A few years ago my life was so busy, I was travelling a lot all over Europe, arriving home on a Friday night, Sally would do my washing on Saturday, and then pack again (and sometimes leave again) on a Sunday. It got to a point where I was away from home for almost a third of the year, I know this because I had to track travel for tax purposes but the purpose kind of changed and I began looking at it as a way to see how long I’d been away from my wife, Sally.
When I got married I took this really seriously, I was really nervous about this due to previous experiences. My mother and father had an unsuccessful marriage – well it was a success in that they had myself and my brother, David, however it was unsuccessful because they didn’t stay together to bring us up. I didn’t see my dad from the age of 5 right up to 30, and when I met him he told me he wasn’t a good father, but he was a great businessman. I can’t dispute this, he worked his way up from sweeping the floor at a carpentry business to owning and expanding it, he’s really successful but as I told him when I met him, he was now too late to be my father – my mother had taken care of that herself. It actually hurt when he said these words, it was like he was more proud of being a success in business than he was at being an absent father – I haven’t seen him again since.
What he did teach me through this meeting is that you can’t roll back time, he wanted to be my father but it was too late, I had done my growing up. I used this when looking at my travel tracker and remembering my wedding day when I made a promise to be Sally’s husband, partner, best friend, and to take care of her. This wasn’t a part time commitment, it was full time and for life. I didn’t want to look back at the end of the year and celebrate another year of marriage but then to have been absent for 100 days of the year, that would make me a part time husband. This made me think about the following, a full time broom with part time parts – I didn’t want to be that broom celebrating a long service award based on flawed principles.
The tracker took the sub-conscious and made me conscious, I was conscious I wasn’t a full time husband and was also conscious my job wasn’t leading to anything long lasting. When I say long lasting I mean I could have just continued travelling and earning money, but what I really wanted to do was travel, train and coach people, and then for these people to take control of work locally or to take over the travelling as the next generation of continuous improvement experts – I often said I wanted these people to do so well I was no longer needed, that would show I’d done a good job with them. What actually happened was demand on my time grew, demand to travel grew, and it got to a point where I was told my job would be up to 80% travel which was the point at which I said no more. I would not sacrifice my marriage commitments for the sake of career and money. My dad taught me an important lesson and whilst I admired his business success, I saw the great person that he left behind (my mother) and didn’t want to be like him.
This has contributed a lot to the path I now tread, a few days left in my job before I leave, a very supportive wife telling me everything will work out well, and a future of which I’m both excited and scared of. There are already new doors opening and I will do my best to kick them open and make best use of these opportunities. I will do my best to contribute more at home and also be more of a support to my mother – she’s already enjoying me going round her place on a Friday morning for our little breakfast club. Sally and myself won’t be joined by the hips all the time, we have our separate hobbies which give us headspace and “me-time”, she still goes to work at 6 and returns home by 4, I will do whatever I end up doing, but we will brush our teeth and kiss each other goodnight at the end of the day and wake up together with me lying in the middle of the bed and Sally clinging onto the edge in the morning far more often.
As I was growing up I didn’t realise how the experiences of my parents would affect me, I didn’t miss my dad, probably because I had never really had him around. It’s as I got older and put the vague memories I had into context, comparing to my life now and what I see around me, that I realise how much all this has affected me. I know for sure the decision to not have kids was lead by these memories, I didn’t want to take a risk, have kids, be an absent father while travelling a lot or worse still be an absent husband like my dad was to my mother. I’m sure this also contributed towards my brother never getting married or having kids as well.
I’m not saying any of these paths or decisions are right or wrong, they are just paths and we all take different ones in our lives, these paths can be defined by previous experiences and by what we see around us in both positive and negatives ways. There is a time when travel is great (meet some amazing people), being home is less important (maybe you are young or single), and career is important (we all need money to set ourselves up in life), but then as we go through life things change. I’ve been through all of these stages myself so I’m not judging people who do different, I’m just thinking out loud about my own choices and I can see the path I’ve taken and reasons for this path clearer.
A random ramble today, as has been the case recently it’s me being both reflective of the past and optimistic of the future. A bit of a sudden end and maybe a “so what” from people. The “so what” is just to maybe self-reflect on yourself, don’t laugh at or judge me, just think about how this relates to you, your family, your friends, your life choices.
All the best