I am proud and confident to say that after 13 years of fatherhood, I am an active and fully engaged father. The responsibility is enormous and filled with challenge each and every day. Has the financial responsibility of raising two children come with sacrifice? Hell, yeah! But no toy, gadget or trinket can ever replace the sheer joy and pleasure that I get from being a father to two amazingly wonderful and completely healthy daughters.
There are many fathers out there who are, fortunately, realizing and enjoying the same thing, which I think represents a shift in societal trends.
However, there are many more men in long term relationships who have been relegated to the role of sperm donor or “wallet”. While they no doubt, enjoyed the act of conceiving, now that they have a child or two, they have assumed the role, some by choice, of sole provider for their new family. I appreciate the challenges associated with that role and while my wife and I both work (we both need to work to keep our boat afloat), I have seen instances where some men take on the role of sperm donor and wallet like they are badges of honor. Their excuse of being the sole income provider, in their mind, is like a “get out of jail free” card from the responsibilities of parenting which go way beyond just providing an income to keep the family machine in forward motion.
“Honey, I have to take a client golfing…won’t be home to tuck the kids in” or “Honey, I have a business trip. I have to go to Jamaica for a company sales conference. Boy will I ever miss you and the kids while I am gone”.
Yah, right…boo hoo! Men who are sole income providers who are taken away from their families to attend these extra curricular business activities never do so begrudgingly. More times than not, they love it.
While I very rarely have to travel and be away from home for business, I do recall one instance when I was at a company event in the Muskokas one summer. We had just had our second child months earlier and my wife was home on maternity leave. I remember taking a moment out just after our dinner event to walk out to the lake in the early evening. The sun was still bright and I remember calling my wife from an Adirondack chair positioned along the water’s edge. The water was still and the lake looked like a mirrored reflection of the beautiful sun-drenched sky. At home, all hell was breaking loose. The kids were ornery and my wife was not much happier. When she asked how I was doing, I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I was mildly tipsy, sitting in a comfortable Adirondack chair beside a pristine lake under a clear northern Ontario sky. So, I lied and told her that something I ate did not agree with me and I was probably going to go back to my hotel room and turn in early.
While the scenery of northern Ontario that night was magnificent, I truly missed being away from home. Do I want the kind of job that requires extended hours at the office or requires frequent travel? For me, no amount of money is worth being away from my children and I can say upon reflection, the benefits of both parents being present in the rearing of their children does result in children who are more grounded, kind and loving.
To all the men out there who are sole income providers, I understand the role that you have undertaken. I appreciate and know that the challenges of living in a big city require an income level that is substantial and requires that you do whatever it takes to maintain that job so that the income continues to flow. However, understand what you are sacrificing in your attempts to surround yourself with many of the bells and whistles of your lifestyle. Do you need the fancy cars? Do you need to fill your houses with toys for your children so that it looks like Toys R Us? Do you really think that a family vacation once or twice a year will heal the wounds left when you are away from home on a regular basis because of work? Do you really think that laying on the couch on the weekend recovering from the week’s work schedule is a way of spending quality time with your children?
Fortunately, we live in a society that allows us the freedom to make choices. We all the have choice to determine the kind of life we live and the kind of life we will provide for our children. But, for just a moment, consider a life for your family where you have the opportunity to be together on a regular basis? Consider a life where you have the choice to not answer that email at 8:00 pm because you are reading stories with your children or sharing a bottle of wine with your spouse? Consider a life where you have the choice to go home after a day of work that doesn’t end at 7pm and didn’t begin before dawn?
You can create the opportunities that will give you the control over your life.
I just celebrated my younger daughter’s tenth birthday. I am startled and shocked by just how quickly that ten years went by…and I am one of those dads who is around…alot! I can only imagine what its like for a sperm donor and wallet?