Friday, August 3, 2012

Leaving the Middle-Class Trap

In 1996, The Onion described the irony of modern life for the middle class.

Middle Class Irony

It's incredible that most of us live like that, unable or unwilling to see the irony.

Our family is going through some difficult changes now. To escape the ironic lifestyle, to be able to see her kids more than a tired hour per day, my wife has found a new job. This job will allow her to work from home a lot, which is the good part. The bad part is that there will probably be a lot of travel, too. And the worst part is that now, because it's a new job, she must leave home and travel to the end of the world (Seattle), and stay there for a couple of weeks (then return to Baltimore for a week, then again to Seattle for even longer).

It's not going to be easy for me, it's not going to be easy for the kids, and it's definitely not going to be easy for my wife, who will have to settle for Skype to see her kids.

But it's worth it. It's worth it because we must escape this terrible contradictory, ironic life. The idea of being with the kids and NOT being exhausted is something I experience every few days, but it's something she knows nothing about.

For 4+ years, she had woken up, rushed to work, and come home just in time to make dinner (after a day at work, she now faced a tired husband demanding a break and tired children who needed to sleep but didn't know it). Then she cleaned up the kitchen, and went to bed, falling asleep less than an hour later. And when people mentioned women who "had it all," they were talking about her. She had a great job, great kids, a beautiful husband, and a new Prius V. She had it all, alright.

And that's the sad irony of the middle class. Being constantly tired, spending a couple of hours driving to and from work, seeing kids an hour a day at their worst and at her worst is not even considered settling. It's the good life, because we could spend time on the weekends, and because we could travel as a family once a year.

Only it's not the good life. It's the middle-class trap, and it's something we should escape from or we'll sink into the same old tired routine that will end up destroying us.

Two weeks in Seattle is a small price to pay. Constant travel later in the year is nothing, compared to the benefits of being able to spend weeks together as a family.

It's hard, and my wife is a little depressed after two days in Seattle. This post is for you, Honey. I know it's hard, but you're pulling us out of the middle-class trap. You're our hero.

Baltimore to Seattle


  1. I hope this change gives you all more time together as a family. We have made many lifestyle changes and professional sacrifices to escape the exhausting desire to have it all. So far we've been much happier. I hope these first few weeks of the new job go by quickly for your wife. She sounds like a pretty amazing person!

    1. She is, she is. I think it'll get better after the weekend. She needs some rest, and she's going to meet friends in Portland. The new life will make sense soon enough.

  2. Congratulations on your escape plan. Happiness and energy up ahead.

  3. The truth is I have the best husband in the world who helps me make the right decisions for our family, Without any hesitation and with the knowledge that it might totally suck. I'm pretty sure he's the hero. And yes Kim please come.

  4. Hi BF, It definitely is a trap that we have tried to avoid for many years. My wife stopped working when we had our first. It was our escape plan. Of course, that meant that we would have to live on less, but there would be only one of us with a nightmare commute and one-hour-a-day. My oldest is in college now, so we almost made it through. A layoff earlier this year has disrupted the plan -- for now.

    Hang in there!

    1. Thanks. I've been home since our boy was born, so at least we had the idea of not working all day to afford infant day care right.



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