Occasionally I run across news articles or op-eds about women who work so much, or used to work so much, that they feel like they have lost a lot from their personal lives. Whether it is time spent with children, broken marriages, or less dramatic things, they feel keenly the loss of those interpersonal relationships. While I know that there are many men who have experienced the same thing, fewer of them are talking about it right now in these kinds of spheres, and it seems less relevant to me, at any rate.
When I read articles like that, it makes me desperately not want to be those women. I don’t want to look back at large swathes of my life and regret the time I lost with the people that mean the most to me. While a job can be fulfilling and wonderful, I don’t want any part of my life to feel so engrossing and important that I lose the connections that–to me–make life meaningful. I never want a job, or anything else, to become so important to me that it destroys my marriage or makes my children feel like they aren’t important to me.
Is there anything that’s really more important than your family? Does an illustrious career really give you so much more? I guess my answer to that is already clear, seeing as I have put off graduate school and a career to stay at home with my kids when they’re young. But the thing is that I don’t feel like I’m making that great of a sacrifice. These connections are of paramount importance to me. I have the opportunity to have kids right now, and they will only be young once. I can go to graduate school at any time. I can get a job at any time. But I’m pretty sure that I’ll never look back and regret the years that I spent with my kids, that I gave to my kids. And I’m equally sure that the time I dedicate to Kyle and to my other family and friends will not have been wasted. The rewards I’ll reap from having dedicated time to the relationships that are most important to me are, I believe, far greater than putting so many hours into a job that I will look at my children and only see how much I’ve missed.
My family makes me happy. And I never want to lose that.