Today, my better half, Edith, departed to Eastern Oregon on a small chartered plane as part of her consulting work. The client had been coming here to Beaverton off-and-on the last few months and now it was time to meet the board and staff and take their group one step further. But there was a time after active-duty (2013-early 2015) when I was so busy working that all Edith could do was support me, raising our daughters, and holding down the fort and putting her dreams on hold. But these can only be bottled up for so long.

In 2013, I commuted downtown Portland to NedSpace while learning ruby, building our family’s federal contracting business landing minority and veterans certifications and one federal VA contract valued at $769,000 if base year+options years extended. During this period I also attended RailsConf at the Portland Convention Center, the National Veterans Small Business Conference in St. Louis, TechStars Patriot Boot Camp at George Washington University and visited Kentucky a total of x3 times.

In 2014, I took front-end web development coursework at Thinkful, attended Ruby on Ales in Bend, learned enough Ruby on Rails and launched the BilingualHire app, founded Operation Code, and freelanced for a number of very small business owners.

In 2015, I spent the first part of the year with Operation Code learning the nonprofit ropes with a fiscal sponsor/agent and the latter half as an incorporated Oregon nonprofit and forming a governing board of directors. I attended Ruby on Ales in Bend, Dreamforce and Twilio’s SignalConf in San Francisco. Mid-summer last year we also put our SE Portland house on the market, rebranded our contracting business, and won an $88,000 Corps of Engineers federal construction contract.

These years have been formative, but they’ve only been about me, and oddly enough have resulted in little or no pay. Thus far. In a balancing act, in balancing a marriage and raising a family it can often feel (see above) like raising children alone.

I can remember the exact moment in an argument about being there and striving to balance family and work early last year. Edith’s point, “you don’t let me.” A reference not to my work, but to being so focused on my work didn’t allow Edith to build her own.

Balancing family and work is tough when you have small children, a business, projects and another type-A spouse with a business and projects. It feels good stepping back, supporting Edith, cutting work early to pick up the girls at school, enjoying dinner and a movie on our own, and providing Edith the space and time to be creative and produce some amazing results. Balance.