Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Dreams Team

By Blake Friis

My favorite piece of business advice is also great relationship advice: don’t make decisions or enter into partnerships for financial reasons. Follow your heart and surround yourself with positive people, and money will work itself out.

In some parts of the world the term “breadwinner” carries with it a certain panache, which I’m sure applies to many in that role.

My wife will be a nurse soon and we will become a two-income household, but for now I am climbing the corporate ladder while my wife stays home with the baby and takes online courses. And by “climbing the corporate ladder” I mean sitting in a florescent cube farm answering email and bouncing from meeting to meeting until the coffee runs out.

In some parts of the world the term “stay at home mom” carries with it the preconceived notion of book clubs and yoga pants, which I’m sure applies to some in that role.

My wife chases a very mobile 9-month-old around the house and attempts to study during the fleeting moments of solitude. Most of her academic responsibilities are fulfilled after I return home. This means her days are twice as long and intense as mine and few recognize the incredible grace with which she accomplishes this largely thankless routine.

Because we have a mortgage and my comparative comfort cruise is rewarded a paycheck, the outside world recognizes me as the family breadwinner. The outside world is not technically wrong, but the title couldn’t be more irrelevant.

Bread is not the working currency in our home. A strength of our marriage is our collaborative process for pursuing our individual dreams.

People who are unattached can invest entirely in their dreams and operate with a singular focus that borders on selfishness. Selfishness is not always a bad thing. In fact, it can be the most efficient path to achieving ones goals.

Parenthood tends to have a sobering effect on people, and not just because they can no longer afford to go to the bar. Being a great parent requires a healthy dose of selflessness and dreams are difficult to rundown without the ability to exercise a little selfishness.

If my wife and I checked our professional dreams at the parenthood door and made career decisions based on money, we’d have unfulfilling jobs and buy crap we don’t need to deal with the day-to-day unhappiness. Instead we made an agreement to support each other in the pursuit of our dreams.

Summer’s desire to go back to school and become a nurse required a commitment that works best with a spouse who has the ability to build their schedule around the demands of the program. I become a situational stay-at-home dad as she sacrifices her nights and weekends. I am an active participant in the process and I feel pride when she succeeds.

When I told Summer I wanted to leave my sales job for a less lucrative opportunity in line with my desire to write for a living, she was completely supportive. She doesn’t love that I am on my laptop as soon as our son is asleep, but she understands. She pitches me so many book ideas you’d think she was my literary agent.

There are things we can’t afford and things we have to do without, but those are just things. We are working towards our goals and doing so without depriving our son of the most valuable resource we have – our time. Whether or not we achieve our dreams is not as important as the example we’ll set for our son by never giving up on them.

Having a family requires sacrifice, but that sacrifice doesn’t require abandoning what you want to be when you grow up.

1 comment: