How do dads balance the family/work dynamic? Cue my really profound answer - we don’t. Or at least I don’t. I survive. My wife was telling me the other day about a well-known business owner mom who was recently asked how she balances a life of running a business and raising kids. I didn’t ever hear the answer, but what I heard was that the business owner mom later was asking, why don’t dads ever get asked this question? I’ll be honest, it felt good to be considered, but I think us dads are pretty far behind.
So what am I supposed to do? As the owner of MudLOVE, no one tells me how much to work. I don’t always like it that way. Other times the flexibility is the greatest perk I have, and I cling to it like a baby and his blanky. I’ve always felt that if I was working late to tackle something important for the business, then I’m sacrificing time with my family. Or if I’m with my family during normal work time then I’m sacrificing time to improve the business, thus the well-being of employees. Even with a good balance, there comes an unfair amount of guilt, and that’s on me. Maybe you could help me find a business owner dad who effectively builds a profitable business and a team within a 40 hour work week, goes to every soccer game and raises respectful generous children, and still has an ounce of energy for his spouse, friends, or extended family. Please tell him to give me a call or write a book.
Recently in a somewhat heated conversation with my wife about work, I learned that she had been suppressing her desires to pursue her business, Bel Kai, for me and the kids. It’s in her nature to suppress herself for others, but it was still unfair to her and I misinterpreted her struggle to find the passion to work in the past. I thought she just lost the spark to pursue her business, but that wasn’t the case at all in fact. Instead, she has a bonfire sized flame of passion, but wasn’t letting it out for the sake of our family and me and “my” business. Hearing that felt like a dagger, it was good for me though because I knew what to give her. Time.
As the fixer type, my offer to her was that I take the kids on Thursdays. She gladly accepted, and now “Daddy Day” is what’s on our family calendar for Thursdays. It’s summer now so I’m hanging out with the entire pack. Elliot (12), Silas (10), Wally (4), and Holden (1) for the day. We walk, play at the park, watch movies, do laundry, clean dishes, graze the kitchen for food, and the rest of the time I’m basically Uber (am I right, parents?). My #1 goal is literally to keep the children alive. If I don’t burn the bacon while making pancakes and send 5 emails for work then I’m at the top of my game. On a bad day the baby wakes up from a nap by a kid slamming a door, I forget my breathing exercises, and it’s game over. I’ve really found solace in the billboards that say, “you don’t have to be a perfect parent to be a parent.” Those were made for me.
Balancing when we walk or stand is one of those things we don’t have to think about. We wake up, get on our feet and we’re doing it, we’re balancing. When it comes to work and family as a dad, it’s the toughest part of my job. I’ll never get it right, but it feels like one of the most important things to pursue and perfect, and I feel fortunate to know that at 33 years of age. While I’m really far away from being a perfect parent (and I don’t have to be thanks to those reminders on the highway), I hope to die trying. Until that day comes I’ll just continue to pursue the balance, and be okay with sacrificing work to change diapers, sort out an argument over the last cookie, drive kids all over town all day long, clean up everyone’s trash, and even maybe, just maybe, take a nap. Gotta go, baby’s awake.