I love looking into the future. Future for me means possibility, planning ahead, and organizing things from scratch, three things I love. And when the subject matter is about something like my family, even more exciting. So I couldn't help but think about long-long-long-term ideas about our family when I was last walking from home to school. I shared these ideas with Amy and told her they weren't plans, nor were they even things I necessarily wanted, let alone being able to predict if I would want them way down the road. But it's fun for me to dream, so here's what I dreamed:
It is June 2016. Having finished grad school in 2006, I took a job at Company X and have now worked there for exactly ten years. We had adopted Jada in 2005 so she's now 11. We then adopted babies from China in 2007, 2009, and 2011, and they are 9, 7, and 5, respectively. Jada just finished 5th grade, Baby A 3rd grade, and Baby B 1st grade, and Baby C is looking forward to starting kindergarten in the fall. All of them go to the public school two blocks from our house, which has continued to thrive thanks to heavy involvement from the University of Pennsylvania.
I am able to finagle a West Coast assignment from my company, so we move to the Bay Area for three months to be near my parents, who are now in their early 70's. Amy and I are glad our kids get a chance to live in California and be near their grandparents for once. And I have to travel back to Philadelphia for meetings and clients frequently that summer, so I get to stay in touch with friends and church life there.
In the fall, after three wonderful months in the Bay Area, we move back to Philadelphia and get the kids back into the school swing of things. With Baby C going off to kindergarten, Amy and I finally have the luxury of having all our kids in school during the day. Amy has been thinking about rediscovering her professional side, so she goes back to work on a more regular basis and finds great enjoyment and advancement there. I'm still plugging away at my job, this time angling for an overseas summer assignment.
I'm in luck; I get assigned to go to China for the summer months. Fortunately, ever since we were getting ready to adopt Jada, Amy and I have been slowly gaining skills in conversational Mandarin. We've always wanted to live in China for a few months, to give our kids some connection to their country of origin and further solidify their bilingualness. The 2016-2017 school year is a challenging one for me; since I'm enrolled in Business Mandarin classes, I find myself studying alongside the kids and then some.
May 2017 hits and I head off to China, with my family following behind a month later so they can catch Baby C's kindergarten end-of-year play. Amy basks in the rhythm of life in China and in the friendliness of the people, while the kids quickly make friends and seem to blossom as their Asian side gets a chance to get further defined. As for me, doing business in China proves harder than I even anticipated; I am used to finding communications easy and fun, and having to do it in a language I'm not proficient in is a constant challenge. But I love the experience professionally, and am glad I got to give my family such a unique chapter in their lives.
One night, when the kids are all asleep after a long day of playing outside in the hot sun, Amy and I lie awake in bed. The window is open and the breeze coming in is finally a cool one. It's late August, and we're about to head back home to Philadelphia after three wonderful months in China. I may have to fly back here once or twice, but for all intents and purposes my work here is done. On the professional side, it's been rewarding, I tell myself and my wife, but I'm wondering if it's time for something new.
On the personal side, Amy and I chat about the kids' next year in school. We can't believe Jada is entering the 7th grade; next school year, we'll have to figure out what high school she'll be going to. And Baby C is going into the 1st grade; how did she grow up so fast on us? As we drift off to sleep, I ask Amy, "I wonder what the next ten years will bring?" She nudges me with her elbow and whispers, "You and your dreams about the future . . . " She rolls over and is soon asleep. I'm just a few seconds behind, but not before I think to myself, "How wonderful these last ten years have been, and how I wonder what the next ten years will bring." But before I can begin dreaming, I'm asleep.