From BC to AD, the journey of dad
From 1987 through May 26, 2016 BC — before child — the term work-life balance was something off in the distance, for some other person.
From May 27, 2016 through 2019 AD — after delivery — it means something wholly different.
I think about this now, as my daughter approaches her third birthday in a few days.
I go back to 1987 because that’s the first year I held a paying job, and it was the first time I had to think about how to balance making money, paying bills and having a social life — things like that.
And until I got married in 2007, that was the work-life balance. Work, school, bills, social life. That was pretty much it.
When I got married, it became how to balance the relationship I have with my best friend, my wife, against a fulfilling career, bills and a social life. She’ll tell you I didn’t always get that right, especially in the communication department.
But still, it was just the two of us, and our cats — first just one cat and then another, and then back to one cat again. That got us through the first nine-plus years of marriage otherwise unscathed, still truly, madly, deeply in love (that last truly, madly, deeply part, while definitely true, is the title to a song she likes, and something I wanted to throw in the column when the time was right. It’s right).
The last three years, though, with our daughter? Whew, those years have flown by, and they’ve been a doozy.
And they’ve been a terror and a joy all at once. The terror in not knowing whether I was being a good-enough parent, and the joy in watching and experiencing the many milestones that have already taken place in my daughter’s life.
In all that, work-life balance, while it seems a bit too clinical a term for me, is something I struggle to find.
In all the roles I have, being a dad and being a husband are my most important, but yet, I’ve always valued the work I have done and want to do well at everything.
But balancing them? I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to do that.
In the BC days, my wife and I would talk and note how, at least in our marriage, there is no 50-50 in how the workload or anything else is divided. I talked about it in terms of seasons, and how, over time, everything might average out that way, there would be times where she would shoulder more of the burden in our lives, and times where I would.
That has generally been the case, and while I would more than definitely give her the edge in the burdens borne, there was more balance in the first nine years BC, than in the first three years AD.
It’s been my wife’s season lately, and as fatigued as I know she is, she shines as a mom, and she has eased my burdens.
In reflecting over the past three years, just focusing on my daughter for a moment instead of this being all about me since I was allegedly writing about her birthday, she reminds me of, well, me.
OK, I get it, still about me.
Beyond that, her personality is very nearly my own, and whenever I share with my family the things she is doing and how she is acting, both good and bad, they say, “Yup, that was you when you were her age.”
But then I smile, because, for the most part, I like my personality. And when my daughter wants to climb all over me, play chase in our apartment, or draw on everything except paper, it’s more me.
I’m also happy that, in looking at her, she’s getting my wife’s looks — and her smarts. Those are definitely good things, especially when compared to me. I joke with my wife that I got the better end of the deal in the looks and smarts department, but combined with my daughter, it’s like I won the lottery.
So now that I’ve said all that, let me finally get to the lede of all this, courtesy, in part, to the Beatles.
Happy Birthday, Michelle ma belle.
”These are words that go together well, my Michelle.”
No truer words.
AD is going to be all right.