Earlier this week, a college basketball coach in Nebraska gave birth to her first child – and five hours later, coached her team in a game. I wrote about this little incident on Daddy Daze and was called out as sexist because I thought the coach’s priorities were a bit out of whack (even though, I did point out that if it had been her husband who coached the team – I would have blasted him for leaving his wife so soon after she gave birth).
Yesterday, a story broke that actor Johnny Depp, whose seven-year old daughter has been in the hospital, suspended production on his most recent movie, Sweeney Todd, to be with his family until his daughter gets the thumbs up that she’s fully recovered.
I was tempted to go back to Daddy Daze and laud Johnny for his decision, but I didn’t want to incur the wrath of any readers who thought I was giving the MAN a pat on the back…and the WOMAN a slap on the wrist. The fact is, I stand by my original point, which is that gender has no role here – it’s all about the priorities we make for ourselves.
The family-life balance is probably the most complicated of all. There are classes to help us strike the right balance. And, more likely, there are psychologist couches to help us figure out who we are. It’s difficult to wear the hats of doting father (or parent), employee (or boss), son (or daughter) and who knows what else? Pick any one of these categories – if you are doing any one of them 100%, it likely means you aren’t doing something else 100%. (I have workaholic tendencies. If I dive all in to the “employee/boss” thing, I’m not doing the father thing particularly well.)
I know I’m not telling anyone anything they don’t know, but what to do? It’s about the priorities, right? The funny part is that I’ve found Kolby sets them for me. For those of you that know me best – I’m an email junkie (okay…whore. I’m an email whore.). I’m attached to the Treo and am constantly checking the thing. Such are the shackles of self-employment. The other night, I was getting Kolby ready for bed and an incoming email was announced with the all-too familiar buzz of the phone in my pocket. As I reached into my pocket, Kolby grabbed my arm and said quite earnestly, “No. No. No. No.” while shaking his head. Needless to say, I felt like an ass. But, I’ll be damned if my priorities weren’t more or less reset on the spot.
This is my internal, external and ongoing struggle. Sometimes I have it nailed and other times I’m so out of whack, I don’t know which end is up. I desperately try to be flexible to whatever situations come up, but – even then – how do you know which situation requires the most “important” attention? I don’t have an answer to any of this, quite frankly. I guess it’s about feel. It’s about believing that you’re doing the “right thing.” I hate going on business trips (even a day), as I hate missing whole days of Kolby’s little life. But, I know that some of them are necessary, as these trips (in theory) put the roof over our head. And, that obviously has to be a priority. How many trips are too many, though? Ah, now we’re back to balance.
I guess everything we do is on this tightrope. Every decision we make comes with an opportunity cost. Maybe it’s just that once we make our decisions, we own them…we accomplish the tasks related to that decision 100%. And, that’s where we’re back to being 100% in whatever moment we’re in. No email when putting the kid to bed. Only be dad when it’s time to be dad. Only be business guy when it’s time to be business guy.
That, perhaps, is what priorities and balance are all about. One hundred percent – wherever we are.