I put a question mark at the end of that title because it really is a question for me.
I don’t believe in New Years resolutions. I also have a tendency to think the whole “new year” thing is a bit overrated. People always make ridiculous claims about how they are going to change their lives because of the new year. But for most people, they get up the next morning, and continue on like nothing really has changed because, let’s face it. Nothing has changed. All that changed is the last digit of the year you’re living in. It’s not like a government fell, a war broke out, aliens landed, or TV has ended. It’s just another day.
So despite the fact that I usually don’t think much of the new year, today was the first day of me trying to make a change in the new year.
A few days ago, I had a bit of a bummer day. When I finally found the right way to explain how I felt to Tamara, I believe it came out something like “The collective weight of my responsibilities is crushing me”. There are times when the weight of being a dad, a husband, a provider, a teacher, a colleague, and many other things is just too much. We all need to step away and do “our own thing” to try and keep our heads sane but a lot of times it just is too hard. How do you find the time, or even the energy to just do your own thing when you put in a full day of work, come home, then need to make supper, spend time with your kids, clean up the house or do laundry or whatever. By the time the kids are in bed, I’m ready for bed myself. Just beat.
But for me, it doesn’t end there. I just spent the last two weeks on Christmas vacation. I made a list of the things I wanted to accomplish while I was on vacation and barely any of them got done. I did finally get my office cleaned but beyond that, not much else. Why? Because there seems to be a part of me that is riddled with what I can only call parental guilt.
I consider myself an introvert with a few extrovert tendencies. One of the things some introverts (maybe all of them, I’m not an expert on the term) need is time alone. Not because they don’t like people but just because sometimes they just need their own time to do their own thing because that’s what and how they are. I love having people around and love having people in my life. But there are times when I just need to be off doing my own thing to keep my own head sane.
As I am sure many others can attest to, this is hard to do with all of the responsibilities of daily life as a father and a husband. In my world, a lot of this solo time is covered by the travel I have with my work. But even when I am home, there are times I need to just do my own thing in my home space. This is where the parental guilt starts to settle in a bit.
There are many times where Tamara and the kids are going out, and the last thing I want to do is go anywhere. I just want time to myself to do my own thing and not think about anyone else. But the moment they leave, I go into a deep feeling of regret and end up miserable while they are gone. I constantly think that I am being a bad father by choosing to be home by myself than spending it with my wife and kids when I have the opportunity to. This is further intensified during times when I have been traveling a lot and have already missed time with them. I get deep feelings of guilt about “being a bad father” by not taking every moment I have at home with my kids in some way.
But yet, I can go out for a day on my own with some friends and be guilt free. I can take a vacation or go on a work trip and not feel guilty. But if I am at home and choose to be at home alone versus with my family, I feel immense guilt. It is this guilt I am trying to challenge myself against today.
Tamara took the kids out for day and I’m home writing this. I am taking my steps in 2016 towards not feeling guilty about giving myself time when I need it. We all need it from time to time.
I also feel like 2016 needs to be a year for me to really think hard about where I want to go in terms of my life. I spent a lot of 2015 bitching about my work, and other aspects of my life and I need to find a way to reign that in and enjoy what I have.
So as much as I hate it when people talk about making changes for the new year, I guess this time around I’m going to do the same as them. Let’s see what 2016 brings.