My youngest son finished his last examination at high school this week. Next week, he begins his post-secondary life. This also means that my wife and I no longer have any children in primary or secondary schools. We have seen them through K-6, middle-level, and high school.
No big deal, you say? I guess not, but it is a milestone for our family. We decided, just a few months before our eldest son was about to begin kindergarten, that we wanted to have one parent at home for a few years. The primary school they both attended is just around the corner from our home, but we still thought the sacrifice of money and career for one of us was worthwhile. So we decided that I would be the stay-at-home parent. This would also mean that I could pursue a dream I had of starting up my own business.
That was in 1992. During the summer, I did a few odd jobs for my previous employer designing database applications and letting contacts know I was beginning a new part-time custom application development business. Soon, I was modifying a custom application for a local manufacturing company in Kitchener and within another few months I was beginning serious work with the newly released Microsoft Access. Since 1993, I developed custom database applications using Access for my clients while staying at home. The idea was that as soon as both boys were in safely through kindergarten, I could look for full-time employment once again.
But my business was going well. And we both liked the idea that I could manage my time to attend events with our boys, whether it was sports, class trips, or even helping out in the classroom with enrichment studies for children improving their reading skills.
Yes, having my own business took time to develop to a point where the remuneration was comparable to what I had given up. But we were all quite happy with the arrangement and I did get to spend a lot of quality time with our boys over the years as they moved through schools.
Now, although I am picking up some of my custom application development business again after my bout with cancer last year, I have full-time work as an IT Manager. Our boys are young men now, either in university or earning money to pay their way for post-secondary education. There is no doubt that we would have been better off financially if we had simply gone with a day-care arrangement and after-school care when they were in primary school. But we did alright. We have a strong relationship with our boys. We are both immensely proud of them and we both still have careers that bring in a reasonable amount of income.
We all make choices, of course. But as I reflect on this milestone in the Spencer family, I'm feeling pretty good about the choice we made, about the family we have, and about the future prospects for both my wife and me and our two handsome sons.