Dreams of A Diplomat: The Long Haul

by Just Juan

“You’re either in it for the long haul or you’re not” – Crystal Gayle

Last month, Mercedes and I dealt with our worst moment as parents. Ashton spent 1 ½ weeks in the pediatric intensive care unit at Children’s National Medical Center after coming down with the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Seeing my 10-month-old connected to machines was tough to endure. It certainly has changed as a parent. More than that, it has changed Mercedes as a parent. For the first time since we moved to the DC area, she has this overwhelming urge to leave…to get back to the South, where she feels our lives would be more stable…and more importantly, she believes Ashton would be safer there. That scare with the youngster also brought into question concerns she has about my ultimate objective, which is the Foreign Service Facility Manager position. She hasn’t directly said it but I sense that she would prefer for me to strongly consider something else for Ashton’s sake.

Let’s make no mistake about it: Ashton’s well-being is absolutely a top concern for me. I certainly haven’t been fiscally conservative when it comes to getting him what he needs. But I don’t share in my wife’s concern that the Foreign Service lifestyle may be a disadvantage for him. If anything, I think it may be a boon for him overall. Aside from the fact that he would have the chance to grow up in an international setting and learn a different language or two, he’ll get to attend some of the best international schools in the countries we would reside in. And I’m sure that the Department of State would provide some of the best pediatric healthcare out there for the children of its diplomatic staff.

I get it. What we went through last month was scary. It was a reminder that we’re mortal and that my son isn’t an exemption to that. But I still believe that what I can do for Ashton in the Foreign Service lifestyle is a lot better than what I can do for him in Alabama, Georgia, or Texas…all places my wife would probably be more comfortable living after this health scare. At the end of the day, the goal still remains to be a Foreign Service Facility Manager. I’m in this for the long haul and until I get there, I’ll continue to sacrifice as much as I can for my family but the goal post is still in the same spot for me.

EDITOR NOTE: This post was originally written on 2/24/2019 during my 16-month hiatus from The Book of Juan.

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