When I found out I was going to be a dad it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was exciting and nerve-racking all at once. My mind went a million miles a minute. How can we afford this? Are we going to have to move? Is my wife going to have to quit her job? Where will we put our child? I hope he/she turns out healthy.
Of course worrying is a natural tendency, and something every parent-to-be does.
As time progressed I became more confident. “We’re going to nail this baby thing,” I thought. Being a strategist at heart, I, of course, went into planning mode. I did a lot of research and looked at all the data. Then I figured out what “tools” we needed. With a few Google searches, I rocked our baby registry hard.
Then it came to putting together a crib…although I got it together, the tiny screws were a challenge for my bear-sized hands. After a few hours, BOOM, my child had a place to sleep.
Our daughter was due in the fall, so I felt great about getting the crib up a few months early. That’s right, I was ahead of schedule and under budget (thanks to a baby closeout sale). For soon-to-be-dads, nothing quite gives you the feeling of accomplishment like getting your son or daughter’s crib assembled. Or at least that’s what I thought at the time.
The fall is the busy season at DEG. Because of this, there are nights you bring work home, its part of the job and our industry. On this particular evening, I was putting the finishing touches on a client presentation while my wife watched the news. Then she rushed out of the room.
A moment later I heard her yell, “Pat, I think my water just broke.”
“Really, are you sure?” I asked, confused. According to our doctor, only about 10 percent of women experience their water breaking before contractions. So naturally I questioned her.
We called the doctor and got the signal to come into the hospital. I sprang out of my seat in a panic. I hadn’t even packed yet…so much for being strategic.
On our way to the hospital, I called my boss and a close colleague. They told me to not worry and that they would take care of everything. My boss texted me saying, “No problem. Enjoy every second of what is about to happen, it’s the most amazing thing you’ll ever experience in your life. Work is a distant, distant thing right now. Call me if you need anything. Take lots of photos.”
He shortly followed it up by “Oh yeah, don’t forget to check in on Foursquare ” Classic, Geoff.
Fast forward 12 hours and our beautiful little girl, Johanna, was born. Now every day I’m greeted by her sweet smiling little face.
If you ask me work-life balance is kind of a myth. Why? Because no matter what you do, you will always spend more time at work than at home. So it’s inherently a failed idea. You’ll never attain balance, at least from an hour’s perspective.
What matters is that when you are at work, you’re at work, and when you are at home, you’re at home, fully present. The night my daughter was born was the best proof I can give anyone that DEG is a family friendly workplace. I don’t think any of my coworkers minded the extra work so that I could be present. To them, it probably seemed minimal, but to me it meant the world.
I love being a dad for so many reasons, but most of all because it challenges me to be more selfless. Since having my little girl, I have grown in a deeper, more sustaining and self-sacrificing love for both her and my wife. And this attribute has even helped me grow as a colleague in the workplace.
I also love being a dad because I am privileged with the joy of watching someone experience everything for the first time and am blessed with the opportunity to encourage her to be the best version of herself.
Two weeks ago I was riding an airport shuttle on a business trip to New York. As any true Midwesterner does, I struck up a conversation with Joe, the bus driver. A grandfather himself, he summed up all my feelings in one sentence when he said, “Parenthood is not for the timid, but it is certainly worth the trip.”
My hope for you is that the miles you go on the journey of parenthood will be filled with all the feelings that come from deep caring… delight, sadness, joy, wisdom, and love. Happy Father’s Day!
Note: This post was originally published at degdigital.com on June 18, 2015. I was asked to write a blog about work-life balance for my company and how I balance being a new father and a digital strategist.