Friday, November 11, 2011

The Common Sense Dad - Patrick

Today's post is written by an awesome dad of two boys, my brother, Patrick.

Although he is three years older than me, we started our families around the same time.  I have enjoyed walking along side one of my older brothers as we learned what it means to be a parent. 

I have been in graduate school since my wife and I got married, so when we decided to have children, there were some logistical problems that had to be addressed. It was always our plan that she would stay home full time with the kids, but as you may have guessed, graduate students don’t make very much money so this was simply not possible. While I didn’t make much money, I did have a very flexible schedule. As a result, we managed to come up with a plan for my wife to work 2 days a week while I stayed at home with our son. Since he was a newborn, I was able to get some work done while I was at home with him, and I would work a little extra on the other days to make up for what I missed when I was at home. We were able to continue with this arrangement after our second son was born. In May, I got a fulltime job that allowed my wife to stay home full time and also provided an opportunity for me to finish my degree. My productivity had begun to suffer since the boys were getting bigger, and I was unable to get any work done while I was at home.

When we got married, this was not our plan, and it certainly proved difficult at some points because I was having to work more at other points during the week and we weren’t able to have as much family time as we would have liked. I knew that I had a special opportunity to spend time with my boys that alot of other dads don’t get. Since I took my fulltime job, though, my time with the boys has diminished, and I find that I really miss it. It was special time for just me and them when we’re each in the prime of our day. Now, I see them when I get home from work at night (and occasionally before I leave for work), but it’s not the same - I’m tired, they’re tired and usually off to bed shortly after I arrive. I also see them on the weekends, but the amount of quality time I get with them is less frequent.

I read an article recently (that I can’t seem to locate at the moment) titled “Hang up the Phone and Arrive”. The thesis was basically an elaboration of the title - when we get home from work, our kids are so excited for our arrival, but we can easily kill that excitement if we are still, for all intents and purposes, at work. Thus, for their sake, when we arrive home, we need to be home. The author, as best I recall, didn’t look at it from the dad’s perspective though. We don’t simply need to be home for their sake but for ours as well. Kids can be hard work, but they add so much joy to our lives that can be sapped by work and other obligations. When we have the opportunity, we need to take advantage of the time with our kids and the joy that they bring us - even if it is after a long day of work when we get to bathe them and help them get to bed.

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