So I’m looking around for some inspiration tonight and I stumble upon a little prompter from the Sydney Morning
The Loaded Dog offering an opportunity to answer the Big Questions. Right?
Herald. They are asking the question for their Loaded Dog forum
“are men given enough time to be great fathers?”
I will be sending my own submission.
It is an issue I feel strongly about. I know one thing only about life, and I learned it early: Life is about choices, choices are about sacrifices, and all choices come with a cost.
I chose to go to boarding school. This means I chose to not live at home throughout my high school life.
I chose to go to university. This means I chose to not attempt to earn money at that time. I also chose to not devote sufficient time to my study, which means I chose to not become an engineer…
Later, I chose with my wife to have children.
While Bec was pregnant, I made a firm choice – each time – to use a massive quantity of leave in those early weeks of my childrens lives. I chose jobs which allowed me to be at home, from the time my eldest child was born until my youngest son commenced school.
What I have been doing since August 2011 shows me that I could have made a different choice, which may have resulted in me earning more money.
My son, with me – being A FATHER
But no, I chose to be a father. In quite a traditional sense of the word, as well as in the modern “change nappies, cook food, do laundry, read to the kids” sense of the word. For part of the time between my youngest child being born and my eldest child starting school I was rushing home from work in time for Bec to go to work, so I could cook for, feed, bath and bed the kids, before washing up and tumbling into bed myself.
Sometime through this chapter of my life, I chose to give up my military reserve service. Why? Wholly because it detracted from my time to be a father.
To make this choice, I passed up several opportunities. I did however manage to do all of this while holding down a mid-level public service job, which allowed a sensible level of autonomy and required me to “ensure stuff was done” rather than “be there and do stuff.”
My son with my dog
I will however contrast this with the experience of my brother.
My brother had quite a different childhood to me. He attended school in a different location. He was academically quite challenged, and quite a bit more physically capable than me. He went on to earn a living through shearing sheep, working on farms, and driving trucks.
Even with all of this, his focus for significant portions of his adult life was being around for his children. I look at the choices he made, and the activities he did with his children – camping, horseriding, and a range of other activities – and I feel so jealous that they were different choices to the ones I made. But for any given choice I have made, there was a reason at the time.
So between my own experience, and that of my brother, I suggest that weather you are a white collar professional, or a blue collar worker – you can choose how much time to spend on your job, compared to yourself, compared to your family (including your children).
I have had ample time to be a father. It just means that in devoting that time to be a father, I have chosen to not spend that time on myself, my education, my religion, my sport, or my career.