Thursday, August 7, 2014

Dear 67-Year-Old Me....

Twenty-five years from now, I will be 67-years-old.  

To the now me, '67' just seems like a forgettable number.  Nothing special about it comes to mind as it seems like just another mile marker on the road of life.  It is, however, one that I hope to be around for to actually see; tip my hat towards God for; and then keep driving on forward.  For some, sixty-seven is a very important age as it is the "current" number that our sage governmental leaders have chosen for we - the generous donors - to receive our full social security benefits....and yes, the word "current" is in quotes.  I guess the word "sage" could and should be too.

Honestly, I am not sure if being sixty-seven sounds like a looooong way off or an age that is rapidly approaching just around the corner.  Quite frankly, I am too busy doing the 'now' stuff to think about the 'then' stuff.  You see, I have five kiddos to train up, dreams to instill, band aids to hand out, opposite genders to swat away from the gene pool, and indelible precious memories to make.  Yes, 401k's are prudent and ROTH's are savvy, but smiles and laughs are investments too.

And no, I am not saying you shouldn't invest in your financial future now or to even live without a self-control button, so please don't hear what I am not saying.  One's future is not anything to be so cavalier about.  Still, I believe a massive group 'pause' is in order as we all should stop for a moment and just... breathe.  Breathe in a deep oxygen shot, check our life compass, and make sure our ship is heading in the right direction.  Yes, it is important we all do this from time to time.

But why do this now, you ask?  And, who says you should do this?  Max does.  Blame Max for it.  Max Schireson to be exact.  

If you don't know Max, don't worry.  I didn't know him before this morning and I really can't say I 'know' him even now because of reading his blog post.  But, I definitely can say that I do like Max's style.  

You see Max wrote a post (you can read it here if you would like) about why he was giving up the "best job [he has] ever had" to spend more time with his family.  He is simply tired of missing out on too many of life's precious family events versus being at work all the time.  Rest assured, it wasn't an easy decision for him, but a necessary one nonetheless.  

Max goes on to share how this decision also has the potential to cost his family millions of dollars in future revenue.  Such an impact no doubt would greatly alter the financial future for his family... and likely that of his family's family.  Decisions like these are never easy.  It was a real struggle for Max and his circumstances... just as it is for millions of other working parents.  I suppose tough decisions - those that involve 'legacy talk' - always are.

But for me now, my struggle now is quite different than Max's.  (Well obviously for one difference, I didn't have a multi-million dollar price tag option on the table.)

You see, I have been the full-time stay at home parent for our family for more than thirteen years.  For the number nerds out there, thirteen years on the job translates to about 31% of my life.  In fact, for kicks and giggles, if you were to take the ages of our kids versus my tenure at home, the numbers would be:  eldest (62% of her life), #2 (65%), #3 (100%), #4 (108%), and the youngest (144%).  Whoa dang!

Like Max's choice for the now, mine of the then wasn't that easy either.  But still, I have no regrets.  Having a full-time stay-at-home parent was, is, and will continue to be an essential investment for our family.  My wife and I both work hard to make it this way and I am incredibly thankful for her work to provide this option for us all.  We have made it a top priority to have a parent 'stand guard' through our kids' growing up moments, the doctor appointments, the sick days, the school yard lessons, and the countless amounts of impactful life choices.  Even today, this decision has required many more subsequent - and just as hard - financial decisions and sacrifices to sustain this choice.

Nonetheless, I tip my hat to Max, his wife, and his family at the decision they have made.  Rest assured, the family investment is well worth the sacrifice.  But, as perhaps a little beacon, I also advise him to be mindful of the rough seas ahead.

The hardest part of being a full-time stay at home parent is suspending the usage of your own gifts in order for your kid(s) to learn and use theirs.  Homework takes time and instruction.  Ball teams take time and dedication.  Playdates take time and gas.  Meals take time and money to prepare.  Teaching about who God is takes time and abundant grace.  And, tender heart moments take time and emotional investments.  Time, time, and more time.

Do you see a pattern?  Time, and... time, and....  Everything takes time and something 'else.'  The real problem, however, is not actually the zapping of time, but the fact that the time clock that keeps ticking is actually ticking on two people's clocks... that of the kid's and that of the SAHP's.  You see, the clock doesn't stop ticking on your life when you are investing in theirs.  And sadly, there are only so many pebbles in one's own life hourglass.  

You see, sometimes selfish doubts creep in between the countless to-do items.  If you are a parent - especially a full-time stay-at-home one - perhaps you too have danced with these thoughts?  For me, they often take the voice of my gifts and talents as they say, "Hey Scott, remember us?  When are you going to want to play with us again?"  Yes, these thoughts really happen.  And, yes, the struggle is real.

Thankfully, these thoughts don't stay around too long and seem to pass quickly with the next kiddo smile, "thank you, Papa", or hug.   But still, that selfish struggle is real.

Sometimes I need to remind myself... as well as my future 67-year-old self... that staying at home was never about me in the first place.  

Thanks for the reminder Max.