Jumping the Fence
Updated: Sep 1, 2017
It's been almost three months to the day since I left my job as a partner in a law firm. This time off has been longer than either of my maternity leaves and the last time I hadn't worked this long was the first year of law school, almost 14 years ago. Of course I still have a "job". I have a newly minted 4 year old and an almost two year old at home, for whom I am the primary caretaker. I also do most of the house and yard work, so those are jobs in a sense, but no one is paying me, so it seems they don't count. Currently, though, I'm sitting at a Culver's on the south side of Chicago, slightly ill from the ice cream I just ate, emailing Vermont roofers and sending my husband lists of items we need to order from Amazon for our new house in Vermont. Culver's has become my "remote" office when our babysitter is over, as the kids are like a couple of bloodhounds that can smell me within 100 yards, and so I can't get anything done at the house when they're in it. The ice cream is just an added bonus/curse.
We're moving to Vermont in May 2018. This was all my idea, and while I'm still partially in love with it, most nights I toss and turn with doubt. You see, before we decided to move, Boris and I were running your standard fairly successful upper middle class household in Chicago. We had one baby, with one on the way, he ran a successful post-production film company with two partners and I was a partner in a small litigation law firm. We owned (and currently own) a lovely brick home built in 1924,with plenty of charm and room, and were starting to build relationships with our neighbors. With our second baby approaching, though, I was lonely. We had no immediate family within two hours of us and most of our close friends from college and early adulthood had fled the city for a simpler life. Both of our commutes were long and neither of us were in love with our careers. So, I started to question, why exactly were we staying in Chicago. Neither of us had a good answer for that question, except that we loved our house and had good, stable jobs. This is certainly enough for plenty of people and sometimes I feel there is something wrong with me that it doesn't feel like enough. Now that we had real live baby that was growing by the minute, we both became daunted by the education choices that were going to be thrust upon us by the time our first child was 4. Would we try to test our kids into public magnet schools or send them to the neighborhood school whose reputation was slowly slipping? We could go the private Catholic route, but we're not Catholic and of course there's a price tag with that. Also, once we started down the private school path, we would be tied to our jobs simply to afford our kids' education. Boris and I both attended public school from kindergarten through high school, and both my parents are retired public school teachers, so this just didn't sit right with us.
To get to the point, here's where we landed - homes in Vermont with a fair amount of land were substantially more affordable than a similar house in Chicago, and of course there is no land to be found here unless you want to commute two hours to the city. Also, my sister lives 15 minutes outside of Burlington with her three kids, which are close in age to my own. Next, public schools in Vermont are better than those in Chicago and there's no testing in anywhere, you simply go to the school closest to where you live. Finally, given the money we'll save on school tuition and the lower cost of living, Boris can pursue a career in home renovations and I have more flexibility to decide whether to continue practicing law or perhaps take another career path.
That means, on August 15th we'll be closing on an old (as in built in 1900) farmhouse set on 22 acres. When I say this house needs some work, what I mean is, when other people have looked at this house they have run the other way (and we did the first time we saw it, but that's another post). We won't be moving until May of next year though, so in the meantime I'll be home with the kids, trying to get our house ready to sell, and Boris is in the process of doing some major renovations on our house (which I'll also share in the future) to make it more attractive to potential buyers and also to hone his renovation skills.
The real question that keeps me up at night though is, will this make us any happier? Will a life that is eventually "simpler" be any more fulfilling, or should we have stuck to our office jobs and just done more yoga?