What’s all the hustle for?
Who are we emulating? What are we modeling? Not that I should have dropped everything and dashed off to the emergency room at my son’s first sign of a fever, but it took three days to really look up from our businesses as self-employed parents and really get what was going on. Frankly, it even took the pediatrician a couple of days.
I think that’s because we all get so caught up with hitting our marks day-in-day-out that it’s hard to recognize when something isn’t right.
When my husband and I were kids, our parents respectively ran bookstores and veterinary practices, came home, ate dinner and collapsed. Sometimes they went out for the evening. For our fathers especially (the main breadwinners), family existed in the background, a vague extension of who they were, some thing in their lives that they were responsible for. When the family had needs or problems, it was almost as though our fathers were being interrupted. Making ends meet was all that mattered to these ‘heads of household’.
Well here we are today, a metropolitan couple, peer-parents as opposed to how we were raised, and it takes both of us working full-time at our respective businesses to stay afloat. That’s because today we live in a society where, more acutely than in our parents day, income and the cost of living are egregiously incongruent, even for those of us with well-paid skill sets.
So this recent crisis shows me how my husband and I have followed in the footsteps of our fathers, all eyes on the career; just make sure the basics are covered when it comes to the kid: get him to school, keep a roof over his head, get him fed, make sure he isn’t sick and stays out of trouble.
But to what end? So he can step onto the same hamster wheel when his time comes? How is my careerist hyper-focus shaping this member of the next generation?
Kids sound the alarm when life is out of balance in any number of ways. Getting sick is one of them. It’s not that I’ve been a total slacker in the parenting department. This is a wakeup for my son as well; a teenage boy who just hasn’t been able to make the connection to date between proper self-care and survival. Yes, he will die one day too, he is not some immortal who can live on chips and Coca Cola alone. Now if only he’d grock the importance of having his own thoughts and put the phone down for minute.
But that one is largely on us. I’m in awe of parents who have managed to monitor and control their children’s digital consumption. That was lost on me as I busily built my coaching practice and wrote my plays.
But to compare is to despair. My son is a kind, smart kid. Street-wise. And we’re all paying more attention now to what matters: Health, and being there for each other.
Movie nights, discussions on current affairs, civic involvement, (even if that just means your kids know that you vote, for whom, and why) are important.
So as my call to action this week, in addition to your weekly career-ist planning: how are you going to live?
Whether you have kids or not, beyond ‘making it’ in your career, what matters most is to demonstrate what it is to be a mensch.