It’s been several months since the last post. What can we say… we’ve been busy. The good news is that the busyness has provided inspiration for new content. This one, however, comes from the stack of drafts.
A few months back I was listening to The What’s Up Next Podcast with a panel of all women to discuss if there were differences in the FI experience between genders. One of the panelists made a statement about inserting herself into situations, groups, discussions etc., to put herself out there and to have a voice in areas dominated in population by men. I can’t recall exactly how she phrased it, but she inspired the OG’s to write a post about their wives. Her voice shone a light on the importance of including their stories, as they are now woven into our own. Although neither take an interest in this blog, they both are amazing and equal contributors to the success of our families.
(OG1 will have a distinct post)
OG2: When the future Mrs. OG2 and I met, we couldn’t have been on more opposite sides of life direction. She had it all together, whereas I did not. She’ll be quick to tell you that the only reason she agreed to date me, was that I worked at a bar in our college’s small town. It came with an unwritten perk that we never would wait in line to get into any bar and rarely paid for drinks or bands. Think Hootie and DMB making a name for themselves, with she & I not paying a dime. Which is essential because I was beyond broke. By this point I was about to graduate and had little planned. While her resume was already fully stocked.
The Work Resume
Years prior, as a freshman, she was accepted into the Disney internship program. When I graduated, she was headed to Hilton Head to do another internship at an oceanfront hotel. She made some calls and got me job bartending at the pool/ocean bar.
After she graduated we moved to Palm Beach Florida, for no other reason than we hated cold weather, where she worked for Tiffany’s. She then transitioned down the road to the Four Seasons hotel. Andersen Consulting (Accenture) came in one week for an internal conference. There meeting’s person was faltering badly. My wife stepped in and managed the event from start to finish. Upon their departure, one of the executives noted that if she ever wanted a job to give them a call. Well, after a year in Florida, getting married and racking up a pile of credit card debt, it was time to get serious about our careers. So, off to DC (Northern Virginia) we went.
She immediately landed that promised job. As per the usual, she knocked it out of the park, parlaying that into a promotion over at Arthur Andersen. She was one of the last to move between companies before the formal split. Fortunately, she was long gone before the Enron debacle.
Her next move was interesting and led to nearly a decade with the Thompson corporation. She was in a mixed business unit office in Herndon VA. The primary business unit of the building was sold and everyone was laid off, including my wife. She had only been there a few months and didn’t report up through the jettisoned unit. She may have cried for about hot minute before laying down a plan to fly to Boston and meet with her boss. Two days later, she had not only retained her job, but now had the added perk of working from home. As a side note, that led to me fashioning an old barn door into a desk for her. She kept that for 5 years. Those were some good times. As we didn’t have kids, when she traveled for work, I would frequently tag along as the only cost was the flight (man I wish I knew about credit card churning back then). Soon after our 2nd child, she was laid off (a general consolidation) and that led to a blip at Bearing Point while she looked for a more permanent stop.
She’s been with her current company for over a decade. Hired as a Director (which she felt she was under qualified – pat on my back as I encouraged her to fake it until she made it), that quickly turned into a VP title. She’s been the breadwinner since that promotion and that suits me just fine. I keep teasing her that the sooner she gets the next promotion, the sooner I can retire. She has much loftier goals than the next promotion. Her goal is to be the first female in her company to be in the C-suite.
Wife & Mom
Where do I start on these? As great as she is at her career, she’s even better as a wife and mom. I could fill a volume alone on how she has helped transform me in nearly all aspects of my life. My attitude, ability to care about others, knowing when to keep my mouth shut and on and on. She’s always been supportive when things didn’t break my way. From a financial support, she has always handled the day to day handling of bills and money. It wasn’t until finding FI, that she gladly handed that responsibility over to me after 20+ years of steering the ship. As I’ve mentioned before, despite our many financial faults, we’ve always maxed out our 401k(s). That’s a saving grace for our respective retirements.
The one that will stand out to most, is her role as a mother. Admittedly, we didn’t know anything about being parents. No babysitting background, no younger cousins to care for, no neighbors with younger kids to look after. In other words, we were terrified. After the birth of our first child I remember driving home from the hospital with our first, I went 35 in a 60 on the highway. Well, life always throws curveballs and after a year of no developmental progression, we began to realize our first son had challenges. This wasn’t something that was obvious and our understanding has been a slow evolution. In short, he is physically and mentally, globally retarded. Before you get worked up over the word, that is the clinical term. After hundreds of tests, they all came up negative. We have no label for his condition. He basically has no skill set over a 1 year old. He didn’t walk until he was 7, doesn’t talk and doesn’t even understand the concept of chewing food. He sleeps in an adult size crib that I built from a bunk bed frame, completely enclosed for his safety. He still wears diapers and is transported in a wheelchair. However, this post isn’t about him. So, not only were we new to parenting, but now we faced the additional challenges of how to best care for him. I cannot sufficiently put into words the strength and fortitude it takes to be positive, to keep your nerves together, to constantly advocate for his care and fight the varying systems. But, my wife never wavered. Keep in mind, she never stopped working, never ceased managing the finances and all the other tasks of life during this time.
A precursor to all of these roles, she has been a fantastic daughter and sister. She never got into any notable trouble growing up, emotionally supported everyone during her parent’s divorce and always lent a hand to her sister’s school work as she struggled with a slight learning disability. She persevered her father’s premature passing, while 8 months pregnant with our 2nd child.
Please keep in mind, this is only a brief synopsis of an amazing human being. Perfect? Of course not. But, it took more effort to pare down the length of this post than it would have taken to continue typing for 1000s of more words.
All in all, I’m pretty damn lucky to have her as my partner in crime. Hopefully some of y’all will get to meet her next year, as I’m set to drag her to a CampFI or Jillian’s gig in Montana. I would imagine she would both empathize and scoff at those who wilt or whine under the various weights women bare in life. Just another duality of her caring and toughness that she carries with her at all times.