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