Navigating the Career-Family Tightrope (Dad Edition)

Surprise!  You are going to be a dad (again)!  To be honest, I never really thought that I would end up as the guy with four kids (fourth one is on the way) in six years.  I knew I would be a dad, and wanted to be a great one, but had an entirely different idea of how that was going to play out in my head. 

Here I am: minister, father, writer, husband (not in that order), and here I am trying to decide how to rock all of them knowing that it’s not really possible.  So, I look for some article or magazine or something, but the funny thing is that most of the parenting stuff out there is for moms.  I am far from qualified to give parenting advice, but I am going to spend a couple words here (and in the future) sharing struggles.  And, if I find anything great, I'll share a resource or two.  

“I wish I had spent more time with my family.” That is the refrain I have heard over and over again from older men when I ask them what they wish they did differently when they were younger.  Before I had kids, I thought: easy.  When I get there all I need t do is make boundaries and be a good dad.

Not that simple.  A pastor friend of mine, Danny Doss, said that there is a tragic irony in that the same moment you are required, and have the most opportunity, to develop your career is the same moment you are raising your children in the early years.  Hit the nail on the head.  

I have these two deep longings for success within me: professional and familial.  I am on this balance beam with them on either side, and I am constantly falling off.  If I’m honest, my drive to provide for my family gives me the logic in my head that allows me to fall off more often on the side of career.  But it’s odd because I feel a twinge of guilt whichever I chose.  The only thing I have gotten relatively good at is not allowing guilt, fear or confusion to paralyze me.  

Thank God I have a grace-filled wife who loves me and supports call. She is the anchor of our family.  She is brilliant and loving and beyond patient.  I look at her day-to-day and shudder to think how it all would end up if the roles were switched.  

Right or wrong, the way we end up navigating all of this is through our relationship.

Somehow through the fatigue and narcoleptic television watching, we communicate.  We ask questions and help each other hold it together when one or the other feels like falling apart.  Sometimes, we even remember to pray.  Though it looks like a mess, it feels like a plan and we come out together on the other side which is an outcome with which I am usually comfortable.

So there it is.  Imperfect, relationship-based tightrope navigation.  If I said any more, I would be making it up to sound like there was a real method beyond loving each other and God. 

Time to go read the T-ball coach's manual before quiet-rest time ends (I believe nap-time is a fiction made up by someone to sell books).