Wednesday, August 10, 2011

full-time family

Today I was exposed to the phrase "full-time family" and I am completely on-board with the concept. I came across the idea, while reading the post, Dreaming up Freedom at EcoWomb. Now, I realize you're going to look at this and ask, "What? You want to live in an RV?" And the answer is, "No. At least not today. Of course, you should never say never." But in all seriousness, I have no interest in living on the open road. What inspires me, however, is the idea that one can create a "full-time family."

Truth is, I think I was raised by a full-time family. My mum was the stay-at-home parent. She managed the house and our schedules with grace and efficiency. And she did so, while taking on active leadership roles in our parish, her charity league and the community. My dad, however, was also very much a part of our every day lives. A sales rep who worked most of his life on commission, I'm sure he felt the pressure of his busy season, but when he wasn't on the road or in a temporary show room, he worked from a home office. I don't ever remember hearing, "Wait until your dad gets home", because he usually was. And even when he was holed away, writing orders or returning calls, he was very present.

I am not present. When I'm at work, I'm at work. And, even when I'm at home, I'm often at work. It's no surprise to my regular readers that I'm struggling with a work-life balance and am desperately looking for a way to find a smarter, more creative way to meet my professional goals and keep a roof over our heads. I guess I'd like to find a way to become a "full-time family."

Chris is 75% there. Of course he has an advantage as the stay-at-home parent. And who knows, he might be sitting in the living room as I write, dreaming up ways to make an escape (I doubt it). But Chris also has the advantage of launching a career that allows for considerable flexibility. My trajectory is a little more complicated. Doing what I do, requires in-person, one-on-one contact. Quite frankly the nature of my career is nine to five at best. Nine to nine at worst. And no, I'm not exaggerating; tonight I walked in the door at 9:20.

So the question is, do I accept the realities of my work because I love what I do? Or do I re-imagine my life-plan? Do I create my full-time family within the confines of what is or what might be?

It's not unheard of. Last year a friend and her family left NYC for their home-town. She and her husband are free-lance artists and are co-parenting their two-year old daughter. Another set of friends moved cross-country with their three children. He's a stage director and she's an entrepreneur. Again, they spend a great deal of their time at home and are truly engaged in their children's lives.

A lot of it is about simplifying. What do we really need to be happy? And once we figure out the answer to the question, cut everything else out of the equation. And who knows we might surprise ourselves with how much, or how little, is required to become a full-time family.

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