The Hardest Thing I Did This Year

The Hardest thing I did this year was being a husband.

2014 as a whole was full of challenges. At HowAboutWe, a lot went into scaling up our media properties and migrating in Nerve from Drupal, which does the majority of traffic. It ended up polished, fast, and acquired by IAC (owner of Match.com/OkCupid). At Code and Theory, building and launching the new Vogue.com was a beast full of 80-100 hour work weeks to ship that awesome site. Those are challenges I’m used to and know how to face. It’s code. It’s what I do, but being a husband, that was new territory and I wasn’t prepared.

Relationships vs. Repositories

15735692Unlike a repository, where I can push up a bug fix and everything is better, for some reason my relationship with my wife, Holliday, doesn’t work like that. Even if I figure out what I did wrong (Because it’s me that’s wrong. Even when I’m not, I am), everything isn’t fixed instantaneously. It takes time to propagate.

Work-Wife Balance

I tend to get absorbed by work, bringing it home with me or working late at the office. When our relationship started getting serious, I was at WooThemes and shifted to a somewhat (totally) nocturnal sleep schedule. I liked communicating in real-time with my coworkers in Europe and Africa. It was more or less the middle of my work day when Holliday got home at night, so we had very little quality time together.

At HowAboutWe, I got on a normal sleep schedule, but still worked late in the office. I liked what I was doing, loved the company culture and the people I worked with, and had a codebase that I enjoyed waking up to in the morning. At least I was heading in the right direction.

At Code and Theory, the rebuild of Vogue.com was ramping up when I came on board. I was brought on specifically with this project in mind; it had a great team in place that I’m proud to say I had the opportunity to work with. This was a huge project with hard launch dates in place for advertising and Fashion Week and ongoing new features over time. As those long weeks rolled on though, it was becoming apparent where I wanted my priorities to be. I was about to get married, yet I was going long stretches without even seeing Holliday. Wedding planning decisions were made via texting between git commits. I was even in the office the day of our rehearsal dinner until right before my train was leaving for a 2 hour ride to Long Island. I’m glad I made that train!

Since the Vogue relaunch, I’ve been getting home at a normal hour (7pm-ish), and we get to enjoy the evenings together. Holliday leaves around 6:30am to start her day as a math teacher so I wake up then and spend the mornings on my own projects before going to work. She gets home a couple of hours before me, so we still miss out on that window of time we could have together.

Looking Forward

Being able to have that time together, especially so early in our marriage, is up towards the top of my priority list. That, in combination with wanting the flexibility to work from home, to spend time on side projects like premium themes and plugins, and to contribute more to open source projects like WordPress core, my own plugins and others, has led me to the decision to end my run as a Senior Developer at Code and Theory. We’ve fortunately worked out a positive outcome, with me giving a month of notice to be able to tie up loose ends and get a current project to a point where it could be handed off to a new lead dev on the project.

I welcome what the new year holds in store: being a better husband, growing as a programmer, and pursuing the work-life balance we all seem to be continuously seeking.