I have the great fortune to be able to experience my second Father’s Day. The past year has brought so many monumental changes to my life. I’ve finally stopped messing around and got my Architecture license, I’ve started my own practice, and every day has brought us a few steps closer to breaking ground on our new home. I have a few ongoing and new design projects and am so fortunate that Studio m Architecture + Design is a success so far.
All of that is great.
Amid all of this planning for the future and looking forward and preparing for what is next, the most successful aspect of the past year is the shift in my thinking about my time with my son. Before I started working on my own, my time with Little Guy, as it is with most fathers, was limited to nights and weekends. Maybe, if I was lucky enough, he would wake up before I left the house, but even then it was just a quick good bye without him even realizing what was going on. This is the norm. This is how it is.
Unless you change it.
I Realize that I am one of the lucky ones. I know that I am one of the few who gets to dictate their own schedule. We can’t all own our own business and adjust our lives as necessary. It just wouldn’t work that way. I’m not suggesting that everyone else is doing it wrong. There is sacrifice too. There are more and more nights that I am awake at 2 o’clock in the morning getting work done, paying bills, drafting contracts and a thousand other things that I can’t get done during the day. It’s a trade off. It’s balance.
What I get in return for my efforts is that I learn to be the dad that my son wants. With the amount of time we get to spend together, I see firsthand what works. What makes him laugh? What makes him upset? How can I be the best dad I can be? Easy. Know my son. Not just play with him or feed him or drive him around. . . . but actually KNOW him. The time I get to spend with him is time that he gets to let me know who he wants me to be (even if sometimes I have to be the guy who lays down the law too). He gets to teach me while I’m teaching him.
Do the worlds collide? Absolutely – if you want to look at it that way. Last week I sent out a design presentation on a potential job that I am looking at. Of course, the next day I spent the majority of my 9 to 5 with my son, so when the developer called, I had an 18 month old running circles around me while I sat on the floor spinning to keep up. Option one: voicemail. Option two: stick Little Guy somewhere safe and hope he only screams a little bit until I get off the phone. The unfortunate decision here is ‘who am I putting first?’ If I let the call go to voicemail, it’s obviously saying that my son comes first and work can wait. If I tie my son to a chair so I can take a call without interruption, it’s because this job is important to me and I need to remain ‘professional’ during work hours. I want both. . . so Option three was to answer the call and let my client know that today is a day with my son, but that I didn’t want to miss his call. He’s cool with it, my son doesn’t feel abandoned, and I get to keep my life in balance. Everyone who I work with knows that I am, at any given time, potentially with my son. That’s why they have emails sent at 2 AM waiting for them when they get to work. This is time that I won’t get back if I let it go.
The past year has taught me to continuously pursue this balance. It’s not easy at times. There are still meetings that need to exist without a child in sight. There are still times when the phone just needs to be turned off. Although I very much look forward to what tomorrow brings, I try my hardest to stay in today. Enjoy the Now. Live in the moment when I am with my son as much as I can. Hopefully he will learn to recognize how important the time together really is.
Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there! No matter how you’re doing it, make sure to enjoy the minutes. . . because they do run out.
Tim, that is such a beautiful testimony to getting your priorities straight and enjoying the ride. Good for you and it’s a win win situation. Happy Fathers’s Day!