Last week I went away for six days. By the night of the fifth day, Kate (official wife of Dad Stuff) didn’t tell me but I could feel that she had a voodoo doll that she shoved a sharp pin inside for every frustrating moment I missed.
On my trip I spoke to a colleague is expecting his first child. He told me this after a particular bit of venting about how Kate and I had just begun kinda sorta sleeping again, six months after baby Jake entered our lives. He was a little worried.
It’s actually good to hear a man with some worry in this situation. Our forefathers wouldn’t have had a hint of concern for how the addition of a child would affect their professional ambitions. After all, isn’t that why Yahweh invented women?
Yet a central challenge here is in many professions (name one that doesn’t have a deeply entrenched patriarchy, I dare you), there exist few if any role models for how to be a successful working man and not a shit father.
Part of our perpetual bad system is that we’ve collectively decided that the standard for “hard-working” is the unhealthy amount of time a man with no regard for his own personal life would dedicate. By this standard, even “woke” men who want to be equal (probably more like 40/60) partners in parenting feel immense pressure to compete.
So what can we do about this? One way to start is to stop paying homage to this stupid, dehumanizing system.
In my entrepreneurial journey (I made it sound FUN!) over the last 2+ years, I’ve waffled approximately 50-60 times and applied for “real jobs” to varying levels of success. I’ve made a bunch of interviews and been this close.
I have never avoided talking about how being an equal partner in my marriage and parenting is deeply important to me. Smarter people have told me “don’t do this”, but I continue to say “fuck it” and go for it anyway.
I know that on an individual level I am probably making it harder for myself to get the job. I perceive that the often male hiring people look at me as less than a good fit because of my attitude. They would rather have somebody who will work to the standard of a man with no regard for his personal life, even if they don’t state it that way.
The only way I’m legitimately going to prove to them that they are wrong is by being successful at it in my own business. I actually believe that living a balanced life makes you better at what you do. When I get to hire an employee I’d much rather have somebody who works 35 hours a week and is actually personally fulfilled than someone who grinds 55 hours.
Likewise, if I can’t build a successful business without being a shitty dad then I won’t build a successful business.
Being a father is the most important job that I have, one I hope to never retire from until the day I die. Occasionally I do have to break away from it to do my other job, and doing so helps me to be a better dad too. But I never forget which one is my job job, and which one is the other.