Monday, April 7, 2014
My co-bloggers Haskell Murray and Anne Tucker recently posted their views on FOMO (“fear of missing out”) and family. See here and here. As an old guy, I didn’t know what FOMO meant until Haskell defined it, but I think the issues Haskell and Anne raise about balancing work and personal time are important.
My youngest child is almost 24 years old, so it’s been a while since I had to face the conflict between my professional life and raising a family. But it was a tough struggle. I decided to leave my job as a corporate litigator and enter legal education after I missed two consecutive Easters with my children due to hostile takeover cases. I loved the work, but I loved the time with my family more.
When I began teaching, I had three young children (4 months to 4 years old), and a fourth child was born three years later. I decided to pack as much work as I could into an 8:00-5:00 workday, and spend as much of the the rest of my time as I could with my kids.
It wasn’t always easy. I sometimes had to remind myself that my job was just a job and my children were my life.
Did I miss out on some professional opportunities? Absolutely. Would my scholarship and teaching have been better if I had devoted 70 hours a week to them? Probably.
But, in the final analysis, the most important thing is whether you can look your children in the eyes and say, “I tried to do my best for you.” Career is secondary. As I look back, it’s not the brilliant articles or the insightful analyses I remember. It’s the precious moments with my family. I wouldn’t trade any of those moments for professional acclaim.
As an aside, I think Haskell and Anne have their priorities clear, or they wouldn't be think about these issues at all. In my experience, the people who get it wrong often don't even realize they're making a tradeoff.