When my wife was pregnant with our first child, I really started thinking about the roles of a mother and a father. We were having a boy and I was quite proud of that! I was also excited that I was going to be able to teach my boy so many fun things and enjoy doing things together. As I analyzed my current situation, I came to realize that many of the things I was hoping to enjoy weren't going to be possible.
I was a Site Operations Manager and worked a lot of hours, even weekends to make sure the company was running smooth. That was my job, to make sure the company was being looked after for the owner. Even the times I was at home or away from work I was getting calls by clients and employees. So really I was 24/7 with the company, but in this society and most cultures, they say that it is the way of life as a man. It's the fathers responsibility to provide for the family, so it's ok, it's understandable, it's expected, it's been the design for centuries. Even though this is the culture norm, I wasn't feeling comfortable with it.
I thought about the day that I would watch him take his first steps, but in reality It was going to be my wife telling me about him taking his first steps. I thought about him saying his first words, but then realized that would also be something my wife calls and tells me about. The more I kept thinking, the more things I realized I was going to be missing out on. I started to think to myself, "This isn't fair!" Why does the wife get to experience all the great moments of a child growing up, and the dad is doomed to experiencing their lives second hand? You always hear about the wife and kids going to the zoo, library, McDonalds, playgrounds, movies, riding bikes, or doing some fun activities around the home. Meanwhile the dad is sacrificing his life to make his boss's dreams come true, sacrificing family time for company travel, staying late to help the team get a project done, etc, and at any given moment that boss or company can get an itch and let you go; leaving you with nothing more than your last paycheck to survive a few more weeks. Many have worked hard and sacrificed their lives only to be shown the door after 20-30yrs with the company. But... you made money so it's ok. You supported your family, so it's ok. You've gained experience, so it's ok. But what did you lose?
My time finally came where I was laid off from the company. My wife was eight months pregnant and we had many expenses. I thought something like this would be a devastating, but I remember when the owner told me that they were going to let me go, I felt this sigh of relief that the stresses of the job have come to an end, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders, and I felt a great excitement to be able to start something new. Even though the job I had wasn't the most enjoyed, I couldn't do much but take one for the team/ family and make sure they were taken care of. I just lived with it.
I now had a chance to be able to change my direction and perhaps not fall into the normal dad category or follow the social standards. My goal was to be able to share the experiences that my wife was going to have. I quickly starting brain storming to see what I could do that would allow me to have a different schedule, a different life! I took on a contract job for a few months until I could get the ball rolling. I learned as much as I could about many different things and I eventually started working out of my home. I've been able to do so for the last two years so far and it has been a blessing!
After I was able to start working from home, I was able to see my dream start to realize. I was able to stay up late and help my wife with a crying baby. When he started to roll over, I was able to run out of my office and watch the action. When he started crawling, I was able to take a few minutes and help encourage him to keep trying. When he started walking, my wife and I were able to take turns having him walk to each other. When he was sick and only wanted to be held, I came out, took him in my arms and we watched cartoons until he fell asleep. As I work in my office, he will throw toys under the door for me to slide them back. I hear him chuckle for a few minutes as we take a moment to play. My wife and I will take a break and walk him in his wagon around the block. We will take a moment and go to a park, McDonalds, or even just jump on the trampoline in the backyard. There are countless special moments that I've been able to cherish with my little family and I wouldn't trade it for the world! Kids do grow up fast and I couldn't imagine having missed out on all these moments. You can never get time back and you will never have more time. It's about time management and if you were to just cut out your daily commute from your schedule, what could you do with that time? How much time would that be? (Mine was 2 hrs daily, 10hrs weekly, 40hrs monthly, 480hrs Yearly. Nonpaid time!)
There are still challenges we face from odd work hours, time management, feast or famine months, to constantly be innovating, etc. But one thing I did notice was even though we don't have much... we've been happy. The more you live with less, the more you realize the less you need. If you've been thinking about changing your direction, I'd encourage you to look more into it. My wife and I are in this haul for as long as we are able, and hope to continue for their education too. Your kids won't remember the presents they get for Christmas, Birthdays, Easter, etc, as much as they will remember the great experiences they have had with their dad. Those memories last a lifetime! How many times do kids get around the camp fire to talk about their past presents? Never. How many times time do they talk about the fun dad/family experiences they've had. Always! I want my kids to know that their daddy was there for them.
I know that not everyone will be able to work from home and fathers can and have done a great job with their families regardless. But if you have the same desire I did in being able to spend more time at home, just know that it is a possible change. My goal is to one day be able to develop an opportunity, system, company, etc, to help other fathers be able to experience this bond with their families. Until then, I pray for all those fathers out there that sacrifice for their families, the strength and health to keep going. If you have any business or projects ideas, I'm always open to them and just maybe we can work together to make something happen.