knew that Las Vegas was the perfect place for us. 

Age 31 – I learned that the reality of living in Las Vegas was much harder for our family than I thought it would be.  I knew that God truly does answer prayers when my father survived surgery to fight his pancreatic cancer.  He had lost 25 pounds in two weeks prior as it was ravaging his system.  He is still alive and kicking (one tough Marine!).  (For clarification, I know God would have answered my prayers no matter what the answer was and that one of the answers could have been “no.”  That was just what my religious maturity and understanding was at the time.) 

Age 32 – I knew what it was like to have two children, and two kids were enough!

Age 33 – I knew our family didn’t need the burden of debt, and we paid off everything but the house.  Boom!!

Age 34 – I know what it’s like to have 3 children and that I’m open to more life.  I have a wife who hasn’t worked outside the home since our first was born but busts her butt every day.  I know that I’m fortunate to have worked for the same company for 12 years and want to stay until retirement.  I know I want to live in California for the shortest amount of time possible.  Most important, I know that as I submit myself more to God, I realize more freedom and a fuller life.

Hopefully by now you see how little I’ve known throughout the years.  Clearly some of the "truths" I held turned out to be false.  I think life comes with many wonderful gifts.  One is the gift of self reflection-- looking back at our humble life experiences, saying we’re thankful for them, and learning from the mistakes we’ve made.  Humility is one of those traits that you may not realize you should have during your college years or your twenties.  However, once you have multiple children, it gets easier to be humble (especially in church or at a restaurant).  I can say with complete humility, I know that I am definitely an imperfect husband, imperfect father, imperfect manager/boss, and like my wife, an imperfect Catholic (although she’s less imperfect than I am). 

Humility has taught me not to assume greatness (or any certainty) in for the future, but to instead welcome my struggles as an imperfect man.


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