It’s closing in on 7PM. It’s the Friday of a long weekend on the eve of my 16th anniversary, and I am here at the office hacking through the rainforest of bills, taxes, and miscellaneous paperwork that keeps the wheel we call PACE turning. I’m thinking about my Dad, who in his workaholic haze stayed late at the office every night – I mean EVERY night – until it helped finally destroy his marriage. I swore many years ago that I would never let that happen in my life. I would never be so consumed with success and scratching out a living that I would forego all else to make it happen. Of course, this was when I was working as a musician without any aspirations to entrepreneurial achievement, but still the irony is not lost on me.
Now, I acknowledge that I am not my Dad. In fact, I am so paranoid about that happening that I am constantly checking with Sharon and the kids to ensure that I haven’t crossed the line. That line is so hard to see. I can see how easy it was for my father to be sucked into his business because I fight it every day at 4:30 when I realize the day is over and all I did all day was put out fires. The pile of things that needed my attention hasn’t moved – it’s still there. Mocking me. And it will still be there tomorrow. So I leave the office in frustration and make the long trek home, stewing in my own inability to control a universe that I helped create so I could do something with my life where I would be in control and not have to answer to anyone. Again, the irony is not lost on me.
The struggle to balance family and work isn’t new. Like all parents – or all good parents – I’m relentlessly in love with my kids and want to be with them as much as I can. Except when they drive me out of my freaking mind. Which is a lot. Their familiar ascent (or descent – I haven’t decided which) into puberty and pre-teen angst has already done damage to my blood pressure. Will they drink at 14? Will they inhale – whatever? Did I give them what they need to maneuver through this shit? Do I need to mention the irony thing again.
The point is very simply this: I have never felt for a second that I am alone in any of this. With work. With the kids. With all the other insanity that follows me. Whatever has happened in the better part of the last 20 years, my wife has been beside me in full support, often in spite of what was good for her. And not the kind of support where someone blindly agrees and goes along for the ride. I mean the kind of support that kicks your fat ass when you are immersed in your own drama, or grabs you by the collar and holds you up to the light to remind you that the sun rose anyway, or straightens your tie and stands to the side while you bask in the glory of the success that her support fuelled.
My wife is an incredible woman. Those of you that know her don’t need me to emphasize it for you. She is the litmus test by which all wives should be judged, for the simple fact that she puts up with yours truly on a daily basis. She has shown incredible patience with our kids, and even more with me. Her wisdom and intelligence is shadowed only by her self-effacing charm, wit, and humour. Although she doesn’t acknowledge this, she brings out the very best in everyone she touches, even if she swears that she is a nasty piece of business. She is the heart of this little family, and from the day I met her I swore that in the ongoing chaos that is my life, she is my one true moment of clarity.
So on our anniversary, Sharon, I want you to know that the love I feel for you continues to be inexpressible, but I try to put it into words every day. As the business and our family veer off in directions and at speeds we can’t even fathom, we hop aboard that wild ride again, hoping it will drop us safely down someday. When it does, I’ll be holding your hand as I do today and forever.
Happy Anniversary, Baby.
I Love You.