By the time you read this, things will be very different around here.
Mike is no longer a full-time poker player. He has a job. The traditional kind of job where one leaves their home, goes to an office, and interacts with people face-to-face. And wears pants.
It's been fourteen months since Mike left Sunbelt to pursue this dream. During that time we put a lot of effort into making the work-from-home scenario a positive one. We were forever communicating with each other, tweaking his work hours, and making adjustments to our expectations in hopes that we would find a system that worked for all of us. I'd like to think that we got to a place where it was a decent arrangement for all of us, but it was never easy. It was never quite what we imagined it to be.
It's hard to have your partner at home, but not available. It's hard to fully function when parts of your home are off-limits. I had difficulty with those concepts, and I'm an adult. For Elena and Eli, at times, it was beyond comprehension. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to shout in frustration, "WE LIVE HERE!" I don't doubt there were choice phrases Mike wanted to shout in my general direction.
It was difficult for Mike as well. A lapse in concentration from an ill-timed interruption could cost him hundreds of dollars. The pressure of being the sole provider, with no guarantee of what income that might be, was often overwhelming.
He had no mentor or friend he could turn to for help in these matters. To this day we don't know of anyone else who was trying to do what we were doing. The few players he knew that had children also had spouses who worked outside the home. They had a steady stream of income from something other than the volatile world of on-line poker. Their kids went to school and daycare. Looking back, we know why there aren't many others like us, trying to make this oddball life work. It's just too hard. The toll it takes on your marriage and your finances isn't worth the freedom and flexibility it provides.
If all of the above gripes were present, but we were rolling around in money, I imagine we would have been more tolerant of the ugly bits. Unfortunately, that was never the case. On the contrary, it's been tight.
Here's where I have the utmost respect for my husband: he's putting aside the dream to do what's best for his family. At this time, it means going back to a job that provides a steady income with benefits. It means putting on pants again.
If for any reason he thinks that this chapter of his life was a failure or a mistake, he's flat-out wrong. I love him for being brave, and quite honestly, cocky enough to try. Despite all the chinks in the walls and maimed keyboards, despite our dwindling emergency fund and neglected 401Ks, despite the miscommunications and irritations, it was by far the best fourteen months of my life.
Our kids had more time with their father than many kids have in a lifetime. I've been spoiled as well. No more leaving Eli at home to finish his nap while I go pick up Elena. No more sleeping in during the middle of the week while Mike takes the kids to school. That's the trade-off for a steady income and a home that no longer functions dually as an office.
I'm not sure how I feel about this turn of events just yet. I've made no secret of the fact that I relish peace and quiet, and that it does my soul good to be in my home alone (or at least alone with children tucked away in bed) every once in awhile. For those reasons, there is a part of me that looks forward to having some solitude and privacy back in my life again. Still, I'm sad for Mike. I'm sad for my family, that we couldn't quite pull off this loony lifestyle.
In the months to come, I hope we'll find some kind of balance and peace again. I hope this opportunity turns out to be a good thing for Mike, that he's challenged and appreciated and rewarded financially for the hard worker he's always been. I hope he can get to a place where poker is fun again, and not just a means to an end. I hope I can remember how to do this mom thing again with my back-up and best friend just up the stairs.
No, we couldn't make it work. It sure was a good run, though.