Chris always teases me, "Are you going to cry on our boys' first days of school?" He already knows the answer. Yes, I'm going to cry. After all, I cried on Monday on his own first day of school - his first day as a full-time grad student!
It has been a long time coming.
When we were on our honeymoon in the Philippines, Chris got an email asking if he would be available to come interview for a job at ND the day after we got back from the Philippines. He had taken two weeks off of work so we could be in the Philippines for a week and a half and then adjust back from the jet lag in our new home of Chicago so technically the interview was still on our honeymoon. I remember Chris looking at me in our hotel room full of Filipino rattan furniture. He asked if I minded if he interviewed. He had just recently started a lucrative job - and he was the youngest hire ever in the company at that - but we knew that it was all wrong for him. This was the first test of marriage, I thought simply. Pout that we would not be spending absolutely every minute of our honeymoon together or support him in searching for some stepping stone out of what seemed to be an endless future of being unfulfilled.
And so we made it to South Bend, as jet lagged as you can be. I sat in the car wondering if anything was going to come from it while listening to big fat rain drops pitter patter on the rooftop.
Nothing did come from it initially; someone else got the job. We forgot about it in the midst of our love affair with Chicago. But that rainy and groggy interview thanks to Chris' persistent foot-shoving to keep closing doors open ended up bringing us back and starting a two and a half year plan for Chris to start graduate school in a field he actually enjoyed.
I thought it was fitting that Chris received his acceptance email on an important day. (Come on, graduate school ... there is something about receiving a big envelope in the mail rather than clicking on your inbox ... look at me, freshly 25 and already waxing poetic about yesteryear and the previous quarter of a century of my life). On Ash Wednesday, the day that reiterates the call to humble our hearts, we saw mercy in the form of a click and a welcome. The light at the end of the tunnel was no longer a flickering speck we could see only when squinting; it was a big, doggone fire sending warmth right back at us. Hello, light! Hello, graduate studies in theology - a Masters in Divinity, specifically!
The whole time that the boys and I drove back from Ohio to pick Chris up from the Chicago airport, I kept crying because I am so indescribably proud of Chris and entirely happy for him. He has been studying subjects and working in fields that were less than fulfilling for a decade now. We have been so blessed for Chris to have had work to provide for us. So blessed. Nevertheless, I do cry thinking about all of the personal sacrifice that he has put himself through for our relationship and our family. We have not struggled to find housing or food, we aren't homeless, we aren't addicts, but being unfulfilled is humbling, and it is hard. It is draining. His detour through unfullfilling fields has been a great teacher. We know to stay humble. We know to pray. I don't even know how many novenas St. Josemaria Escriva and St. Jude have heard from us. We know how to love others when they are unkind and when it seems impossible to do. We know someone is laughing at our plans.
We walked/biked with Chris for a bit on his first day.
It will be a stretch, but a good, deep stretch after being crammed in an incredibly frustrating rut. We are fortunate to live in South Bend, where every other family at the park has a spouse (sometimes both!) getting a graduate degree. I have my kind, veteran friends to help us ride the waves from our cannon ball into this program by letting me ask a million questions and answering with the tricks of the trade. And plenty of friends and e-friends have shared their grad school family bits of knowledge. Everything will definitely be quite the adjustment! We currently only have one computer - a desktop - so I'm penning this weblog via, well via pen and then I'll probably type it up. Chris will work part time, and I have been working part time since January. We are cutting back even more than we already did, but we don't mind being skinny in the spending department. It won't be all sun!shine and woe-ses as Ryan says, but we are welcoming the PB&J's and rice and beans with open arms.
I'm honored that Chris sees us as a support that can help him get through the coming years of intense studying rather than a burden pulling him back from the starting line.
^^^ The night that Chris submitted his personal statement for the application, Conor was burning the midnight oil and still playing his, "Ryan is asleep! I want to play!" gig. ^^^
^^^ I left the room to get something or other the morning that Chris had his interview. I came back to see that he was studying for the interview while balancing both of our boys on his lap. I love him. ^^^
0% he was going to stand for a first day of school post, but I like this better. Off to set the world on fire!
So here's to it, Christopher Harrington, husband of my life!
No need to worry about making us proud. You already have.