I was dining with work buddies in July 2019 in Bourbonnais, Ill., a nightly custom during training camp for us in the Chicago Bears media corps. As the conversation centered on youth baseball and elite travel leagues, I wondered whether my 18-month-old son and soon-to-be-born daughter would ever indulge their old man by picking up a ball. Suddenly, my friend, Jeff, threw me a question at which I had no intention of swinging.
"So, Rich, when are you moving to the suburbs?" he asked with borderline-offensive nonchalance. A lifelong Chicagoland resident, he knew how incredible the city's Lakeview neighborhood is and that I lived five blocks south of Wrigley Field.
I'm sure I hemmed and hawed about perks only childless people enjoy. Besides, no decision was necessary until our son reached kindergarten; travel baseball was years beyond that.
The reporter and new dad in me joined forces. I asked the suburbanites at the table: "Why should we move to the suburbs?"
"It's just what you do," Jeff said.
OK, now he was being smug.
Or was he? Weeks passed, and I couldn't shake the simplicity of his answer—or his tone. The more I thought about it, it wasn't smugness, just matter-of-fact. The sky is blue, the sun is hot and you move to the suburbs to benefit your family.
It started to sink in. Jeff's take on moving to the suburbs wasn't about youth baseball but giving to your family and being a leader for them.
That notion, for me, knocked over some personal and professional dominoes that were ready to fall. Six months later, I joined RSM as an editor, steadied by my wife, Lauren, an RSM veteran of 13 years. Now, we both benefit from the firm's understanding of parental challenges and its flexibility accommodating them, which enable us to give to our kids and keep giving. We're especially grateful after a year of incredible upheaval.
Ten months after my bittersweet choice to leave sports journalism, we moved to suburban Indianapolis, about six miles from Grand Park, the 400-acre youth sports mecca. It's a coincidence, I swear.