One year ago, I left the corporate world behind and began staying home with my children and teaching them in our home school. I used to work for a Fortune 500 company in one of their manufacturing facilities. I had a good middle management job, had recently received a promotion, and could see myself retiring from there. ‘Why did I leave?’ you might ask.
My wife and I decided from the time we had our first son that we would choose to avoid day care for our children. Life is too short to pay other people to raise them. So we traded a trendy lifestyle for a modest one so that we could be sure that one of us would be with them. My wife’s career as a Registered Nurse allowed her the flexibility to work weekends, while still being at home with them during the week.
A few years back, I started thinking about what really mattered to me; what was my definition of success? Lot’s of things came to mind: Having a good career, working with integrity, being physically fit, excelling at basketball and volleyball, living by faith, being a good father, loving my wife, becoming a writer, excelling at music… the list was long. Then I began to order the list and see if what I said was important agreed with the check book, the day-planner, and the email inbox. It was not.
Even though I spent adequate time with my family, I was spending far more time pouring my energy and creativity into building machines than building the next generation. My desire was to train my children and lead them to become great men and women. I kept trying to tweak things and make concessions at work to be home more. But as time wore on for me, the deficit between what I wanted to be doing and what I was doing became larger.
The promotion exacerbated the gaps. More money came with more hours and more responsibility. I enjoyed the work, but I felt adrift from my heart.
I talked it over with my wife, prayed about it, felt peace about the decision and turned in my 2 week notice. My wife was able to get a full time position at a hospital. She began working, and I set out to manage a household of 4 children and teach school.
Since then, I have felt more alive and adventurous than ever. Now, when I look at how I spend my time and money, I know that I am doing what I love. I can see the success in my children and know that I am where I am supposed to be.
Every man’s adventure is different. Every day is filled with challenges that I could not have imagined in my old job, but I am so glad that I aligned my heart and my priorities with where I spend my time, money, and energy. I am certain that when my life draws to a close, I will look back on staying at home with satisfaction and know that even though my choices seemed counter-cultural, I lived according to my priorities and had no regrets.
Russ Zacek is married with 4 children. He is a freelance writer from Angier, NC, a stay at home dad, home school teacher, and children’s director at his church.