I’ve seen a lot of angst about being a good father/partner, and running a successful career simultaneously. It’s something I wanted to talk about when I first started blogging at Sydney four years ago, but–heh–I’ve been too busy. Here’s a take I saw elsewhere last week:
Can men be great fathers, professionals, lovers, and enjoy their own space all at the same time? No, something has to give–their children lose out, they don’t advance as well as they would like at work, their relationship breaks down, or they get ill or out of shape. I wouldn’t judge which of work, relationship or parenthood career-men should concentrate on at different stages of their career: that’s up to them.
I read somewhere else the other day that the concept that you can have a perfect career and be a role-model dad is clearly false–not to say ‘revolting’. The only way is to delegate the running of your home life to others–housekeepers and nannies. Any successful man has somebody looking after his children for much of the day, and someone to do his laundry too. But then if there’s a nanny, do you actually spend any quality time with your kids? Of course there’s the weekend, but only if you’ve already made it; post-docs and junior faculty who dare to take weekends off (or even go home at a reasonable time) get looked down upon at work, if not positively discriminated against.
So what to do? Should we lower our expectations? That seems like surrender to me.
Why shouldn’t we have it all? I think there are two things you need, but feel free to suggest more. First, you need a thick skin. Bugger what your workmates say about you; prove them wrong. Second, get help at home. I’m lucky enough to have a partner who helps me with the housework, but we also have a fortnightly cleaner. It makes a big difference.
Try it. Isn’t that what we’re born for?