After you hit the big thirty comes the daunting realisation time is slipping and waiting in the wings are the twenty year olds who have the passion to go harder whilst you want to go home. If you have hit the big thirty and find yourself with children then shit gets more real.
Firstly children are wonderful and it’s a huge blessing to be entrusted to raise them into people that can stand on their own two feet with your guidance to bring humanity forwards. If I could give up work to raise the kids it is a no-brainer and I’d do it in a heartbeat.
These posts to date seem like I live in some kind of tortured existence that is not true. A lot could be better for sure but in my kids there is something I’ve never had before a sense of duty, responsibility and love that I absolutely thrive from. If I’m separated from my kids it leaves an emptiness (that might not be a good thing all things considered)…
The impact on your life however is profound and when it comes to work it’s impossible to match a care-free graduate. I will always choose to be running around after my family and children over anything else.
At this stage in my career and age I pontificate and reflect over how in my twenties there were plenty chances to climb higher that weren’t taken. Mostly that didn’t appeal due to the travel or other comfort factors, equally it was always the assumption the opportunities would come later and that would be better. Had I taken them then the family would’ve most likely revolved around work and opportunities to advance would have been greater. Hindsight is a wonderful face slapping thing.
So at this point in life I am an Senior IT Consultant (albeit not reflected in the job title) with oodles of experience in a technology that is being wound down for far newer shiny toys (aka Big Data/Cloud). So all the investment made in the career through my twenties now seem a tad dud as in my forties it’s likely it will be defunct. Hey ho that’s technology for you, I remember looking at all the guys who were left behind on mainframes just counting down to retirement and thinking never me.
Re-train dear blogger is what all common sense (and you are probably shouting) you see that’s the rub. The company who employs has no interest in investing in that, therefore it’s self-funding in me all the way. Now in order to self-fund I figure there are two essential resources time and money.
Time is limited in work there is the day job, it has peaks and troughs and I procrastinate a lot on the Internet (Daily Mail, Instagram, BBC News, Twitter to name a few). When I am not procrastinating then there is work to be done naturally and that can consume entire hours, days, weeks or months. Of the 25 days annual leave it’s dedicated to the family holidays, emergencies and more recently school holidays. I also spend a lot of time helping run a community centre which I see as an investment for my children. So time is not aplenty.
Money well that’s a doozy I am not flush with cash, what we have is dedicated to ensuring we like well as a family. I live in my thirties the same as the twenties, except the additional family expenditure. As a family we enjoy splashing disposable income for days out, eating out, holidays and most of all unessential shit like SLR equipment, iPhones, Sonos and other crap that Amazon provides. I’m not reckless though each month a chunk is squirreled away (alongside workplace pension over payments) for the cars, home improvements and retirement. For certain the plan is not to be 55 or 60 with a huge pile of cash and no kids left to enjoy it with. However we should probably have a lot more banked but so should everyone.
Digressing slightly we need a bigger a house and this is where both time and money have defeated me. In my twenties I needed to have saved more (not spent so much on pointless tech, drinking, a wedding and honeymoon) and I didn’t. So at 35 we have equity in our house, could stretch to a larger mortgage with less frivolous spending and astute saving. However we couldn’t afford to keep our current house to put on rent and with another 25 year term it would be 60 before the mortgage is paid, over ten if we stay where we are. Fuck that. Although it’s hugely deflating and depressing not having the family house I dreamed of growing up and now feeling like I’ve failed the kids not having that also.
The Truthful Reality
Listen all of that above is true but there are harsher realities at play also.
The level of procrastination is insane, I spend far too much time looking at screens and being online be it the news or Social Media. I even do it when I’m with the kids and supposedly playing with them. I have a digital addiction that I need to fix.
What’s worse there is spare time during office hours (there can be a lot) yet I’m so burnt out during the day with life as a whole come the days I’m in the office the above addiction takes hold as I hide away, unless there is something really interesting going in work that I can jump all over. This gets worse when I’m at home, I spend a lot of time with the kids, however the sheer number of Netflix shows etc. I can get through whilst “working” is quite frankly shameful. Before the children this was a steadily growing problem that was largely masked by the fact I was insanely busy in previous roles and was positive I was heading somewhere.
Do not get me wrong I work bloody hard and will guy leaps and bounds over the next guy, as performance appraisals show (despite lack of pay rises and progression thereafter). I could be a lot better.
Could it be better?
I cannot blame burnout and need to digitally hide on the kids they deserve every ounce of my energy to fulfill the responsibility to them. Let’s be frank though after weeks of sleeplessness, tantrums and constant need to find activities and things to do… It can take it’s toll unless your shit is together.
I can certainly look the state of mind after sparing with the wife (and long periods of feeling shit not knowing if I am right, wrong or being fair, unfair). Not take on all the house work feeling back if my wife does it or a let down where she does do it (totally not her fault, that’s just my make-up). Have a well balanced social life and not feel guilty for having it and being away from the kids (I had solid friendships that I’ve let all fall by the wayside).
Lastly and this is the most significant stop wanting an awful lot and instead of reaching for it be totally overwhelmed and burnt out thus not reaching it all.
Sure I can’t commit to working insane hours, turn away from overtime on the weekends and didn’t take chances earlier. The realities above however clearly present ways to generally improve life should I get the headspace in the right position.
Can I get there?
Who knows, writing this piece is a harsh reminder of where the cruxes are and the small improvements I could make overall. One thing is for certain being a Dad has placed personal boundaries around me that as a father I do not want to shift.
This leaves me to then really look at what I want to achieve in smaller chunks and get it done, starting with an on-line AWS course. Either that or keep chipping away at this hoping it yields some money somehow 🙂
How do you do it?
I could do all sorts of Jedi Mindfullness and work on the above. Dad’s out there how do you feel about yourselves at this juncture in life. What have you done to escape the funk?