Since before even becoming a dad, I always thought my role as a father was to be the family’s provider. I was raised in an environment where undoubtedly that was the case— but it also didn’t help that the corporate environment where I started my career also highly valued money over time. Therefore it’s no surprise that I grew to be an adult fascinated with focusing on my career to make as much money as I could, even at the expense of my personal time.
Then boom. As a couple, we had to deal with a series of health issues. At the start of our relationship, it was mine: a serious case of shingles that evolved into neuralgia caused by the stress of working in a toxic environment. Then, after we got married, my wife had to go through a very serious flare-up of lupus, an autoimmune disease triggered by stress.
At this time, I still had to go to an office while my wife went to doctor’s appointments and dealt with the pain by herself. It was a rough period for us. As a guy, I had so much pride that I didn’t talk to anyone about it. Not family, friends, or co-workers. Our investment properties couldn’t get managed and we were losing money every month. I was frustrated and anxious. Yet I didn’t want to give up my job for fear of not being able to provide.
After seeing less than minimal improvements in her health for about 2 months, I realized that I wasn’t providing for my family in the way that really mattered. Was the priority of the household at the time to focus on money? No, we had bills of course, but there’s so much more to life than living to work. I should’ve been able to provide time instead.
Many of us men have this perplexed thought where we assume that just by being at work we are doing a service to our family when in reality there are so many other ways to make a living that also allow you to be home and enjoy the people you love most.
So big decisions were made. We decided to move from Miami to Orlando to decrease the stressful lifestyle we associated with the city and take advantage of the equity we had gained on a home we had purchased outside of Brickell. I gathered the courage to quit my job, only to be offered an opportunity from my boss at the time to hold on to my job while working remotely.
I then began to realize how much time is wasted at an office. I found that my newly discovered free time was being used to help relieve stresses for both of us. I worked when I was most productive, and I embraced things that I didn’t have time for before- like working out. I became more active in the household, we had time to focus on health, and we lived a more relaxed lifestyle. We were then tackling the illness together; we were both on a raw vegan diet that would hopefully benefit her health and I would make sure she had turmeric teas on hand to get rid of any inflammation. And so after just a few months of us focusing on ourselves and not our jobs, her lupus went into remission!
Years after, the lessons I learned from that period of my life still influence my decisions today. Before having my daughter, I left where I was at to work for a company where everyone worked remotely and the job offered better paternity leave. I started seeing my job as just a paycheck, but surprisingly I was also doing well in it. In the period since my daughter was born, I’ve had titles such as Senior Marketing Manager, VP of Marketing, & now Head of Growth. But when people ask me what I do, I first and foremost talk about me being a dad, then our real estate investments, and then if I feel like it, I’ll talk about my job. I’m no longer tying my identity to my career, and it’s allowed me to break free from making decisions that are only better for a toxic patriarchal fantasy as opposed to what’s truly best for both myself and my family.
Sometimes I get into these periods where I find myself leaning towards working harder than I should for my job only to be reminded that the best job I’ve ever had is that to be a father. So I close the computer, I play with my kid and worry about getting stuff done later. The more I do this, the more productive I become in the time I dedicate for work. And as loyal as I am to the companies that allow me to deliver results in this structure, I’ll happily walk away from a role, title, and salary, the second they take away from my job as a father. We can always downgrade our lifestyle and figure out ways to cut costs if need-be, but I’ll never get my time back with my family.
And now, as my wife and I embrace the lifestyle of work-from-home parents, we have our own chaos to manage in figuring out how to keep a house going and get jobs done with a 2-year-old high-energy toddler. But I’ve got a happy little girl to smile at while I work on projects and a sexy, smart work-wife that also doubles as my real wife that has me going with great conversations all day. Time is the form of currency that matters to me now, and I’ve got a much better motivator– the “need to provide” time for my family.