Finding “Balance” between work and family

I read many of the posts here on Linkedin, and I find it interesting, so many writers with so many followers many of them professing the virtues of “balance”. They pontificate on how much needs to be given up and what loss must be suffered to effect this illusive “balance”

Penelope Trunk dared to discuss openly, her attempt at “balance” and was mercilessly attacked for having “exchanged success for family”, as if they were, somehow exclusive, one from another. She was accused of being a “bad mother” because she put her “business before family”.

Today I cleaned out a warehouse that I had sold. The young man who purchased the building was there, sweeping the floors and clearing the space for his new venture. With him were his sons and his daughter. They swept, as I did, for my father, as a boy. He was kind and instructive as they each worked hard to help Dad to complete the task at hand. He said ” if we get done today before noon, there will be ice cream for everybody before we go to pick up mommy”.

He is the best kind of man, and father. He is teaching his children how to work, and the relationship between effort and reward. This is the finest kind of parenting.

When I was a boy, I looked forward to Saturday. On Saturday, I got to go to work with my Dad. He is gone now, but some of my fondest memories are the two of us working, me sweeping, and him sawing and hammering into the late evening. He was kind and understanding. He said to me many times,”you are a hard worker. You can outwork anyone”. I was so proud. He believed that hard work was a beautiful thing.

My father built the first home that my family had with only hand tools after work. We lived in a concrete block basement until it was finished. With those kind, rough hands, he lifted our family from near poverty to prominence.

Each of his children have accomplished many varied and significant things. None was lazy. None was a failure. None an addict. My brother holds twenty some patents in the U.S. and over fifty internationally in the aerospace industry. My sister was a medical doctor, an arctic explorer and a New York Times best-selling author. As I tell my mother, two out of three is not bad.

My father is the greatest man  I have known. He was a builder, that is why I am a builder. He was kind and strong, and honorable. He had no balance. He had three growing children who would one day become builders, rocket scientists, and doctors. He saw it as his responsibility to be sure that they could.

As children we used to stand at the screen door with Mom  and wait for the lights of dad’s truck coming down the dirt road. It was near bed time when they would appear. He would hug us and put us to bed. He was long gone when we awoke in the morning. We never doubted his love. We knew that he worked those hours for us.

I suppose that any of these do-gooders would say that I have worked way too hard. I have not been a fixture at soccer games nor grade school recitals.

To those who hurt so because their job takes them away from their children, I offer the example of my father.

Show them that you love them, but show them, too, that work is not drudgery to be endured, but one of the most rewarding things that life has to offer, and its secondary result is the security and well-being of a family. That, my friends, is love.

Scott Cahill

Raising Children to be Great Men

Marquis de LaFayette was born 1757. He was a friend of Jefferson, Hamilton, Franklin, and Washington. He was commissioned an officer in the musketeers at the age of thirteen. He was made a captain at eighteen. He later was made a major general at nineteen. His marriage was arranged when he was thirteen.

In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Juliet is thirteen years old, in love, making love, and dying. Soldiers around the world are taking up arms and dying at such young ages. It was thus in our own Revolutionary War.

I remember riding down the road, sitting on my dad’s lap and steering. It was long before I was ten years old and long before I could reach the pedals. All of the boys in my neighborhood drove long before we were sixteen. Farm boys drove trucks loaded with hay and tractors when too small to properly reach pedals. They drove because they were not yet big enough to throw the hay onto the wagons.

At eighteen, we were grown men. We were treated as grown men. I got a job as a carpenter. I was serious and competent. At nineteen I was hired to manage the construction of shopping centers in the northeast. We were allowed to drink 3.2% beer at the age of eighteen. We all drove cars that were bought with earned money. We all were serious, competent, and capable men long before our eighteenth birthday.

Now, in America boys are not men at sixteen, or eighteen, or twenty. They ride in car seats until they are twelve, a year before LaFayette was made an officer. There are so many excuses; “let them be children” “let them have fun”, yet they enter life and the work force so poorly prepared. They have so much catching up to do. Many never catch up.

We treat them as incompetent, and, therefore, they are. We treat adults as children, and, therefore, they are. We make excuses for their youth when they are long since grown men and women.

