When I clock out of work, I go home and dedicate about 98 percent of my time to my children. I don’t have time to go out and do whatever I want. And if I do go out, it’s basically like loading a school bus with all the kids: get all the kids in their seats, make sure all the kids have their formula, diapers, water, extra changes of clothes. Sometimes it feels like going to the grocery store is like going on vacation: there’s a lot to pack.
Of course, occasionally Tonya (my wife) will tell me to go to the YMCA by myself to exercise, or I’ll encourage her to do the same. But that’s occasionally. And when I’m at home, most of my time is spent playing doctor, chef, maid, mediator, entertainer—you name it.
“My arm hurts.”
“The baby’s playing in the dog’s water bowl.”
“Bubby hit me.”
“Sissy stabbed me with a fork.” (That one literally happened the other day.)
And that’s all fine with me; I love it and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
But amidst the daily hubbub of my family life, there are times that friends will call me and want to go somewhere to hang out. And it feels like I’m always having to turn them down. I don’t want any of my friends to take it personally when that happens, it’s just that I have a family to care for. The fact is, I can’t be as flexible as I could be before I got married and started a family.
So maybe you’re in a serious relationship or newly married, or you’re a new dad or new mom, and sometimes you wonder—sometimes other people might encourage you to wonder—what life would be like if you didn’t have these commitments.
First, I’d say don’t let people make you feel bad or make you regret the path you chose, because you chose that path for a reason. Remember that reason.
Me personally, I love that I chose the family path. I love the responsibility and the chaos. There’s always something right around the corner to keep me on my toes. If I had to switch lives for a day with someone that wasn’t married and didn’t have kids I would go crazy. Being in a committed relationship and having a family is very rewarding to me: I get to watch my children grow and become the people that they are. And I know that there are people that love me with all their hearts and rely on me.
To me, that’s rewarding. It gives me motivation and the spark to keep me going, to keep waking up at 5:30 in the morning for work. If I didn’t have the responsibilities of a husband and father, I probably would’ve just given up on trying to control my anger issues and to keep showing up to work every morning. Knowing that I have people look up at me keeps me going.
Whatever your reason is for going down the family path, remember it. And don’t get jealous that you can’t go out all the time, or do what you want when you want because you have a spouse and children to tend to.
Second, remember the dreams that you can still pursue. Just because I have a family doesn’t mean I can’t still pursue some of my dreams; I can, but only certain ones. Also, I can have dreams that I couldn’t before having a family: for instance, I can want bigger and better things for my children. I can dream that they’ll have the chance to attend college and get jobs that they enjoy going to and have happy, successful lives. And by “success,” I mean that they’re genuinely happy, even if they work at McDonald’s and live in a RV.
But a dream that I don’t think I can pursue now—I just don’t have time for it—is to become an arson investigator. That would take a few years of schooling and time away from my job, which I can’t do now. But that’s okay: that’s a dream I can sacrifice for the sake of my family. I have bigger fish to fry. Then again, maybe I can go to school for that after the kids are grown up. Just because I have to put some dreams on hold now doesn’t mean I have to completely abandon those dreams; they can still happen at a later date. I just have to improvise and dream with my family, instead of without them.
I love my life and family and I couldn’t be happier with the path I chose. And if you’re ever tempted to second-guess your decision to follow the family path, just remember: there’s probably a good reason you chose the family path.