Choosing To Be A Dad

I think a lot about work/life balance these days.  How to balance career and family and how much my level of effort at work balances my level of effort at home.

We just finished a release at work and while the high fives were going around, I left. I walked out of the building at a few minutes after five. I had worked hard these past few months to get the release out the door, I was proud of my effort, but I only wanted to see my daughter.  Walking out of that building, I felt an immense sense of accomplishment and pride in what I had done there.  Walking into my apartment at 5:45 on a Friday and being greeted with “Daddy’s home” I forgot it all.

Why is it so hard to leave work at work?  I know that my family needs me more than my job does.  I know that a few extra minutes at home could mean the difference between being there for and missing a First. And yet there is a struggle.  Is it the immediacy of the problems at work?  Is it the sense of accomplishment or a swelling ego that causes me to work beyond what is required? Is it because my parents taught me how to work hard and I’m just applying life lessons?

I think it’s actually a lot simpler than that, for me at least.  The reality of the situation is that I’m good at my job and doing well makes me happy.  When I’m at home, I’m not as good.  I’m more necessary but less effective. I’m more likely to get pooped on than to save the day with a solution.  I’m more likely to miss a cue for hunger than see through the noise for that one necessary thing.  Being home is harder than being at work and I think that I, as a dad, need to admit that to myself and to my wife.

The hallmark of my next step of maturation will be to be present in situations that are difficult and to go there, even when more comfort lies elsewhere.  It’s not about work/life balance.  It’s about choosing to be a dad with a job instead of an employee with two roommates.