I was offered a new job and all I could think about was my family

I was sitting across from Sally, the director of Academics
for Athletes. She was offering me a new job.
Sally was wearing a black long-sleeved shirt with a collar.
She was in her late fifties, maternal disposition with a soft voice, white curly
hair, and stout hands. She’d worked for the university for about 10 years. I’d
worked at the university for about three. I’d gotten to know her, and her
department, through a shared committee. Somehow I’d impressed these people, and
now she was offering me a life change.  
We talked about the position, the hours, the duties, and the
pay. “I think you’d be great for this,” she said. “We all really enjoy you. You’d
fit in well.”
It was a considerable raise in salary from my current position,
which means I might be able to quit my second job teaching English online. My
previous position was grant funded, so this would be much more secure. I’d get
more vacation and a new cell phone. The building was nicer. However, it would
mean much more responsibility, and potentially more hours.
Despite all the reasons to take the job, all I could think
about as Sally spoke was my family. I felt a pit in my gut. It was a mix of
emotions.  I was flattered to know that
she thought so highly of me. But I was nervous to make the change. I worried
what it might do to my work-life balance. Ever since I turned
30, I’ve wanted to be a father first, and an employee second.
Last year my boss hinted that she’d like me to be the interim
director of the program I currently worked for, and I said I wasn’t interested
because I knew just how much time it would take away from my family. There was
also the fact that I was comfortable in my current job. I knew my schedule, I
knew what to expect, and I knew what time I had to spend at home. It was
consistent, for the most part, and this new offer made me really worried that
I’d get wrapped up in something I couldn’t get away from and fail as a father.
“Can you give me a few days to think about it?” I said.
Sally nodded, “Absolutely. I wouldn’t expect anything else.”
As I left her office, I thought about a man I hardly knew.
My father. He was a heating and air-conditioning contractor and business owner
who spent most of my early childhood at work. To ease the stress of managing
his own business, he turned to prescription painkillers and alcohol. He ended
up plowing through four marriages and died at 49 years old. I think about my
father a lot because I don’t want to become him. I don’t want to allow my job,
my ambitions, to keep me from being a good father and husband.
During the next several days Mel and I discussed the pros
and cons. We chatted about the extra money, how much time I thought it might
take, the extra security. We realized that if I quit teaching altogether I’d
actually be taking a small pay cut, but we’d still be able to manage. We prayed
about it. I asked others about the position, including the person who used to
be in it. Everyone seemed to feel that once I learned the job, it would be manageable
in 40 hours a week.
Mel and I went back and forth. It really is surprising how
much having children changes the way a person makes decisions. It has made me
much more reflective, and much less likely to simply jump in. I seem to calculate
everything, and in hindsight I can see that this position was a huge blessing
for my family, but I had to make sure.
I told Sally that I’d get back to her on a Monday. The
Sunday before, we had some company over, and Tristan, my 7-year-old starting
acting up. It wasn’t all that unusual for him to make a scene when around others,
but this time he was much louder and more irritating than usual. Eventually I
had to send him to his room.
Once everyone was gone, I went to have a chat with Tristan.
I asked him why he acted that way, and he said, “I just wanted attention.”
He was sitting on his bed wearing shorts and a green shirt.
His blue-green eyes were a little dewy. “Do you not think I give you enough
attention?” I asked.
He shrugged, sheepishly, and said, “You work a lot.”
I took a step back. Tristan was a smart kid, but I never
thought he was that perceptive. I didn’t want to believe it, so I just finished
out the conversation, reminding him how to act in public.
Once the kids were in bed, I brought up what Tristan said
with Mel.
“I don’t work that much, do I?” I said. After I said the
question, I realized I didn’t know how much I worked. I’d never added it up.
It’s funny how that happens sometimes. I worked two jobs, both of them were
salary, so I didn’t really keep track.
“You’re gone a lot,” she said. “And you work from home a
lot.”
We added up how many hours I was working in a week, and the
number was surprising. Just over 70 hours a week.
“I had no idea,” I said.
Mel nodded. Then she reminded me about how our second
daughter, Norah, was struggling in school and about her own college work. “I’m
having a hard time helping Norah because you are gone so much, and I’m trying
to work on my classes.”
“Are we failing as parents?” I asked. “Am I becoming my
father?”
Mel shrugged, “I don’t know. But what I can say is that I
doubt this job will have you working as much as you do now. At least not from
what I can tell.”
“You’re right,” I said.
The next day, I accepted the offer.

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Clint Edwards was blessed with a
charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, a snarky
little girl in a Cinderella play dress, and an angry baby girl. When Clint was 9-years-old his father
left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and
husband through trial and error. His work has been featured in Good
Morning America
, The New York Times,
The
Washington Post
, The
Huffington Post
, Scary
Mommy
, The Good
Men Project
, Fast
Company
, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and
Twitter.  

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