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The Moment I Realized I’d Missed So Much of My Son’s Childhood

So, one of our big projects this summer is shuffling our kids’ bedrooms. A coupla years ago, when we split the girls up out of the room they had been sharing, we put our eldest into our converted office. Over the last few months, she lobbied us regarding the relative unfairness of the the oldest child having the smallest room. As enlightened parents (who get really tired really quickly of our children’s “lobbying”), we agreed and began the process of moving people around.

Part of the process has involved jettisoning a lot of stuff (clothes, toys, preschool art projects, etc.) for which we no longer have room. Were we more industrious, we would sell a lot of it on craigslist, but, instead, we just took van-loads of stuff to Goodwill.

So, a couple of mornings ago, I was driving to work when a stack of Goodwill-bound stuff in the far back of the van caught my eye. Perched on top were my son’s Tonka trucks which had, until recently, resided in our backyard sandbox. A little concerned, I called my wife to ask her the background and was told that our son didn’t play with them anymore. “Of course he does,” I insisted. She replied that she hadn’t played with them in two years. I told her that he did still play with them, in my mind anyways. She stuck to her guns then asked why this was such a big deal.

I thought for a minute, then admitted that I had always seen those trucks in the sandbox when mowing and promised myself I’d spend more time with our boy in the sandbox. Seeing them being carted out made it clear that I’d missed an enormous window of opportunity to spend time with my heir.

It hit me that I’ve spent pretty much my entire adult life working as late or later than any boss expected, hoping to perpetuate my desired reputation as a team player. I realized, however, that not a single one of those bosses could probably remember a single time I worked late, nor did they likely care. In essence, I have robbed my family of my time in order to please people whose affection and loyalty will never approach that which my family offers so freely.

Time and again over the past 20 years, I have left work late, doing one more task/project/email or waiting ’til the boss left first, leaving my wife and kids hanging.

So, I snagged one of the trucks and put it on my bookshelf as a very visible reminder to get the hell out of Dodge at an appropriate time.

Touching, no?

Well, since I put it on my shelf, I have left work at or after 7 PM all but two or three times … not good.

So, touching story aside, I’m going to keep trying, one day at a time, to honor my employer with a full day’s work then honor my family by arriving home at a sensible, fair time. Will it always work? Nah. But if I can go from one good day a week to two then work my way to three, I’ll get there.

I’ll keep you posted.

This article was syndicated from Medium.