There are days when I just want to be a stay at home dad. Yesterday was one of them.
I was going through some old pictures on my phone, trying to find one of my son with a cape. It was for a presentation I was preparing, for a conference at which my business partner and I are speaking.
As I was scrolling on my phone, I started to press on various pictures of him when he was eighteen months old. He was walking but still wobbly. He could talk but still slurred.
Then, I started to watch the videos, those ten to thirty-second clips of vivid life from the past–nostalgia at its best. And, I got this gut wrenching feeling.
You know that feeling, where it seems like someone has their hands inside of your gut and their just grabbing, pushing and pulling–like they are kneading dough. Except it isn’t dough but your innards.
I realized that that feeling was sadness. I felt a sharp regret for missing out on some of that time. It was time that I would never get back. And, I yearned for it.
I yearned for it even though it was an impossible desire. And, that only amplified the pain.
At the time when I took those pictures, work was taking most of my time. I was traveling every other week and swimming in work. My business was having one of the most successful times we’ve ever experienced. But, we were also right on the cusp of going through one of the worst times we’ve had.
And, as I all of those memories swept over me like a rising tide, I asked myself, “Why do I work so hard?” I also wondered, “Why am I so ambitious?”
To be honest, I’m not sure. It might be for other people, but I don’t think so. I’ve always wanted to achieve. I’ve always pushed myself. It is what I do, even when I was younger. And, I don’t know how to live differently.
But, when I look at those pictures of my son with his adorable cheeks and hear his slurring words, it crushes me. All of my ambition wastes away. And, I dream of just staying at home every day, all day.
Eventually, I left the office and went home and told my wife about my internal struggle; she said, “Oh, I spent every day with him, and I still get sad because I felt like that still wasn’t enough time.” What she said made me feel better.
But, I still wonder if I’m doing the right thing by feeding this hunger inside of me to achieve. I don’t know if I’ll ever rid myself of the tension between work and family.
What I really want is to be a full-time dad and full-time entrepreneur. Impossible, but one can wish.
When I come back to reality and stop whining about what I don’t have, I regain a sense of gratitude for the family I love and work I enjoy.
I resolve myself to try to live life fully, even if I can’t have everything I want.
But, I can be grateful for everything thing I’ve been given.