At the start of every summer, Connor asks me the same question:
“Why do you have to work in the summer?”
It’s an excellent question, especially from a kid’s point of view. Hey, if a kid doesn’t have to do his work in the summer, why should a parent?
Every year, I fumble with the response:
“Well, Connor, it’s different for adults. We only get about three weeks off a year – not three months.”
He looks puzzled. And I end up feeling guilty and frustrated.
It sucks to have to work so much. I’d love to be able to take off blocks of time (especially in the summer) to spend with Connor without worrying about how many vacation days I had left.
Single dads like us have enough regret with the breakup of the marriage. Then you add in all the hours we spend away from our kid – and we can feel totally inadequate.
My son calls me a workaholic. I don’t think I am, but it’s his perspective that counts, not mine.
He’s always one of the last kids left at school. I can’t pick up Connor most days until close to 6 p.m., when the after-school program ends. A lot of parents pick up their kids when school ends at 3:30. A few more parents arrive at 4, a few more at 5 – then there’s me, bringing up the rear.
Sometimes, I’m even late. Connor’s school charges parents $1 a minute past 6 p.m. Once, I had a $30 fine. Paying the fine hurt. But seeing the disappointment in Connor’s eyes hurt even worse.
I remind myself, I’m fortunate to have a job that pays enough to send him to private school and provide for his needs. But I wish I had the financial freedom to always be a parent first and employee second.
Too often, those roles get reversed.
THE TAKEAWAY: Work hard to provide for your child’s needs. But look for ways to spend more time with your kid and less at the office.