You know that someone actually said to me yesterday that "work comes before family" (specifically in regards to Jamie's responsibilities)? Have you ever heard anything more ridiculous? Frankly, it's tragic that anyone would feel that way, live their life that way, and raise their children that way.
Jamie works a lot. Too much, as far as both of us are concerned, but that is the nature of what he does, and he enjoys what he does. So he does it. His company is very family-friendly (more so than most), and he works with a lot of other moms and dads who cut him some slack when he comes in groggy and distracted. They are all doing their best to juggle work and family.
It's crazy to me that someone might actually believe that Jamie's primary role in our family unit is that of The Provider who puts pork on the table and is our meal-ticket. Its not 1957. He gets up in the middle of the night to feed Hazel, he changes diapers like a pro. He nurtures her and snuggles her back to sleep, and if he could be a stay-at-home-dad, he would be thrilled. (If I could go back to work and not spend my days doing a mind-numbing amount of laundry and dishes, I would be thrilled.) Jamie and I are partners, co-parents, and parenting Hazel is our number one job. Our family (and by "family", I mean the three of us) comes before anything else. Our family comes before any stupid job, before any desire for a bigger house or shinier car. Hazel's well-being is what we both have in the front of our mind at all times, and going to work or doing more laundry is just the crap we deal with day-to-day, in between doing what is truly best for her. Our culture really has it backwards; the race for Things and Stuff and Bigger and Better has come at the expense of what's really valuable. And people like the Unsolicited Advice Giver from yesterday and their families suffer. So while that person might have a bland and cordially affectionate relationship with his family, and he might be mighty pleased with all the papers he pushed around in his lifetime, and all the mortgage payments he made, Jamie and I choose to live our lives differently.
Almost all of my peers would happily take a 25% cut in pay if it meant they could spend more time with their kiddos. We are really lucky to have what we have, but we don't need most of it. What Hazel needs isn't a vacation home, or a ride in a $30K+ car. She needs two parents who love and respect her, love and respect each other, and show it as often as possible. Fathers need to be with their children, not fortressed away in an office, coming home after bedtime, stressed out all weekend, and focused entirely on the finances. Money and jobs come and go, but you have one opportunity to raise a happy, healthy kiddo. I think Jamie and I would both agree that we would sell everything we own to ensure Hazel's health and happiness.
I choose to put my family before anything and everything in this world, and on my death bed, I won't be thinking about all those wonderful days that I worked late. I hope that when that time comes, I'll have Hazel nestled in the crook of my arm, just as she is now. That's the only wish I'll ever have.