Five years today we have owned this school.
This school that is most-of-the-time our second home full of family and a-teeny-bit-of-time our prison full of responsibility and limitations.
This school that we often spend hours in after church on Sundays, exhaustedly working when we would rather be laying on the couch watching football (okay, napping for me) after a long week of actual work days.
This school that we run up and down with our little dog in when nobody else is there, laughing until our stomachs hurt.
This school that we fight in when nobody else is there, stressing until our stomachs hurt.
This school where we’ve seen kids living with Autism or other challenges thriving and where we’ve seen people come together to help others in need more times than we can count.
This school that would completely destroy us if it fell apart because our names are on the lease for years regardless of whether we’re in business.
This school where leaders are created and everyone is unquestionably accepted for who they are, not just by our staff but by the other students and parents.
He texted to remind me of this anniversary today, and he thanked me for my part in it. Because he’s kind and thoughtful and he recognizes that building a business together takes two buy-ins, regardless of whether it was that partner’s dream or idea.
Because quite frankly, this wasn’t my dream. It was his. It was his dream since he was 12 years old, and it was clearly not mine by the time I was 19.
We are both comfortable with that fact; I have my passions, he has his. But it would be easier if we were a couple who ran the school together.
It would be easier for him; he’d have a full-time partner who could truly rock at helping run his business.
It would be easier for me; I could have one full-time job instead of one full-time job and two part-time ones. We’d have more home-cooked meals and a less cluttered house. We might have kids of our own running around the school by now.
It would be easier.
But it wouldn’t make me happy or fulfilled. And he would never facilitate a situation where I wasn’t. I cannot adequately express how grateful I am that he has encouraged me to do what’s right for me instead of boxing me into what is right for him.
We are not a couple who runs the school together.
But we are a couple who runs the school together.
And today he thanked me for that, for the sacrifices I have made to make this dream come true for him. Because he is kind and thoughtful. But what he doesn’t think about when he says that is all the ways his dream has helped me chase mine too.
Being a small business owner has made me more empathetic to my clients. Being a small business owner has made me understand my bosses and co-workers more. Being a small business owner has allowed me to not worry quite so much about what my own salary is when things are going well at the school.
Being a small business owner has given me the opportunity to live with someone who is truly happy to do what he does, and to fall in love with the way he uses it to change peoples’ lives.
We are the small business. It is as much of our identity as our own last name. It is interwoven into every piece of our lives and our marriage and our conversations and our responsibilities and our passions.
Five years ago today, we created a new home together. For ourselves. For his students. For their parents and for the relatives and friends who watch them achieve their goals. For this man, who has poured himself into every piece of it.
Here’s to the next five.