On July 19th, we closed on the first home we ever bought together. We left the house at 8:57am, dropped Jasper off at the groomer's, picked up a Chick-Fil-A breakfast, and went to a friend's house to shower. Then, we spent an hour of sitting in a lawyer's office, sipping our Starbucks and signing forms, transferring funds. Afterward, we drove to my work for the last time (at least as an employee). I said some more goodbyes, and Jonathan carried out a heavy box which represented over 8 years of my time there. We picked up the kids from daycare and took pictures of them with their teachers while I very poorly held back tears. We came back to the house that no longer belonged to us, and I hopped in the driver side of a 26" truck to make the two day trek back to Florida. Florida, our former home, and the place we vowed we would never move back to. But here we are!
The first reason we've given to all of our friends or anyone who has asked about our move is that we wanted to get closer to family. That much is very true. The first year of Archer's life (or, life with two kids and both parents working outside of the home) was exceptionally difficult due to all of his ear infections. Almost every week, Jonathan and I were having to rearrange our work schedules to accommodate for sickness (thank you, employers, for being so accommodating.). It's hard to emphasize or explain how stressful that 9 month period was, especially being on the outside of it now for over a year, but it was just really very difficult. It sounded really nice to move closer to family.
But over the past year plus of "planning the move," I think we both started cultivating just a completely different idea of what life could look like. Jonathan had a 35+min commute (one way) in South Carolina. A commute that he had been driving for over 11 years. His job/employer is great! But that commute sucks. And I'm not even the one who has to drive it. But it did add several layers of complications to our life, especially once the kids started coming. Overall, though, we wanted to reduce the amount of time he was spending on the road (consuming fuel, producing harmful emissions; consuming time away from family, producing an informed perspective a la podcasts). His company's main office is located in the town he grew up in. Job transfer? Check!
I've also been feeling the pull to leave my current career as a registered nurse to stay home with the kids. This is laugh out loud funny to me, especially when I think about how in college I never wanted to marry anyone and never wanted kids, and overall was just very career focused/driven as the determining factor of success. It's hilarious when God is like, um, nope, I have something different (and greater, and better, and yes perhaps more challenging, too) in store for you!
So, with me quitting my job, and our desire to get Jonathan closer to his workplace, the best solution is to move to a more expensive region of the US, right??!
It didn't take long for us to realize we would need to do a lot of downsizing. We're in our 30s, and this seems to be the time when peers start being able to afford expensive toys (boats, pools, new cars, kitchen remodels, etc etc)...and here we are spending over $100,000 more for a new house that's around half the size of our original home, on one income.
We've been praying about this a long time (and have so many other prayer warriors doing the same), but I think our hearts are prepared for the change. We have told God that we are ready to be tested and to learn new lessons. We've been so accustomed to doing what is "right" financially: tithing, no debt, no credit card balances, putting substantial amounts of income into savings/retirement...and never really feeling the strain in our budget! The freedom of travel and large food expenditures. I mean, you know we've always been frugal. Like, freedom of travel sometimes means going to Hawai`i and camping the whole time. Now it's the realization that Hawai`i may not be here for us, at least in this phase.
Also, I know "simplifying life" is very trendy right now and maybe this just seems like we're jumping into the latest fad. I'm not here spouting off about capsule wardrobes or konmari'ing your house (which I love to do, by the way), but instead talking about a real life change for us. We sold Jonathan's car, which might make no real sense for most people, considering we've owned the car in full for years now and the insurance isn't that much. But with our new life in mind, we're picturing him bicycling to work and me reducing our carbon footprint severely by minimally using our vehicle for the day-to-day.
It's not just figuring our how to food plan on a budget, but how to food plan on a budget with consideration toward where the plant was grown or the animal was raised, and also with our health in mind.
It's fitting three kids in one room, not just for space saving reasons, but also so they grow up without feeling entitled toward their living area. So they'll fight and learn how to resolve conflict. So they'll grow up and have a relationship that endures. So they'll innately know life isn't easy and we shouldn't expect that. So they'll be kind toward one another and the world.
It's realizing the excess in our life, removing it, and not finding a replacement for it. Stop the cycle of consumerism. The end.
Did we really have to move to Florida to figure this stuff out? No, of course not. But I think the circumstances I mentioned above kinda forces us to. And, hey, we're closer to family now!