What I thought was going to be a routine kinder pick-up, turned into a day that changed how I see my role as father.
The first year of fatherhood is a tough one. So many of the ingrained male instincts kick in the moment you hear that ultrasound heartbeat… they whisper in your ear but the words are loud and clear… ”You need to step up…. hunt, provide, protect”. These instincts only get louder and louder until you are holding that tiny little version of yourself that quite literally has their ENTIRE life in front of them. These instincts are shouting at you by now, but it turns out that fighting them can be the best thing you can do for your family.
I have been in financial services for my entire career and the culture has always been that dedication to the business and its goals was respected, rewarded and encouraged. I have worked for big firms, small firms and a couple of the ‘Big 4’ banks and the attitude has always been, work long and hard, get results, and you will succeed… and that is the best way to look after your family. The last job I had at a big bank started two weeks after my first child was born and I had taken the job because I really thought that I needed that level of secure income to build a future for my family.
After a few months of surviving a 2 hour commute, leaving the house before my son woke, and getting home after he was asleep some pretty big cracks were beginning to appear in all facets of my life, my health, my relationship with my wife and my relationship with my son. I wasn’t there and when I was I wasn’t much company… but I was providing. I decided to start my own business, perhaps to a financial detriment but certainly to the benefit of my health and presumably my relationships. It took a while, but eventually I was in a place where I felt in control of my own destiny again. I was working for myself, choosing my hours and spending more time with my family and while I was earning less, we were better off financially… but I digress…
So this day that I picked Ben up from Kinder, feeling pretty happy about the fact that I was able to leave work at 4:00pm to do so, he delivered a massive blow below the belt. For reasons that I can’t recall, I asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up, his answer got me right in the feels…
“I don’t know, but [inlinetweet]when I’m a daddy I will get someone else to do my work so that I can play with my kids[/inlinetweet]”
So here I am patting myself on the back for how present I am as a father but from the perspective of my 4 year old son, I’m always off working. I thought it was a one off, but a few weeks later while he was at my office, he told my team that they had to do my work so that I could go home… (little does he know that they already do most of it).
So the epiphany that hit me right in the feels when Ben said that to me was this: There will come a time where I will give everything and anything for one more moment with my wife and kids and in that moment I imagine that I will regret every moment spent apart from them.
I have a YouTube channel with a series of videos titled “It’s only money” which was intended as a tongue in cheek title, but the more I think about it the more relevant it is. There will always be the opportunity to make money, but time is something that no one can buy.
So what have I done about it? I am taking Friday’s off for the foreseeable future, not quite what Ben had in mind but it’s the best I can do given the economic realities in our life.
It has however changed the direction of my business…. If my kids see this as important, then it’s a reasonable bet that many other kids do to and our mission has shifted to help people enjoy the more memorable moments in their lives… to remind them that it is only money and why should it prevent you from doing what is really important, which is to make the most of the 80 or so short trips around the sun that we are given.
If the point of work is to give your family what they need, then make sure you know what it is that they need….. you.