This is the second post for our Liberating Working Dads series.
I love my job. There – I’ve admitted it.
I never intended to work for the government. I didn’t go to school seeking a B.A. in bureaucracy. It just sort of happened. A friend of my wife worked for this agency and got me an interview. The manager of the office is a HUGE St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan. I’m a HUGE Chicago Cubs fan. I swear the only thing that got me the job was that I could talk shop about baseball. But hey, whatever gets your foot in the door, right?
I’ve worked for the government for almost ten years. I’ve moved into the management ranks and now direct folks doing the type of work for which I was originally hired. My job duties are invigorating, frustrating, rewarding, and a few more “-ings”, usually simultaneously. But the most frustrating part of my career is finding the sweet spot in the work life/home life balance.
As a member of management, it is my responsibility to keep the office running smoothly. Unlocking the doors in the morning for the employees, responding to mandatory action items by deadlines, evaluating employees…I could go on for pages, but anyone who works outside the home knows the spiel. Most everything needs to be done by yesterday.
I love my wife and kids. There – I’ve admitted it.
I always intended to have a family. I knocked around a few schools before finally settling. I probably would have left there, too, except that is where I met my wife. She was in history class with me and refused to let me sit in the back row. She basically told me that I WAS going to sit up in front with her. Who tells a beautiful girl telling you to sit next to her, “No?” I was wearing the ugliest boots that day; I swear the only thing that made her talk to me was those boots. Her fashion sense just couldn’t let those abominations pass without comment.
We have now been married for almost ten years. We have moved from just the two of us to having three beautiful children. Family life is invigorating, frustrating, rewarding, and a few more “-ings”, usually simultaneously. But the most frustrating part of family life is finding the sweet spot in the work life/home life balance.
As a working Dad, it is my responsibility to help as much as possible when I am home. Dealing with the kids during the night, running errands on weekends, reminding my wife how much I love her…I could go on for pages, but any parent knows the spiel. And just like work, most everything needs to be done by yesterday.
It’s the juggling act of work and home with which I struggle. I want to spend 100% of my time and effort at home with everyone. I want to witness the kids doing cute things instead of seeing it in a texted picture. I want to help calm the tantrums and fights instead of hearing about them via email. I want to play board games, color pictures, visit kid’s museums, play at McDonald’s Playland, and take my wife out on dates. I want to be able to do these things each day instead of hoping there is enough time on weekends for some of them. But I also realize that the only thing that makes these things possible is work. The hours I spend at work allow us to live in a nice house, take vacations, buy food, etc. It is a sacrifice I must be willing to make to enjoy everything else I’ve talked about. But it doesn’t mean I have to like it.
I’ve heard it said that in a good compromise, neither party is happy. Work would gladly eat up every waking hour of my time and still have work for me to do. Conversely, I could spend every waking hour (and those unconscious ones that the kids periodically interrupt) into being with my family and still feel like I was somehow missing out. Neither facet of my life is able to have my undivided attention, so I try to do my best to devote time and attention to each. I don’t think either ends up being entirely happy with my performance. I’ll just have to call it a good compromise and try to find a balance that works better everyone involved.
Now who’s up for a game of Candyland?
Michael Weitl is married to LWM crew memmber Jamie. He works for the Social Security Administration and periodically his the love of his life ropes him into doing a post for her blog, Sticky Feet: Part Duex. He enjoys spending time with his son and twin daughters, cooking Mexican cuisine, and drinking a glass of red wine. Preferably all at the same time.
Check out last week’s Liberating Working Dads post from daddy blogger John Batzer of Daddy Runs A Lot: The Shifting Priorities of Parenthood.