Choosing between Work and Family

Striking a balance between career and family is never easy. Even superheroes are confronted with the dilemma of choosing between spending time with a loved one or saving the world. Ask Batman or Spiderman. Or even Superman. They would probably tell you (rather, you’d probably read) not only that with great power comes great responsibility, but also that it’s much difficult for ordinary mortals to balance work and family.

When we were about to start our own family we probably said that we would prioritize our families . We’d be the best father/husband we could be. Be all you can be, son, as the Army would say. We probably have this grand vision of spending time with our children, watching every new trick they learn along the way. This vision may have been clearer when we held our first child. Then we remember.

We remember that we also want to be successful in our careers. It may not be anchored solely on being an ambitious person, but most probably because we would want to provide the best there is to our family. We need to work hard. We need to work long hours. We may need to be away. Ask our OFW brothers and sisters.

There are some who say that it’s perfectly possible to balance work and family. It’s possible, I must say, but only to a certain point, way below what is required to excel in either one. Those who are passionate with their work or career naturally spend a great deal of time on that endeavour. Greatness requires so much sacrifice. And family life is often one of the usual sacrificial lambs.

Sure, you’ve heard about spending “quality” time with the ones you love, which is just another way of saying that you have limited time for them. It may happen that one’s family understands the busy work schedule, but being understood doesn’t change the fact that less time is spent with the family. It may also happen that the nature of work allows one to spend more time with the family, time which could have been used to do more in work.

It’s all about time and focus. It’s about balance and priorities, both of which are never easy to set. They say we can’t serve two masters at the same time. Or can we?

My wife has an easy answer: family should always come first. I always say it’s not as simple as that, especially when the word “always” is used. She would say she stopped pitting family against my work because she knows my choice, and she would only be disappointed.

Then I’d secretly bang my head for that. Of course, family always comes first. I wish it’s that simple.

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably searching for the answer. But there’s no easy answer that fits all. If you have one, please let me know.

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