It was one o’clock in the afternoon during the middle of the week. I was not giving writing instruction, engaging in literary discussion, overseeing group work, or even watching the clock anxious for an unruly class to be dismissed.
Instead, I sat in the third row and watched a performance. While, it was not quite Broadway, I was mesmerized throughout the entire twenty minute production. I did not check my cell phone, consider grading papers, or mentally review a piece I am writing.
It was SJ’s kindergarten graduation. The children sang and danced and said the lines that their teacher had been drilling into their minds through many practices. During the performance, I wore my proud sentimental dad hat. The teacher and freelance writer hats were off.
A big part of being a good employee is to be responsible, productive, and efficient. In this day and age where it still feels like job security is tenuous, it is natural to feel pressure to constantly be on. Therefore, some may be thinking, while a kindergarten graduation is sweet, is it worth taking a day off from work for this? My internal debate over this question lasted seconds. I had the time, and this is exactly what I wanted to use it for.
These days there is much talk about balancing work and family. It used to be that women were the ones who were primarily responsible for child care and or struggled in this balance. However, recently a Pew Research Center survey (http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/03/14/modern-parenthood-roles-of-moms-and-dads-converge-as-they-balance-work-and-family/) found that “50% of working dads say they find it very or somewhat difficult to balance these responsibilities.” According to the survey, “46% of fathers say they are not spending enough time with their children.” Yet, they also want to work full time at a high-paying job. By the way, this conflict is occurring for men in all types of jobs including professional athletes (http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/eagles/20130605_Sconce_shopping_puts_Eagles__Cary_Williams_in_a_bad_light.html)
Something has to give. And ultimately, each of us has to make his or her own decisions on how to balance family and work. There is no right answer.
While I feel some sense of contentment at work, sometimes, I think I could and should be further along in my career. I question whether I am reaching or on track to reach my full potential. Isn’t part of my job as a parent to demonstrate a work ethic? Then, I wonder if I made more money, would my family be better off? It certainly would relieve certain stresses (and bring others – I know).
My job allows me to be home early. For three days a week, I am the parent in charge. Dinner, homework, bathing are all my responsibility. While this may leave me grunting and frustrated at times, I enjoy the bonding time and recognize its importance. I know my boys. I know their best friends’ names. I know their favorite television shows. I know what they like to read.
It’s nine o’clock and the boys are in bed (normally). It should be time for winding down – maybe watch some television, read, surf the net or talk with my wife. However, I don’t take this luxury. Instead, part two of my work day begins. It’s time for lesson planning, grading papers, or writing an article, blog post, etc.
So, I struggle like many others with balancing work and family. I strive to give my children the best of me and find meaning in work. Either way, I am happy to sit in the third row knowing that is where I should be.