“Being a family means you are a part of something very wonderful. It means you will love and be loved for the rest of your life.” — Lisa Weed
I was always ambitious in my professional career. While I was doing my current job, I was also looking at the future and where I wanted to be next. I knew I could be a successful executive given the opportunity to do so.
But one thing I would not sacrifice in order to get to where I wanted to be professionally was the time spent with my family.
Sharon and I both had jobs / careers at Binney and Smith (Now Crayola Corporation). When she became pregnant it was both a wonderful and scary time for us. While together we earned a pretty good income, there was a distinct possibility Sharon would stay home once our first born, Christopher, was born. That action would certainly affect our financial position.
When she asked my opinion, what should she do, I told her it was really her decision. I had my opinion, but I wanted the decision to be hers so there would be no undue influence and future regrets because her decision was influenced by me.
When she decided to stay home, which was my thought, I was extremely happy. But one third of our income went home with her. I now had to make that up somehow while also balancing that it wasn’t just her and me anymore, but Chris to also be concerned about.
While I advanced in my career, I worked hard to make sure that both she and our son were not neglected.
I went in early to work when they both were still sleeping and got home at a fairly regular time. She was usually next door with our neighbors Jimmy and Julie who had no children or grandchildren of their own, but who were surrogate grandparents to Chris.
As time progressed, we added two more to the fold, Scott and Lauren. We were now outnumbered and when I got home I was usually greeted with, “They are yours”. My children were to say the least, active. Others may say trying at times. But it was the greatest time of the day to be with my wife and our three beautiful children
Work became more intense. I was traveling quite a bit, almost every other week. Around October of that year I was getting ready for another trip. The kids saw this and started crying. “Daddy. Your’e not going away again, are you?”
That broke my heart. When I got back I told the two vice presidents who I reported to that I would not be taking another trip that year. And at the end of the year I worked to get my job split so the travel and work demands were reduced some.
As the children grew, they got into all sorts of activities.
We attended dance recitals, band concerts and a variety of sports. In grade school, many of these things take place during the work day. I made sure to not miss a one of them, but it was difficult as I was now a director and had meeting upon meeting to attend. But I managed.
Then, I left Crayola and went into consulting. While that brought new challenges, it also allowed me to adjust my schedule around the family and our activities. I also became a basketball and baseball coach so now I didn’t just attend events, I was a part of them.
Being active, the three kept us hopping. But as always I was able to balance my work around what was most important to me, my family.
“The most important thing in the world is family and love.” –John Wooden
My children are now all grown.
Two of them were in the army and were deployed to foreign countries. I worried about them constantly as they were not in the nicest of places (Iraq, Afghanistan and South Korea on the DMZ). I guess once a parent always a parent.
The greatest thing is that they all remember their time growing up and the time spent by my wife and I being involved in their lives and helping to guide them to adulthood.
Now, as adults, we have a different relationship. We are now advisors, not managers of them. They make their own decisions, But they still ask for some guidance on important matters and we discuss how things are going and are there to listen and help when and if needed.
Enter the grandchildren.
With grandchildren, family takes on a whole new meaning. Your role in helping to raise children from infants to adulthood is completely different than raising them as you did with your children. While you provide some nurturing, you are not in control. Their parents, the children you raised, are.
Your role is to provide love, some guidance, certain nurturing and lots of support.
None of these are to contradict what the parents are providing, but are a supplement to those things. You are just joyful at the continuation of the family and the lineage of which you are a part.
Becoming a grandparent now three times is such a blessing. It reinforces the love, care and concern that you have for your family. Those precious children you brought into this world and raised are now involved in the same thing you were. You are so proud of them and the responsibility they have taken on. It is probably the greatest thing that can happen in your life.
And having grandchildren reinforces what family is all about. It brings together the feeling you had when you had and raised your own children and as you see them raising theirs. The family is now extended and grows into a next generation. And you are now a part of that in a different way.
‘Family isn’t always about blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs. The ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile, and who love you no matter what.’
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Peter H. Christian was a founding partner and president of espi, a business consulting firm in Northeastern PA. Previously he was an Executive at Crayola Corporation. He has worked with 300+ clients in business development, profit improvement, operations, IS selection and implementation, and Project Management. He has 40+ years of experience in strategic and facility planning, CI, lean, and supply chain. He has helped companies to realize millions of dollars in cost reductions and profit improvements adding and retaining thousands of jobs. He has authored the Amazon bestselling business books, “What About the Vermin Problem?” and “Influences and Influencers” and is published in a variety of professional magazines.