You hear the story often, you know the one, the electricians house that is never wired properly; the plumbers house with a dripping toilet; the architect’s house with the unfinished construction. Yes, it happened to me.
I’ve been an expedition leader for nearly 20 years. It’s been a good cross-section of working for other people, owning my own business and being the head of outdoor education at a Melbourne private school. I became somewhat of a specialist in helping people relate to each other and themselves in a natural environment (by sheer weight of numbers mainly children). It’s what I do, it’s what I love. So many deep connections I witnessed over that period that I threw myself into the role of creating relationship bonds between parents and children using the outdoors. It was just so powerful and so much can be achieved in just a short period of time by just stripping away all the distractions and concentrating on relationships.
But the great irony was I was spending 26 weeks a year working on everyone else’s family completely at the detriment of my own. My kids were growing up and I was missing over half of it.
I remember the moment exactly. It was in October 2010. It was our busiest year at the school in outdoor education by far. We had gone mad with new programs and extended the reach further into the junior school and added high end programs to year 11. Terms one and three were simply crazy and term two was only slightly less so I had accrued a bit of time in lieu to add to the September – October holidays. I knew I can be tired at the end of term three so I booked a family holiday for us all to get away for five weeks. I was only at home to 4 nights during term three and most of that time was spent asleep trying to catch up.
So holidays came around and we instantly packed the car and camper trailer and took off for South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula. My daughter was six years old and my son was two. We were all reasonably weary when we first started driving so neither of the children said much. And then it happened. Whilst far from sentences my son started to speak using complete words. And then my daughter read from a book with well structured sentences. Both of these critical learnings had happened in my absence.
It hit me like a brick! When did this happen? How is it possible that my son started using words and my daughter started reading so fluently in structured sentences and I didn’t see any of that process growing? How did it come about that I have spent so much of my time investing in other people’s children and miss both of my children’s critical milestones of language?
All things take time, but the journey away from being a full-time expedition leader began that moment. Fast forward four years and as a result of a number of factors I am now the equal caregiver for our children with my wife. The journey hasn’t been a straight line or easy one and some outside factors have influenced how that looks at the moment but if there’s one thing that I am grateful for beyond measure it is that I now spend more than half my week with my kids, catching up on lost time and try my best not to feel guilty about the time that I have missed.
So my question is; who are you really living your life for? It’s easy to say it’s for the family, it’s harder to actually do it for the family.
This was a guest post from Scott Brown – The Outdoors Guy