In my profession, part of my job means actually doing my job.
And part of my job also means lining up the next job.
With book collaborations, I’ve done enough by now that my canon of material usually speaks for itself. But every so often, particularly the more famous an author is who’s seeking a collaborative writer, I still need to “audition” for the part. They check me out to see if they want to work with me. It’s how this business is done.
So when my agent phoned about a possible collaboration with a number one draft pick, multi-Super-Bowl-winning, hall-of-famer, ultra-famous, ex-Dallas Cowboys quarterback who wanted to write his memoir, and the absolute only possible date and time this author and his team of agents were able to meet for a conference call was April 30, 2008, at 2:30 p.m., I said yes.
My one and only beloved son, Zachary Justus Brotherton, was scheduled to make his grand entrance via induced labor on April 28, 2008, and my wife and I were set to spend two nights in the hospital.
That meant we’d be bringing home our newborn at the exact same time as the conference call.
What takes priority? Work or home?
Ever been there?
I made a good case in my mind for the conference call. It was important. Mighty important. Being responsible meant I needed to bring home the bacon, and being present and mentally sharp for this conference call was an integral part of that process.
But I also made a good case for being fully there for my wife and son. A whopping good case. Good grief, this was a once-in-a-lifetime event.
What did I choose?
Yep. I figured I could squeeze `em in together.
Now, say it with me men, loud and clear: newborns—and mothers who’ve just given birth, (despite their overall high level of support for their husband’s work)—just can’t be rushed.
Just. Can’t. Be. Rushed.
So there I was on April 30, glancing at my watch every five minutes like an idiot, helping my wife into a wheelchair, strapping my son into his car seat, snapping pictures, tapping my foot.
I drove my wife home, tucked her into bed, and then she needed me to go pick up a prescription for pain medication. Right now, please.
The clock was ticking. The time for the call was moments away.
That’s when I nearly lost it. I hadn’t slept in two days. None of us had. And I needed to be in my office, on a landline with notes on my computer in front of me, and I NEEDED to take this call. Now!
My wife was in pain.
See the problem?
I drove to the pharmacy. I picked up her prescription. I sat in the parking lot with my cell phone. I took the call there. And then I raced home.
Not my best audition. Or my best moment as a husband.
No, I didn’t get the job.
Here’s wisdom. The Reverend Billy Graham, when asked in his old age if there was anything he would have done differently throughout the very significant life he’s led, said he regretted not spending more time with his family. You don’t need to accept every invitation that comes your way, Dr. Graham said, or be absent from home so much.
Today, I hope I’m wiser than three years ago.
When it comes to having an important conference call on the same day my newborn son comes home from the hospital,
I should have let that project go.
Question: how have you found a balance between work and home?