Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Putting Family First

Welcome Carnival of Patience Therapy Readers!

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The subject of putting family first is easier to talk about than to implement. It's too bad, too. At the end of the day, you have to realize that what you do every day, all those little activities, are what makes up your life. Goals and visions of the future are fine, just as long as they don't make you hate your every day. The things you do are the thoughts, feelings, and people that you are nurturing every day.

Maya Angelou writes in her essay, Living Well, Living Good, about the subject of nurturing what you love. In this essay, she "paints a picture" of rich folks being depressed and their very servants knowing how to enjoy themselves. The lesson of this essay is that later in life, what you have left is what you've nurtured earlier in life. If all you nurture is money and career, those will probably be in good shape when you're older. If you nurture family, friends, and happiness, those things will still be with you.

There's a balance to strike, to be sure, but the time and activities you put on that scale are not of equal weight and size.

Obviously it's important for me to go to work every day. Even as an involved father, I have the role of bread-winner. But it's not fair for me to think that when I punch the time clock on the way out the door, that my responsibilities are over. I trust my wife to take care of things while I'm away, to make sure the kids are cared for and engaged, and she does a wonderful job. But I can't just kick up my shoes and let her keep on with the responsibilities.

I used to play video games. A lot of video games. And while I miss them a great deal, I know that I just don't have enough time in the day to tackle an involved game anymore. Also, I used to watch a lot of TV. That activity has been relegated to the very back burner just a few times a week. I used to read a lot of books, and I still do, but not, generally when my kids are awake.

My average day has me coming home in the afternoon, taking the kids out to play with our neighbors. After that I come in and cook diner (or cave and go out to eat, something I'm really trying to cut back on). Then, after giving the girls a bath and singing them to bed, I have a little bit of time. Several days a week, that time is devoted to doing homework for the degree I'm working on. Other nights, I have mountains of papers to grade. On those nights I'm generally up a bit late and don't get the kind of sleep that I'd like, but that's okay. Other nights, my wife and I read, look at the internet, write, or watch a movie. It is a treasured time, to be sure, but also a very important time to keep things in check.

The only times I stay up later than my wife is when I'm very busy. I never stay up to watch TV, to play a video game, or for any other reason. I think it is important for any dad striving to be a badass to not let his wife feel like she's an unimportant part of his day. Your wife, remember, really thrives on involvement, and it's important to show that your day generally ends when hers does.

Remember, it's not about quality time with your wife and kids. It's about the quantity of time that you spend. In the end, you want them to look back and feel like you were present in their days. If you want to be a positive influence in their lives, you have to be in their lives. There just isn't an substitute for your presence.

You may also enjoy This Article. Or this one about Valentines Day.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

What a great article and site! Thanks for participating in my carnival, I hope to see you again. Cheers!