I was cleaning up the kitchen one night after everyone was asleep.
I had made quite a mess cooking that night (as is my habit), and so by the time I was drying the last pot, I was a little bleary-eyed. So when smoke rose out of one of the pots I was drying, it didn’t startle me so much as it made me aware of my deep tiredness.
But when that smoke formed into a Genie, I was suddenly fully awake!
“Hey Brad, I’m the Fatherhood Genie here to grant you three wishes for your experience of being a Father and CEO/entrepreneur. Looking back on 20 years of doing both, what would you want to change?”
“Wait,” I replied, “I don’t get to wish for things in the future?”
“Naw, that messes with the space/time continuum. I’m looking to help out other folks who are still on the journey you’ve been on…”
This Genie deal isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!
“OK, I’ll play along. Three things I’d wish I knew from the start of my 20+ year journey being a Father of five and business owner.”
Be a CEO, or a Father, don’t multitask.
There were many days when my kids were young (and sadly, even now) when they wanted my attention – and I still had work to do! So I might try to show them some attention – carrying on a conversation where my end of it involved a lot of, “Oh yeah? Huh, wow. OK…” While was reading an email or writing a job description.
That occupied them for a bit so I could finish up, but what I really meant was I wasn’t paying attention to them, nor was I paying attention to work. So it’s the worst of both worlds.
Instead, I wish I’d stopped what I was doing and say, “I can listen for 5 minutes, then I have to finish this.” Or I could say, “Can you give me 10 minutes to finish this – then I can pay attention.”
It makes me feel less guilty, I give my clients better work, and my kids get my undivided attention.
I missed things, but it’s OK.
There were times that I had to say no to things because I wanted to be home for my kids. Dinners with prospects, networking opportunities, early morning meetings, baseball games…whatever. If I wanted to be a dad, it meant saying NO to some possibilities that would have been fun or advanced my business.
I also had to miss some things with kids; I made many parent/teacher conferences – but not all of them. I saw many sporting events, band performances, and special moments – but missed some too.
It’s OK to miss some things.
Hardly anything is a one-time event. There will be another performance or networking opportunity. Nothing is a make or break it moment. At least it wasn’t for me.
I can’t be perfect – I’m better off trying to be good enough.
We all have people in our lives who are those parents.
The ones who do everything right. They have a completed baby book by their kid’s first birthday. Their holidays are picturesque, and their vacations stress-free. Their kids get straight A’s, are athletic and creative and kind…it makes me a little sick to my stomach.
But I got over my envy (well, mostly) and decided, “Good for them!”
I’m not going to try to be them! Instead, I want to be “good enough.”
I’m trying to keep them fed. Ensure they have clean clothes and aren’t playing with fire or knives (very often). I want them to feel loved and accepted, have a place to go with questions, worries, or dreams – even if I miss them sometimes.
You don’t have to be a superhero dad to win at parenting. If you are there, you listen and encourage; it’s enough. They mostly ignore you anyway.
Those are my wishes that would have made my parenting easier. What are yours? Hit reply and let me know.