Twenty-four hours is not enough, not nearly enough. The one thing all us family men know is that, no matter how much we may have accomplished on any given day, there’s still more to do. And there always will be.
Call it an unintended consequence of the decision to settle down and live the family life. It’s one of those realities that snuck up on us when we weren’t paying attention, and now it won’t let go. Use to be that our only real responsibility was to our jobs. Show up when we’re supposed to, do what we need to, leave when they let us…that’s all the worries we had.
Sure there were still things we needed to get done, but the difference was those were all things that we asked of ourselves. Those were internal pressures we placed on ourselves. If we forgot to pick up milk on the way home from work back then, no big deal.
If we cared about it enough to go back out that night to get it, then that’s what we did. If we didn’t care that much, we just dealt with it and mixed orange juice or beer into our cereal (also known as “beer-e-al”, and yeah it’s a thing). As long as we were ok with it, no big deal.
Fast forward ten to fifteen years and now in addition to the job, and the internal pressures, we have external pressures. It’s not only ourselves that we have to keep content, it’s the wife and kids too. Now if we forget the milk, it’s a whole big production.
Generally within fifteen minutes of getting home from work, your wife will figure it out. Soon thereafter, so will the kids. And guaranteed, it will be the night that the only thing the kids want to eat for dinner is cereal.
The kids will whine and cry and elaborate on the unfairness of life and the inedibleness of dry cereal. We will find that we are also out of orange juice and remember the last time we introduced the kids to beer-e-al they felt the need to tell their teacher at school about it (again, another whole big production).
In spite of the awful day we had at the office and the four hours of sleep we got the night before, we will get back out in the freezing cold and go buy the milk. We will then come back home thinking that finally we can plop on the couch to relax, and our sweet little wife will ask, “Did you remember the bread?”
The bread? THE BREAD?!?! And then they’ll go on to say how they asked us to get some bread two days ago and we’ll think they’re definitely making this up. Then we’ll remember that the game was on two days ago, and it’s highly likely they tried to tell us something while we were watching it.
At this point the kids will have decided they no longer want cereal for dinner, and instead demand none other than a grilled cheese sandwich. Queue the whining and crying. Restart the vicious cycle.
Now contrary to the opinion of our kid’s teacher that blew the beer-e-al incident way out of proportion, we love our wife and kids. And as demonstrated by our repeated trips to the grocery store, we would do anything for them. Even so, what we have to keep in mind is that our own sanity is also pretty damn important.
For all the cool parts that are included with it, this family life will run us into the ground if we let it. As much as our wife and kids are trying to look out for us, we are ultimately responsible for taking care of ourselves.
Don’t go crazy with this guys. We’ve still got to live up to all our responsibilities. This isn’t an excuse to stop coming home after work. Don’t go full-blown midlife crisis mode here. Just remember that we all need a little time to ourselves. It’s ok to take time out to watch the game. And I highly recommend having a few beers with your buddies on a regular basis.
There’s never going to be enough time to get it all done. But, if you manage yourself right, there’s more than enough time to enjoy every minute of the family life.