I have been travelling again, like I regularly do.
This time, though, I feel like it cost me.
Yes, it is important to do my work excellently, and I do that. Yes, it is important to honour face to face time with senior managers so that we connect on more than a superficial way about important – and not-so-important – issues. I enjoy the travel, I really do. It’s fun to be in a different country and fun to shop in a different shop, and to watch different people prove and disprove the stereotypes. It’s fun to drive a hire car. And it is especially fun to watch the self-importance of politicians as they strut and pontificate on TV. (I’ll let you in on a secret – they all do it – but the Aussies, they are fanTAStic at it 🙂
But there is a cost, and this time, two things happened back at home. There was an incident at my wife’s business where she was torn between two priorities, and made the best possible call, but there was fallout from the choice she made and she was very hurt and feeling lonely. Feeling criticised and feeling like a failure. And I wasn’t there for her.
And my twin boys, just three, had their first day at Kindy. They did their usual thing, I am told. Tag-teamed, took over the place, and owned it completely. And then when my wife had to leave half way through, one wanted to stay and continue his domination of his new space, and the other wanted to go home for a cuddle. And I wasn’t there for the beautiful intimacy of that.
2572 kms away (Thanks, Google Earth) and a single missed memory, a single opportunity to hug my wife and tell her how awesome she was, and my heart is breaking.
This is good, on so many levels. My wife does not “need” my affirmation or my support. I married a fiercely independent lady with great courage and the right instincts. But we have grown to the place where we treasure each other’s company in tough times. We are together. And although our road is rocky at times, we always treasure.
And although my sons do not “need” me to witness their first day – I would have been at the office anyway – I would have been there at the end of it to inspect the grazed knees and hear the excited stories first hand.
I was – am – the one who needed something in this. I needed to be close to my beautiful family as they experienced something, and to play my part in the drama and the excitement of it all.
I saw something on the internet this morning, catching up on the tennis ATP World Tour Finals. Roger Federer had just beaten Kei Nishikori, and was headed off afterwards. A bit later his next opponent, Andy Murray would be playing. Federer is known for many things, and two of them are his passion for tennis – he watches it on TV just because he loves it – and his passion for winning and for doing what it takes to win.
So the commentator asks “Will you be watching the Andy Murray match?” His response was beautiful enough to bring tears to my eyes as I sat on my hotel bed thinking about my own family and what I was missing. He said “I don’t know. Probably not. I have four kids, and that is when I put them to bed.”
There he is, the greatest tennis player the sport has ever known. Mid tournament, and not just any tournament – the one that could propel him back to a record setting #1 ranking at age 33. Post victory, still sweating and heaving from the exertion. And what is on his mind? His family and the joy of putting them to bed.
Thank Heaven for role models like that.
He is not unique, but he is rare. It’s great to see, and I am so glad that I saw a great man demonstrate great priorities. For his children, and for Mirka his wife, I am sure he is a hero. And not for what he did on the court that night. For what he did back at the hotel, focusing completely on his family, mid-tournament, being Daddy and putting his kids to bed.
All kids need dads like that. All wives need husbands like that.