Creating Good Memories for Your Family
I travel ALOT! …sometimes weekly. My career requires that I commute often to help my organization make a global impact in the lives of people. I get to meet new people, and explore cities and states I once dreamed of visiting. That’s what I’ve wanted to do ever since I was knee high to a grasshopper. Well, not quite that young, but you get my point.
With all the traveling and changing the world, comes time away from my family, especially my children. Sure, they understand. They know that what I’m doing is important. But, does that mean they’re okay with it? Are they really okay with it?
Cheating the Family
I’m reading an excellent book: “Choosing to Cheat: Who Wins When Family and Work Collide” by Andy Stanley. Don’t let the title scare you. The book isn’t about infidelity. Andy writes, “I have spent hundreds of hours with men and women who have cheated their families for the sake of their career goals…. Suddenly, their kids had withdrawn.”
I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine waking up one day as a successful professional, only to realize my family is withdrawn from me. I can’t imagine being a stranger to them. Hugs and kisses turn to indifferent waves or simple “Hellos.” The warm “Daddy’s home!” turns into, “Oh, I forgot he was coming home today.”
Andy goes on to say, “Whereas work is task-related, the family is relationship focused. One is about doing, while the other is about loving. Work is about doing. Family is about being.”
This forced me to ask myself, “Who do you want to be for your family? Have you become so busy about doing great on the job, that you’ve become distracted from being great at home?”
I’ve made a decision to not sacrifice my family on the altar of career success. I want to be great at those things that matter to them. Does that mean quit my job so that I can spend 100% of my time demonstrating my love? Of course not. The Good Book says, “If a man doesn’t work, he shouldn’t expect to eat.” I have mouths to feed, and movie tickets to buy on the weekends. I’m doing whatever it takes to impress upon my family that they are my #1 priority. Everything else I do is secondary. It isn’t always easy demonstrating that; but I’m getting better.
Growing up, my dad made me feel like I was important to him. He wasn’t the perfect dad, but he was always around. No he didn’t quite get involved in every detail of my life, but he was always around to encourage me to press toward my dreams. I knew my dad loved me. He’s still around by the way. He still kisses me on the forehead whenever I visit him in Miami. He still asks me about my eating habits; still warns me about not trusting people; still reminds me to love my family. The list goes on and on and on.
My memories of life with my dad are good memories. I remember fishing with him near Key West Florida. I remember walking through a swarm of mosquitoes during that trip. It seemed like midnight while we walked along the shoreline of some beach before launching out into the ocean to go fishing. The mosquitoes were eating me alive. I guess that’s why I hate them now.
I remember one fishing trip when my dad inadvertently caught stingrays, instead of fish. Stingray after stingray were flopping around in that little “chapincito” my dad called our little boat in Spanish. My dad seemed larger than life to me and a man’s man while handling those stingray. Too bad we couldn’t keep them.
I have so many fond memories of my father.
Start Creating Today for Tomorrow
I want the same for my kids. I want them to one day say the same of me when they get my age. I’ve learned that this involves creating good memories in the present. What I do with my family today will impact their future.
Even as I’m writing this, my son Daniel is with me during one of my business trips to Los Angeles. During this trip, he flew on an airplane for the first time, and got to sit in the pilot’s seat and wear the pilot’s hat. Sure he’s missing a few days of school. But he’s experiencing what other kids only read about in books.
When Daniel becomes an adult, embarks on his career path, and starts a family of his own, I want him to recall this memory and smile. I want him to recall every single detail and share it with those closets to him.
I want my daughters to remember the day I kept them and their brother out of school to go bowling. They won’t focus on the skipping school part, but rather on the fact that Daddy had just come back from a long trip, and took time to do something special for us.
Remember, work is about doing. Family is about being!