Ever since I was 15 I’ve thought about being a dad.
I’m not sure if this is similar to others, but I remember often thinking about the sort of situations I’d have to face with my kids, ways I would deal with them and what type of dad I wanted to be.
I always knew I wanted to be hands on and involved dad, so when we found out we were expecting I remember saying to myself,
“They always have to be first priority, no matter what”
Which sounded fantastic back in January.
As the pregnancy progressed things couldn’t have been going better. Things that were supposed to be growing were growing, AmazingWife was healthy and no morning sickness or overly aggressive hormones were anywhere to be found.
Then this feeling started creeping up that I wasn’t doing enough.
I remember 12 weeks into the pregnancy walking into our kitchen, seeing AmazingWife, and having this sudden sensation that I needed to do something for our upcoming family.
The best description I can give is of that sudden, overflowing nervous energy you get on the starting blocks just before a race is about to begin.
I had to do something extra to not only show I could look after them, but to also replace the income we were going to lose.
Something had to be done. AmazingWife was already doing everything on her end, so it was time for me to step up and do whatever was needed to keep us happy and safe.
Which led to me starting a blog, working as a university tutor, beginning a masters degree and working with a maths education company…while also teaching at a primary school full-time.
At first the busyness was great. I had just landed new jobs and projects, my ego had been fed and that extra bit of cash was coming in.
Being busy meant I was providing for my family and being a great husband and dad.
Truth be told there was this part of me that thought people would think I was more of a man because I was busy, which obviously meant I could provide more for my family.
The year moved on and we were all going well. AmazingWife was incredible at looking after herself and the baby, we were having fun, still laughing and enjoying our time together.
Then everything came to a head.
University assessments began.
Curriculum frameworks had to be analysed, correlated and presented.
Blog posts had to be planned, drafted, edited, published and shared.
Work politics ramped up.
Essays were due.
More essays were due.
School Maths Nights had to be organised and presented.
Classroom teaching, planning, assessments and intervention programs had to take place too.
Oh, and a little baby joined our Steele clan.
(Hello utter unawareness, sleep deprivation, loss of control, oh and complete change of life!)
But, it was all good because I was providing for my family while being hands on and involved, right?
Suddenly, time with AmazingWife wasn’t fun and light-hearted. It was tense as she walked on egg shells and I pretended to be present while replaying all of the things I had to do in my head.
Even when I tried to be present I couldn’t manage it.
A notification on my phone would pop up to remind me of an upcoming presentation, university tute, essay writing session, planning session, sports day, blog time or parent meeting. Being present ended up just meaning being present with the multitude of things in my head, instead of where I actually was. Being present seemed impossible.
Eventually, university trimesters concluded, curriculum presentations were conducted, work politics died down and the number of subjects I was studying at university reduced down to one.
I didn’t realise just how much I had changed during that insane time of busyness. It wasn’t until one day AmazingWife turned to me in the car, after crying with laughter from a perfectly delivered gag, and said,“Oh, you’re really back now”.
Do you know what though? Surviving through all of those extra commitments has helped me discover a crucial thing:
Providing for my family isn’t about the money, it’s about being involved, being there.
Whilst there may have been a little bit more income, the extra stress and time away from my family robbed me of experiences I will never be able to get back.
It took me away from something priceless: family.
I don’t know about you, but I’d happily cut spending than miss out on my life, as well as my family’s.
After all, they always have to be the first priority, no matter what.
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