In the movie Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker travels to Degobah to enlist the training of Yoda, the Jedi Master. Upon his arrival, he crashes his X-Wing Fighter into the marsh. He learns of his friends being in danger and has to leave. Yoda tells him that he can move his plane out of the swamp and his reply, "I'll try." Yoda then comes back with that famous line, "Do or do not, there is no try." Yoda then proceeds to move the plane out of the water.
This week, we Gold Medal Dads are challenged to "Balance Work and Family." This is a huge challenge.
I recently received a brochure from the National Fatherhood Initiative and one statistic hit close to home for me. According to the brochure, 71% of men would take a pay cut if it meant they could have more time with their family. I was one of those men.
Don't get me wrong. I miss the days of, let's call it, financial freedom. My wife and I didn't blow money, but it was nice to be able to go out to eat and not worry about it so much. It was cool to be able to go buy that neat gadget and know it would not hurt us for the month. Those days are behind us. Currently, crazy us are in the process of working toward a goal of getting my wife home. If you would like to donate to that cause, please feel free to contact me. :)
I took a pay cut to spend more time with my family and my church. I was never home. Retail was good to me, don't get me wrong. However, once Brighton came along, I learned all that glitters is definitely not gold. So, here I stand, about $15,000 a year poorer for the sake of my son. Some look at me as though I am crazy. To them I say, ask my son if he thinks it was worth it? He said yes, I just asked him. At least I think he said yes, he was stuffing his face with pizza. Mama is resting from the pregnancy and Daddy is in charge of supper still. I think I am going to see if Tombstone pizza wants to sponsor my blog.
The reason I used Yoda's words of wisdom is because balancing work and family is not one of those things you can vow to try. Look back at all the "try's" in your life. I tried working out three times a week. I tried to cut down to one Sun-Drop a day. I tried to exercise on a regular basis. I tried to play tennis every Friday with some guys from school. You see where I am going with this?
In the brochure, I liked a few of the suggestions.
1. Tell your coworkers about your family commitments. This is huge. You cannot mention this in passing. You have to make this a big deal. Every year I tell my grade level that I can meet at any time to discuss the grade's plans and interventions, except after school. After 3:05 p.m., mild-mannered Mr. Wood turns into Super Daddy or Bat-Husband. I like either one, lol. They need to know that you are a team player, but you will not sacrifice your family for work.
2. Do your job! The brochure says "Stay Busy and Focused" but I like my version better. Get to your job, get your stuff done, and go home. Don't doodle around the office talking to everyone about everything. Workplace relationships are important, but the quicker you get your job done, the quicker you can go home. The brochure goes to the extreme of suggesting a "Do Not Disturb" sign. I, myself, arrange my desk in my classroom so people cannot see me when they are walking by. I am not being rude, but during my planning times, I try to get as much grading and work done as I possibly can. Trust me, my wife loves the fact that she sees virtually none of my school work.
3. Limit work on weekends, vacations, and holidays. I read once of an executive that had a special email for people to ask him questions on vacation. It was something like firstname.lastname@example.org. I loved it because it forced the person to actually write out what they were doing to that man. Your family loves you and does not like sharing you. Trust me, when I worked at retail and people would call me at home at night and on my days off to ask questions, my wife was not a happy camper.
Did you notice that none of the suggestions said try to tell your coworkers about your family. Or, try to get done with everything at work. Did it say try to limit work on weekends? It said do it.
This week don't try to be the Father God wants you to be. Don't try to be the Daddy your son or daughter needs you to be. Just do it.
Here is the newest picture of our little one. He or she is growing like a weed. It is hard to believe that three weeks ago they looked a peanut with legs and arms.