When does a man become a man? When does a woman become a woman? It is not societies decision, nor the decision of parents. It is for each of us to decide when we are ready to shoulder responsibility. Certainly, we are capable long before we reach the age of eighteen. In a society, so flawed as to allow a man to take up arms and fight in wars, still denying him the freedom to have a beer if he should live through it, we have distorted even manhood and womanhood. Our government, any government will only fail at such dictates. It has always been so. It always shall be.

We owe our children the freedom to grow at their own pace, to take responsibility and risk of their own volition, unencumbered by the failing memories of the old, or the incompetent understanding of government. Our children have been denied freedom by our government’s intervention in our lives, and, indeed by ourselves. Our misguided effort to protect is foolhardy and is contrary to a people who value freedom and personal responsibility.

Frank Martin, S.C. head Basketball coach says it well; “You know what makes me sick to my stomach, when I hear grown people say that kids have changed. Kids haven’t changed. Kids don’t know anything about anything. We’ve changed as adults. We demand less of kids. We expect less of kids. We make their lives easier instead of preparing them for what life is truly about. We’re the ones who have changed”.

Parents, not any government, County, State, or National, should decide what is right for children. Parents must again take the responsibility of raising their children. Nothing, handed down as a mandate of a government has ever succeeded at nurturing or at teaching a single child. Our government has overstepped its bounds and it needs to get its filthy fingers out of our homes and families. Safety is a fantasy. It is used to control you, to control your children, to control your family. It is a tool of totalitarianism. Those who fear can be manipulated. It is better to live a short life free, and to die early, than to live a life as a prisoner of another, or as a prisoner of misguided rules and laws, which seek to control your every action.

Children deserve a father and a mother, love, and trust. They deserve to be treated as responsible men and women. Children deserve freedom, as do we. They deserve the freedom to be who they wish, to make mistakes, to spread their wings. They deserve to be allowed to have free thought and to grow, and to flourish or to fail with the family close by, not as police, but as support.

Scott Cahill

Brothers

I grew up in the country on a dirt road. It is now paved and straight. So much has changed. Next door to our little house, that my dad built without power tools, was one neighbor. We had big yards. I came to know every blade of grass, every dandelion as I mowed the yard a million times.

My brother is an incredible man. We have loved each other for more than half a century, and that has never changed for a moment, nor will it. The neighbors were more than neighbors. They were an extended family. They were truly fine people. We didn’t know that back then. Our little neighborhood was all that we knew. All of us were honorable and all of us were strong. I imagined that all men were thus, now, I know better.

I stopped at a little restaurant in my little development in my little town and I had a beer and met my wife as we finished our work day yesterday. In came Ron. Ron is one of my neighbors from my old neighborhood. He is still the fine honorable man that he was so long ago. He is a few years younger than me. That was once a big difference, now it is nothing. Time is an odd companion. It changes everything, yet it changes nothing.

Ron introduced me to one of his sons, I saw in his mannerisms, the character of Ron and his brothers, men of honor and strength and character. Perhaps, there is a chance for the world after all. It is always wonderful to see these men. They ground me. They remind me of who I am. I judge myself in many ways. My “self” is tested in the words of my father. Though he is gone, his words echo through my mind. I hear him as I speak the words that he patiently taught. It is so, too, with Ron and his brothers. They taught me how to play baseball, how to drive, how to be “cool”. They taught me, without my knowing, how to be a man.

Ron had siblings. They were Larry, the oldest, Judy, Linda, Bill, Jim, Bob and Ron. In our family there was my sister, Jerri, my brother, Eric, and myself. All of us were intelligent and resourceful. All of us worked hard. We took care of each other. Bill, the next older boy, kept me in line. We knew where we stood in the pecking order. Bill was fast, strong, and incredibly cool. He was my mentor and he was my protector. He saw my struggles, and he took me under his wing, and he made me cool, simply by acknowledging me.

When Ron and I parted last night the last words that I said to him were “I love you”. I suppose that it might have been odd for a strong, successful gentleman to be told that he is loved by another dude in a crowded restaurant. I watched my beloved sister die, as Ron and his brothers and sisters watched their incredible brother, Larry die. I promised, then, that I would never fail to tell those who I loved that I loved them. It is very important.

I do love Ron, and Jim, and Bob, Bill and Linda and Judy. I loved Larry, who taught me so much. I loved my sister and I love my brother. It is a deep and an everlasting love – a love for men and women who know what it is to be a man, to be a lady. Strong people, people who made me a better man by knowing me, and by loving me.

Scott Cahill