New Appreciation of Sacrifice of Time

My new job this summer has given me a new appreciation for the folks in the world who make the sacrifice of being away from home to support their family.    I have traveled before for jobs I have held previously.   In my most traveled position, I traveled only about 20% of the time.   This job puts me away from home three nights a week.    Being on the road this much has made me realize how much time so many people sacrifice to make it in life.

We have a friend who is a salesman for a company and covers everything west of the Mississippi.   He has spent about 30+ weeks on the road for as long as I have know him (nearly 30 years now).   He has two great adult children with families of their own.   He and his wife have the kind of marriage we try to have as well, where each is there for the other and figure out ways to be there when it is critical. (There have been some pretty critical life moments for this family).   I never before realized how amazing they were to make it all work with all his time away from home.  When you think about all the divorce rates and kids who turn out in something less than their potential and then blame their family life.   This family has weathered it all and not just survived, they have prospered.    Their love, support and values have made the time that took the father/husband away so much a contributing factor to what they achieved, not a detriment or excuse for what they did not achieve.

My brother was in the Navy.   He worked hard to be with his family as much as possible, but like the military people of past and present that isn’t always possible.  There are big and small moments missed that can never be gotten back.    I never thought about what it must be like to be a single parent for so long and then suddenly have someone show up and have the whole family dynamic change in a day.    One day you get to make almost all decisions unilaterally and then the next there is someone there who wants to be a part of it all.    One day the kids only deal with you and suddenly there is someone else who can say yes or no.  It is a complete adjustment for the family, and rules are shifted in the space of a few hours.   Yet the military people continue to make those sacrifices for their country and to support their family.

In both of these cases I have highlighted the person being away, but the trailing/at-home spouse and the kids make sacrifices as well.   They quickly learn that this is their normal.  That the parent is away because it is how must be for this family.   There is nothing that can be accomplished by wanting a parental presence that can not be.  They learn to appreciate the times they have and adjust with the changes that come with a moving set of how a family looks and functions.  The “keep the home fires burning” parent often has a job as well.   The only difference is that they get to sleep in their own bed at night.   They often have to juggle their job, children and home with no one their to help.   Kids may have to step up and grow up a little faster to help. It is a balancing act and a collaborative effort.

I had thought of this occasionally before.   This job has given me a new appreciation for what one misses out on when you are gone, how they adjust when you blow in to town and that they will adjust again when you hit the road again.   I know at the end of the summer my job will end, and I will be home every night again, but there are thousands of men and women that this is part of who they are and how they support their family.    My hat is off to you because most of us can never imagine what that job costs you and your family.   You are making under what can be very challenging conditions.

Life Balance Never Goes Out of Style

This afternoon RangerSir and I spent some time watching a movie and playing cribbage.   We watched the Karate Kid, the original movie that is 30 years old.   One of things that struck me is that one of the key overriding messages that Mr. Miyagi kept on delivering was about life balance for Daniel.    Thirty years ago there talking about life balance for a young kid, and today I talk about it as well.  

I am still working very hard to find a good balance in work and personal life.   I am trying to finding time to do all those things that I have been pushing aside for later when I have more time and work is less demanding.   I am meeting with some success in these efforts to find that balance.  Just like Daniel in the movie I have to practice things over and over and then suddenly the light bulb goes off and I get it.

I am back to full-time work for the next three months.   It is the busiest time of the year for the nonprofit I work for.   It is easy to get caught up in the efforts to get it all done today.    Already I am often working long work days even though I have been back only a short time.   I keep reminding myself the life balance lessons I have learned when my hours  were cut.    It doesn’t always work, but I am working hard to remind myself, that life is better when I life a more balanced life.

Today should have been my first try at a book club.   Unfortunately I read the first two chapters and found the book dry and it wasn’t doing much for me.   I decided that I will try this again later, but I want to read a book that doesn’t feel like a struggle each page I read.   Right now was the right time to let go of this.   I plan to watch what books they select to read in the future, and try it again, when the book is a better fit.

I am still working towards the 50,000 words that is an imaginary number that according to National Novel Writing Month says you did it.   I am not always writing every day but I am moving forward.   Some days there are enough things going on that writing that day just doesn’t work.   I have a brief moment of regret when I don’t write that day, but it it doesn’t fit, it has to be let go for the day and move on to the next one.

RangerSir and I are on work schedules that don’t mesh at all, by that I mean that our days off do not overlap.   Each of us are working hard at finding meaningful things to do together each day,  when I am still in my office when he walks in the door late at night and dinner is often not started. It would be so easy to blow dinner off and both of us unwind alone laying around the living room.  Instead we have taken to having a good glass of wine with dinner every night.   We are using the process of setting a more formal table every night as a tool to help us do more than dine and dash.   We discuss the day, talk about our observations, discuss politics, and share a dream or idea.   It really doesn’t matter what we talk about it is is that slow conversation that we both are enjoying together.

I am learning that balance in life doesn’t come easy.   You have to want it enough to be willing to fight for it.   If you don’t someone or something else will grab your life and suddenly it is out of control.