12.14.2006

Balance

I really really enjoy my job. It's challenging. I work with great people. The company has a great culture. My situation is something I really appreciate. But it certainly isn't perfect. It's far enough away that I spend 20 hours a week getting there and back. The team I manage is responsible for 24x7 support of a multi-million dollar business. There is constant stress (good stress for the most part). And since it's a small team, I take my fair share of shifts.

On the best of work days, I spend maybe 1 - 1 and a half hours of quality time with the kids. A few days ago, I was covering a late shift. It was a BodyPump night, so I was on my own. 95% of the time there are no issues.

I came in, DearWife and walked by and gave kisses. The kids were in a great mood. We finished up dinner. BigBrother ate about a pound of ham, and a little mustard. LittleBrother ate a little ham and about a pound of mustard. We were set to go practice piano or play trains or chase or play ghost, or any of a million other things. Then the pager went off.

It was a problem that couldn't wait. I suggested that the kids go play in the back while I worked. But that wasn't popular. Both kids were on me the whole time I got set up my laptop. I stopped what I was doing to talk to BigBrother. He wanted to play, he wanted to read. He wanted to spend time with his Daddy. He started crying.

Saying my heart sank is an understatement. I remembered back to thinking what kind of Dad I wanted to be, and how I wanted to be there for my kids like my Dad was there for me. But I HAD to address this issue.

So I said "Do you want to watch the Grinch?"

BigBrother got a big smile and said "YES." LittleBrother ran back from the front room and sat on the couch. Their happiness did little to assuage my guilt. It took me a while to resolve the problem, so they ended up watching it twice.

As soon as I was done, it was time to put them to bed. Obviously this isn't going to leave a permanent mark. I was more upset than they were. Maybe I was even projecting enough so BigBrother picked up on it.

I think one of the most difficult things about being a father is trying to achieve balance. I'm trying to convince myself that the fact that I struggle with the decision is evidence that I'm doing the best I can, and hopefully that will flow through to my kids.

3 comments:

Dear Wife said...

Yeah, that night sucked. But you do get to at least tuck your boys in 98% of the time, and on the weekends you are 100%. And, I appreciate how hard you work to provide for your family. (And let me get to Body Pump a few days a week!)

Muskyboy said...

Time management....sucks.....Family, Work, commuting, hobbies (if you have any)> 24 hours. I have always wondered how my Dad no matter what was going on was able to make all of my Soccer games, was always home for dinner at 5:30 and always had time to play catch with me after he got home.

My whole career has been big hours. I think it has mostly to do with I care about what I do and I'm arrogant to think that I can do it better than anybody else. I wish I could be a 40 hr a week guy, but I just can't do it.

When you figure out the whole time management thing, let me know because I could use the help.

MIL said...

Little kids pick up from us much more than we can notice. There is no doubt in my mind that they understand and will always remember the "quality" time you spend with them.