“Are you going to stay home today?”
I start every day hearing that question from my sweet little guy, Bubbers. It’s usually one of the first things he says as I get him out of his crib. He says it with hope in his eyes and a cute, innocent look on his face.
And a little piece of me dreads hearing it every time.
Because for 5 out of 7 days of the week, I have to answer “Nope, I’m going to work today”. At first, he would politely ask me to stay home (“won’t you stay home with me today?”), which melted my heart but just made it worse.
Now he accepts (expects?) it and moves on pretty quickly.
In a way, I’m glad he still asks because it means he still wants me to stay home and he still has hope that I might say “yes”, one day. And sometimes I do say “yes” and take a day off. But not very often.
Which brings me to my dilemma. What’s the right balance between career and home? The extremes are obviously bad because staying at home all day would lead to homelessness while working all day and night would lead to absentee fatherhood-ism and, probably, divorce.
How do I figure out the right middle ground?
One guide Heidi and I use is this quote:
Isn’t that beautiful? And I’ve found that to be true. I’m happiest in my life when I’m spending time with my family. Nothing else compares.
But the reality of life (at least at this stage in my career) is, if you’re not moving up at work, you’ll probably be moved out. And moving up almost always means a job with more responsibility, longer hours, etc. And in an environment of higher unemployment means fewer people doing more work which means more hours.
Which brings me to this question: what does “failure in the home” mean? If I take a job that brings in more money and/or more job security but requires more hours, is that success at work at the expense of failure in the home?
In the end, it probably depends on how you measure success at home. I guess I measure success at home in these ways:
- Does my wife know I love her and feel like she has enough time with me? Does she feel like I’m supporting her at home?
- Do my kids know I love them and feel like they have enough time with me? Do they feel close to me and that they can talk to me and I’ll listen?
- Does my family have active, increasing faith in Jesus Christ? Am I instrumental in building and demonstrating that faith?
- Does my family live the gospel of Jesus Christ in a way that we believe will lead to our being an eternal family?
I like that way of measuring success because it allows for flexibility. If Heidi and I feel like we’re not doing well in our progress towards those goals, I should probably try to cut back at work. If we’re doing fine, I can probably work a little more, if I need to.
What do you think? How do you measure success at home? How do you decide the right balance between career and family?