I absolutely love being a father (I never really thought I would this much) but it’s so damn tough sometimes.
It’s not because I find parenthood in itself that hard, but because as an entrepreneur, you have a choice all the time of what to do all that time. This brings me to a sad reality:
there are tons of opportunities in entrepreneurship but not every one is worth your time.
The problem is – you can’t really know if a meeting here or there will be productive because you have to try. It’s in our nature as entrepreneurs to take risks.
With kids, it’s entirely different.
You know exactly what’s going to happen – you’re going to have your kids with you and it’s going to be amazing. Every moment I spend with mine is a moment I can’t spend better. It can’t possibly get better because I get to teach them something about life or just goof around.
Yet, at least for me, there is this nagging parental FOMO I can’t seem to get rid of.
I fear I’m missing out on the exact percentage of things that I end up wasting time on. The reality is that not every opportunity will pan out the way we want to, that it’s time we could spend infinitely better – with our family.
When I’m with them, I’m fearing I’m missing out on something huge, and when I’m not with them, it’s beyond fear – I KNOW I’m missing out on precious time I’ll never get back.
The delicate act of balancing time
For starters, it doesn’t help that what we do as entrepreneurs is a tough gig on its own.
There is a lot of uncertainty attached to it, the pressure is through the roof, and you can give it your all and wind up with nothing to show for – and not just once. You have to have really thick skin to endure all of it.
Now add parenthood to that equation and it’s a whole different set of challenges to navigate around and problems to solve.
Family should be your main priority – but then again, aren’t you prioritizing their wellbeing and future by juggling business calls and opportunities? Isn’t everything we do for them, to create a better world for them to live in?
I don’t want to be too busy to enjoy the fun of parenting but I also don’t want to lose my identity as what I do professionally keeps me going and challenged in more ways than one.
These are the thoughts that sometimes occupy my mind, as I’m sure they do with fellow entrepreneur parents.
Priorities are really difficult to master in this situation because entrepreneurs are both blessed and cursed with the option of choice.
We have that choice 24/7 and have to balance it out against our responsibilities. I can do a meeting that is important for myself but at the same time, I know I could have taken my two boys to football practice.
Is there a logical way to figure this out?
I don’t think so because it’s an emotional decision, and emotions are a major factor in every entrepreneurial decision-making. The best you can do is approach every decision rationally and hope you made the best decision.
At the end of the day, we have to remember that as much as having kids is like having little friends you can hang out with any time, we are their parents first and foremost. As a father, it’s another job for me where I have a giant responsibility – including showing them that doing what I do (aka having a job) is a responsibility.
It’s a bitter pill to swallow when you have to say ‘no’ to spending time with kids, which makes it a hard and easy decision at the same time.
On one hand, it’s a credible ‘no’ because you have to be reliable to the people you take responsibility for. As a parent, you feel the same responsibility for your children as you do for your respective company and its employees.
On the other hand, I have to be strong enough to be a disappointment in their eyes sometimes because we can’t go to the park, have me act as a climbing tree, and so on.
So, it’s a game of balance with no guarantees you’ll get right all the time.
That is what makes me sad sometimes. You want to always be there for them, especially at early, sensitive ages – but you can’t.
Make no mistake: I sympathize with people who are not entrepreneurs. As much as I find balancing parenthood and entrepreneurship grueling, they don’t have the choice to have two days a week reserved for a quality family time like I do. I can afford those gaps in my weekly schedule so that I’m fully engaged with my kids when we’re together.
For most other people, that’s a luxury they can’t afford. It’s a little bit worse on them but it’s difficult on all of us.
Is it worth it?
The best part about this entire situation is that it’s not either/or type of thing.
There’s always a choice to grow your business and brand a bit slower than you anticipated. It comes at a cost as there are some things you have to let go of, but I find it’s worth it.
It’s paramount to have a supportive partner so that whatever decision you make doesn’t affect the co-parenting relationship.
Now, I don’t know if being a father of two highly energetic boys (something they inherited from me) is a bit easier as some data suggests. These notions may be rooted in a belief that girls are more emotional, especially during their teenage years, and are harder to raise as such. Fear over threats to their safety as they’re perceived more vulnerable likely plays a part too.
What I do know is that it’s doubly hard on parents who are both entrepreneurs.
My wife is a stay-at-home mom for the time being so we don’t have that problem. Still, I can totally see how downsizing one’s career expectations to be able to prioritize family can pose problems down the road.
So, if you’re thinking about going into parenthood, make sure you understand the extra amount of pressure that will be added when running a business. Success in both parenting and careers can be achieved, even though it comes with hard choices.
With kids, nothing is ever easy. But at the end of the day – I say – totally worth it.