Do you find there is a trade off between work and family? How does one reconcile family values with the “it takes hard work to get ahead” culture in which we live? This push pull seems to break so many families, and I can see how. There was an article in the Atlantic recently which asked these questions from the position of can a reconcile professions and family. All I can say is the questions are the same for men though we take none of the flack for our choices either way.
Nobody has ever questioned my decision to take time off when my family needs me. I even list taking care of sick kids on my resume right next to my pride in all of my employees leaving to become managers. In job interviews, I have also listed taking care of medically fragile kids as an answer for questions asking for a demonstration of project management in action with some very specific details. I may be strange, but I see the care of my kids as an important note on who I am professionally. I understand those who think putting the care of sick children on a resume is foolish. I disagree. My profession is project management, and the skills needed for both my career and vocation are similar.
It’s worth noting, I took my first job here recognizing a trade off. I took the job which paid me 5k less a year to have time off for fun and later for family. Little did I know ten years later I would need time off for healthcare too.
I should point out the divorce rate for managers my level and the level above mine is very high. It takes a special spouse for us guys too. I know it makes me a total nerd to say this out loud, but there is a huge part of me thrilled to note we will have been married 3,000 days on July 4th. Even if we are too tired to celebrate much, I am going to think the fireworks are nicely timed for personal as well as national celebration. A couple of months ago, I was walking by a jewelry store in DC when a man made, purple sapphire necklace in the window caught my eye. I walked in just to see how much it would cost, and after some negotiation, I got it and a pair of earrings. I think the store keep just liked my story and plan to use them for a 3k day, because I ended up with both of them for the cost I was prepared to pay for just the necklace. I figure 3 things for 3 thousand days.
I plan to give the necklace and use the earrings to continue my tradition of hiding things around the house with notes for J to find someday in the future. A found one of my last gifts this weekend (a Smurfs cartoon DVD). My usual rule is the gifts have to be less than $10, and I figure the randomly found “I love you” notes with small gifts are fun to hide. So yes, the earrings are a bit more than the $10 normal limits, but J will just have to accept I break rules some times when something just feels right. I’ll make sure I point out the date they were hidden was July 4th (the 3,000thday). I wonder if I will remember where I hide these. I often laugh when the gifts are found long after I forgot hiding them with the date hidden written on them. At one point J found some chocolate I had hidden 2.5 years before. It tasted horrible, but it did get a laugh from all of us who tried it. We laughingly violated the logical response to “Ewe gross! Here you try.”
On another note, some days are just about holding on. Hold on through sleepless nights and through the tempers that follow. As we go weeks between nights where all of our kids sleep through the night, I see cracks in temperament of the whole family. Still, we are here looking forward to more great days even as we have some moments I will cherish forever.
One such moment happened this weekend. After the first night in the past week for all of the kids to sleep, I loved watching A reading right next to O, as they both read the same book. O would try to read the book, but fairly often he got lazy and just relied on his memory. A would correct him and show him each of the words he missed and sound them out with him. It didn’t last more than 15 minutes, and they only got up to “I like to box. How I like to Box!” Their laughter completely stopped their cooperative reading as they never even tried to go back to reading. I didn’t redirect them back to it because it was a teaching not put forth by anyone but them. I just made sure to praise them at lunch 30 minutes later.