What Google Taught Me about Family

Kudos to Patrick Pichette, for his memorable memoir announcing his retirement as Google’s CFO.  It is worth reading his words in their entirety for a full understanding of his sentiment.   His plans to travel the world with his wife are quite poetic.

One response from a reader to this post struck me and caused me to question our mindset concerning work/home balance:  “Beautiful, if only more could be at a point in their lives to afford to do this.”

Pause.  Deep breath.

I’m sorry…how can we afford not to?

And backing it up, respectfully, Mr. Pichette, “shouldn’t we start sooner?”   What are we piling up our dollars for?  Is life to the full simply a trip experienced around the world with our wife?

The middle of the night feedings and soft squishy infant moments are just that: a fleeting moment.  The toddling days move faster than one thinks; when learning words and how to crawl are not as slow as we had once thought.  The school age years seem lightening fast and if we miss practices, ball games and recitals…they slip through our fingers never to be touched again.  Cheerios, carseats, and learning to ride a bike are such short seasons.  Seasons that can never be re-created.

Never mind our marriages…the ones we neglect or accept or “power through” as oppossed to cherish and cultivate.  Many many marriages crumble and break when the children are gone.  The work and flurry of activities that once filled our days left no room to live and connect intentionally.   Seeking to intimately know one another was not a priority.

So many of us find significance in the workplace and our work gives us great joy if done well.  Yet, when the workplace replaces our home life and becomes our life, disaster can hit.  No amount of money will bring about lasting childhood memories with mom and dad.  No amount of money will make a more solid marriage than one founded on intentional time together.  I spoke about this couple recently and their commitment to walking daily together.  They did not go on exotic vacations or travel around the world.  They lived frugally and simply and yet they have 41 years of a solid marriage foundation.

Kudos to Mr. Pichette for recognizing a fundamental need in his life and highlighting all marriages and the family by presenting it publicly.  I pray we would sit up and take notice.  I pray we would learn from his words because it is not cute when your children are asked about the longevity of your marriage and their response is, in essence, our parents over the past 25 years, “have spent so little time together that ‘it’s really too early to tell’ if the marriage will in fact succeed.'”  Not cute.  Sad.  In my humble opinion, no job, even if it is CFO of Google is worth having an absent parent, or an absent husband/wife.  Life to the full does not start on a trip around the world…it starts today…in the messy little events of daily life.  Do not over value the things that will leave you wanting.   No job is worth losing the intangibles you can never get back.

Don’t get me wrong I love Google as much as the next person…I have an account and use it daily!  I just couldn’t help but highlight Mr. Pichette’s story, his refreshing honesty brings about helpful conversation for us all.

May You Be a Blessing and May You Be Blessed,

Jenni

One Thing You Could Do Daily to Preserve Your Marriage

I grew up in a small town in Indiana where cornfields cover much of the landscape.  Crickets and fireflies start their serenade around 7pm and the rest of the town goes to bed shortly there after.  I lived in a tight knit community where everybody knew everybody.  Some families were so close they were like family.  Carrie’s family was like family.   Though I don’t remember being spanked by Carrie’s mom, I am sure she had permission to do so…it was that kind of family friendship.

One of my favorite childhood memories was sleeping over at Carrie’s house on Friday nights.  Carrie’s dad was a police officer and on Saturday mornings he would heroically deliver Burger King egg and cheese croissants to the breakfast table.  (It must have been some sort of benefit Burger King gave police officers in our area–think doughnuts in croissant form.  Either way, I was thrilled to be a beneficiarcy.)   I still get nostalgic thinking about biting in to a buttery croissant while listening to Carrie’s dad dish the police events from the night before.   In high school Bob would tell saucy stories of tipsy sorority sisters, or frat brothers getting a little too mouthy.   Carolyn (Carrie’s mom) would pipe in at times with an, “Oh BOB!” if things seemed a bit past the PG-13 mark.  I treasured Saturday mornings at their house…but it wasn’t my strongest memory of this couple.

Creatures of habit…hence the BK breakfast every Saturday…Carolyn and Bob  had an unmissable morning ritual.    Religiously the couple would roll out of bed and walk 5 miles every day.  Rain, shine, snow…it was all the same.   Day in and day out the duo pounded the flat pavement.  Five miles every day.

Chris and I have been given the unique opportunity to live on a 600 acre property with neighbors a few steps away as well as 24/7 security.  This has afforded us the opportunity to leave our kids each morning to go on a 2 mile walk.   Our energetic lab puppy was the main catalyst for this decision, but it has proven very healthy for our hearts and our marriage.   Somehow moving through the dusty red roads each morning has given a rhythm to our day.   The conversation allows us to connect on a deeper level before the rest of the world invades our space.  We sometimes walk in silence, sometimes our conversations pull from something residual the day before.  Small irritations surface, and a disagreement will follow.  I am so thankful for these impromptu disputes as I am certain those irritations would be stuffed and buried beneath the hustle and bustle of daily life…till one day they emerge a mountain of discontent.  The words shared on our walks can be deep and weighty, and other times simply lay out the schedule for the day.    I am realizing how very much I cherish this time.  It is making a life-long investment in our marriage.    There is something about physically moving our bodies and pounding out the issues of the heart that is quite sacred.

As a child, I don’t know if I thought Carolyn and Bob were a bit crazy to walk 5 miles in the freezing cold, or if I was really neutral to the whole thing?   They never made a big deal about their walks…they just did it.  Looking back, I can tell it was good for their hearts physically but maritally it was a brilliant investment.   Their devotion made a mark on me. I admire their discipline and commitment to one another, and 41 married years later, they are still walking.

I know some couples talk quietly over a cup of coffee in the morning.  Others enjoy “couch time” where mom and dad sit uninterrupted for 20 minutes to discuss the day…kid free.   Still others sneak away for a lunch break.   What would it look like in your world to pull together daily to connect with your spouse?  There is no magic bullet for life long marital bliss…but this is a great starting point.

As this week marks our 16th wedding anniversary, I realize more than ever this kind of spousal connection is crucial for continued health in our marriage.  Marriage is not easy…it takes work.  I want to be remembered by my children and my children’s friends for many things…but I sure wouldn’t be disappointed if Chris and I were remembered as the crazy couple who walked together every morning.

In appreciation of…

Bob and Carolyn Vogel.  Grateful for your example and for living out the little things that make a big impression.

Chris for 16 sweet years of walking this journey with me.

May You Be a Blessing and May You Be Blessed,

Jenni