One of the quintessential goals of man: balancing work and family life. I purposely stated the title as, "Dad, Husband and Dude", because that is the order in which I feel my life is organized since becoming a family man and I think it may be the same for other dads.
With a preschooler always present and accounted for it’s only natural that my world revolves around him. At this age I am responsible for the quality of life my son is having and that’s a big responsibility. So everything else that I would have wanted to dedicate my free time to gets put on the back burner, way back there. With this kind of responsibility I don’t have much of a social life but I live life with my son. So what ever is appropriate for him is what we are going to be doing. I have spent everyday of my life since he was born doing exactly that and it has paid off in dividends with a strong bond between father and son. Case in point, a few nights ago I get home from work past 12 AM and he is right there waiting for me because he refuses to go to sleep without me there. We’ve spent many late nights together camped out in front of the TV until he gets tired enough to go to sleep.
Being a dad gets especially tough when I do have to go to work and he asks me "Why do I have to go?" and tells me, "I want you to stay." I usually pick him up in my arms or get down to his level and tell him I will be back later, I love him and we give each other our signature tight, squeezing with all our might, hugs. Of course, I would love to stay home with him all day, every day but I’m also one of the providers of this house hold. But, whether it’s before work or late after work, we always find time to bond. It’s never enough time but we make do and it’s worked out good so far.
Pre fatherhood, nurturing a relationship with my wife was easy, or easier I should say. We would go dancing, take road trips, go to the movies, shack up in a classy hotel or host impromptu parties at our house. However, as I mentioned before, our toddler is now the center of attention and that is a full time job consuming every second of the day. Between work, daddy duty, and a wife who is a romantic at heart, our relationship has had it’s ups and downs but I always try to keep our collective minds focused on what really matters. That despite not having the bliss life of coupledom, we still love each other and we have to work at reminding each other of that. My wife and I both work at the same company so that offers us some additional time with each other among adults. We’ve also been fortunate enough that most days our work schedule enables one of us to always be off to take care of our son. We do occasionally ask Grandma to watch him for a night so we can enjoy some time for just the two of us.
The dude is me, everything I would want to do if I didn’t have any immediate responsibility–hitting the gym, blogging, jamming on my guitar, learning photography, going to the beach, having some beers with friends, watching a DVD, taking a road trip, building my own business, etc. The dude is a very low priority these days and that’s fine because my plate is truly full. I love bonding with my son and spending time with my wife. I still want to do all those things and I do when I get a chance but I’m not going to go crazy if I don’t. One thing I am looking forward to is getting back into the gym. There was a time when my life revolved around health and nutrition. When Squirt enters preschool later this year I think I may have some time to get back into the gym and man, I badly need to get back into the gym.
So, as for achieving that elusive balance of work and family life, I don’t think I’ve gotten there yet. Time with my wife is usually interrupted by our busy preschooler or our preteen daughter and time for myself must be ceased whenever possible. Nonetheless, my wife and I always make time for our children and that is what is most important to us. To me, finding balance is more of a fleeting moment, a moment of connecting with my children or my wife or myself between all the other things that life is throwing at me on any given day. These are the moments that make it all worth it. Life is changing all the time and I have to adapt everyday. My son will be starting school soon so I may find some spare time for myself, my wife and I will more than likely work out a better schedule so that we have more time together, but for now, this is my life, a dad, husband and dude, in that order and I’m happy with that.