Compromise and the long haul are key

Compromise and the long haul are key to our family’s future in the present
By Elizabeth Stuelke


It’s almost the middle of 2016 and I am contacting prospective pools in our new neighborhood about membership. We have settled on our house: it doesn’t have the acreage Morgan hoped for, nor is it the city dwelling I crave, but is a compromise in the great tradition of family living. At least in my mind family living is a tradition of compromise.

I love to involve the kids in (most) all our decisions. I trust they will be able to understand the give and take while we plan how to live together as four similar yet different people. This is a lesson I’ve been teaching, or trying to instill, since Morgan, and then Fisher, was born. To me it is the most important lesson both to my current state of happiness – not too much melodrama – and that of my future self – when I hope to rely on that training to help both kids through the rough spots in daily interaction with classmates, teachers, friends, and other family members. Not to mention the ‘grown-up’ versions of all of the above as they begin their post high school years (only 5 years to go for Morgan).

To say this time of finally settling has been a long-time coming – the 12 years of Morgan’s life as the benchmark for the beginning of this Medical Life – is an understatement. But to all the other lessons I teach the kids I always add that “the long haul is worth it.” The day-to-day follow through, the sacrifices or things missed, and the things that they would not have experienced had we not taken this path, are all worth it.

Suspended in the sky road that leads to the tree

A new favorite example of this perseverance is my nephew and godson (son of my brother who passed away much too soon), who just graduated from James Madison University with a 4-year degree in Medical Sciences. He is an EMT with the Harrisonburg Rescue Unit, and will be working for the next year while he decides on a specialty: Nurse, Paramedic, PA (not Doctor, he tells me – too long a haul and too much student debt. : )   ). He has a good head-on-his-shoulders, as they say, and looks to the future by making steps to get there in a logical way. His dad and I are very proud of him.

I point to my nephew along with my husband when speaking with the kids about their choices. I spotlight the not so easy but ultimately surmountable, which they both have worked through (along with their close family and friends as support).

That the kids’ future journeys are not too far away is astounding, and frightening. But I truly feel that as we visualize ourselves into the future, we should make the most of our present, a positive life-affirming present that will deliver us to where we want to be.

Living in the present is, of course, key to any childhood. It’s not all talk of college at our house. The kids keep me moving and I keep them busy. As we go to our new house and the life we’ll live there, Fisher will have several weeks of inexpensive summer camps – a couple doing double duty by strengthening his swimming skills! And Morgan will be taking part in a drama camp after she completes Vet camp – she is still thinking Veterinarian as her career and has staked out Cornell Veterinary College as the place to go. She aims high!

And as we look forward to being present in our new house, we are planning what to put in it. Beyond Satre’s artwork and that of others we’ve been collecting along the way, we also want handmade/made in the USA custom pieces to augment our beautifully finished house (the previous owners went all out in their choice of wood and other materials and finishes – just like Satre would have). We will look to Etsy for things to continue that hand-picked feeling. And we have two wonderful pieces from First Chair Upholstery here in Lewisburg and a great handmade rocking chair from Lost Creek Woodworking.

I can almost see us splashing around in that neighborhood pool, finally feeling stable enough to venture into new friendships, not worrying that we will be leaving in 1 – 4 years. We will be staying put, finally. I am really looking forward to it.

I am looking forward to continuing to dream about our future. But I am most excited about being in a present I know will be there into the future that we are in the process of making. Home is where the heart is, and now that all our hearts will be in our new house, this will be the best home we can make together as a family. Long hauls, compromises, and all.


Elizabeth Stuelke has been living with her artist-turned-physician husband, now in his last year of training in Radiology, for 15 years. She has been writing for longer than that. They have two children: a girl age 11 and a boy age 8. They live now in Baltimore and Central PA (respectively, Elizabeth in Lewisburg with the kids). Elizabeth began her career in the arts, has worked in the corporate world, views her kids and family as her creative work for the past 11 years, and now finds herself somewhere that feels like a beginning. Contact her at, and check out her husband Satre’s most recent artwork at


Furniture and Art Links:

First Chair Upholstery, Lewisburg PA

Lost Creek Wood Working, Watsontown PA (ships all over)

Dr. Satre Stuelke, MD, MFA.




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