Life is strange most of the time and it’s worth appreciating the twists and turns. I decided to travel for my work as a consultant about 1.6 years ago. This decision was not made lightly and it has a whole slew of backstory (which I’ll not get into here), but the part I dreaded most was being away from my kids.
However, like I mentioned in the first sentence – a strange thing happened. Lemme explain.
I was there for the early years (until age 3 for both of the little ankle-biters), so I was lucky enough to experience all the newborn snuggling, one-on-one bottle feeding and early bonding moments. Now, however, I am gone monday-friday 50-75% of the weeks I’m working.
I’ll not sugarcoat that – it’s a freakin’ ton of time and it’s never easy.
But you know what? It has amplified my appreciation of exactly what I have at home: one amazing wife and two awesome kids. While I certainly spent a great quantity of time with them before I started traveling, I can say with utmost confidence that my time with them nowadays is full of more quality.
I do have some friends who are spectacular dads without this self-revelation process I’m currently going through, so being a father certainly isn’t the same for all of us. The picture above is lesson-worthy for two reasons, I think.
First, being a father has absolutely ZERO to do with whatever road you take to get there. If you want to be a parent, at the end of the day, in the twilight of your life – you are/were a parent. You nurtured and shaped a life, same as your caretaker(s) did for you (they/she/he cared at least enough to change yer dirty ass and feed yer hungry mouth for 15+ years). In the picture above, we’re just two dudes, discussing what’s in the water below and what we did that day. Every moment with my son is pretty amazing (not just the picturesque ones with a sunset in the background). To think he wouldn’t be here if we didn’t overcome all the adoption hurdles is a life-sucking thought.
Secondly, you should never say things like “I can’t do that” (“I won’t” is a different thing altogether). As a family, I believe we are finally on the course we are happiest on – and all of that started with me traveling for work. Ten years ago I said things like “I cannot be away from home for work.” Ten years ago I thought very differently about publishing my fiction. Ten years ago, I cared what my friends/family/colleagues thought about how I lived my life. Now that I’ve freed myself from those bonds (and all the “I can’ts”), life has no bounds. We don’t live in a self-limiting manner and all I can do is recommend it to anyone and everyone.
I can travel for work and still be a father to my children, husband to my wife and friend to my friends. I can accomplish anything (including an impossible international adoption) and still come out the other side stronger in all ways. I can share my advice and let y’all take it or leave it. 🙂