Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Setting the World on Fire

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. 

24 comments :

  1. Transitions are so hard and so good! So excited for this new venture for you guys!

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  2. Congratulations to your whole family! These are the kinds of challenges that will make the future even better, which I keep reminding myself as I say similar prayers for guidance!

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    1. And thank you for linking to that novena -- perfect time to pray it myself.

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    2. Glad to have helped you find it! All the prayers in it are perfect. It's great even for me as a stay at home mom since it is both for finding work and to do better in your work.

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    3. Already planning to pray it long distance with both my parents -- we all need it for very different reasons!

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  3. My hubby just finished up grad school. Let me say, it's worth it. It's so, so hard sometimes financially and emotionally when they miss family events and time together. Just work through it. What does he do currently? I might have misunderstood in your post, did you say you will be working part time? I'll pray for your new journey!

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    1. Thanks for the advice, Marjorie! He was in pharmaceutical sales, then medical device sales/surgical consultant and then university development. And yes, I'm working part time. Thank you for the prayers!!

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  4. Oh congrats to Chris and I'm so excited for your family! Being a wife to a grad student certainly has its challenges - but it is so worth it! All the best! If you ever need any advice (you know in case all those grade student wife friends of yours aren't around - hahaha) let me know. :)

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  5. Hooray, Chris! I hope he had a fantastic first day. What an awesome man - that picture of him and your boys on his lap was the most precious thing. Also, hooray for you and for being such a supportive an encouraging wife and not seeing his taking on graduate school as a burden. I think that is where relationships can really take a turn - when you start to keep score. It's so great to read about families doing life so well. Lots of prayers coming your way lady!

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    1. Thanks, Joanna :) No keeping score here! xo

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  6. Congrats to all of you! What an exciting adventure. I can definitely relate because my husband, who has been stuck in a boring, mindless job for the last 5 years, will be starting law school in the fall. He has never been so excited about something in his life (except marrying me and having our son, of course!). It is amazing to see him "come alive" and use the gifts that God has given him. Maybe we can connect when the hard times come (ah, exams!) and rejoice together in the sweet victories (one year done, two to go!). Praying for you, Chris, and your sweet little boys.

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    1. I'd love to! Congrats to your husband and your family! We'll be praying for you, too.

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  7. Congratulations to Chris and the family.

    Also, I just have to say that Chris reminds me if this Danish singer I adore, his name is Teitur Lassen... While I think Chris is more handsome, there's just something about him that is Teitur-like...
    http://img.maniadb.com/images/artist_t/260/150/150623.jpg

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    1. Haha! Chris can definitely put on a skeptical look like that guy.

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  8. Congratulations! The MDiv is such a wonderful journey (and ND is an amazing program) so I hope it will be a great experience for your whole family! I finished my MDiv right before our first baby was born, but my husband has been in grad school part-time for the past two years (and still has several more to go). So this has been pretty much the whole story of our marriage thus far! Lots of sacrifices up front, but well worth it in the end. Hope it will be the same for you, too.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your experience! We are so, so excited about it.

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  9. Congratulations, Harringtons!! You amaze me, and this post is just so lovely. You inspired me to do a novena myself :) xo

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  10. What awesome news! Congratulations!!!!

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  11. So happy for this new chapter in your lives. My husband graduates in July from a Master's program with the military - a long time coming!!

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  12. So happy for Chris! It is such a blessing to see your husband pursuing what he loves, despite any struggles that come because of it. Knowing that Jacob was loving all the new knowledge was what got me through last year. And although we're ready for a break, I know we will be excited when he dives back into student life in a year or so. Good luck! And when/if you need to vent about being the student's wife, know I'm happy to lend you some ears. Squeeze the lil boys for me.

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  13. Congratulations! What an exciting time for your family!!!

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  14. Congratulations! I love that you said the thing about rice and beans. That is what my mom always says about saving money "We will be eating a lot rice and beans."
    So happy for your family. Being fulfilled is so important.

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  15. Go Chris! I'm reading Cedars & Tiny Flowers over breakfast at ASU. I haven't read since institute began and that makes me so sad! Don't be surprised if I comment on every single post once this is over next Wednesday. Anyways... :) Go Chris! This is such a beautiful post. Brad and I are so happy for y'all and we really look up to you both. XO

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