Parenting Blog

It’s Not The Road For Us

Maybe I’m a dreamer. Maybe I’m just batshit crazy.

Whatever I am, I happen to be of the opinion that my wife, my daughters, and myself holding hands, twirling, and wildly screaming along with Frank Turner’s “Photosynthesis” in the kitchen on a school night will carry my girls further in life than anything else ever could. Further than any school lesson. Any Facebook status update. Any politician’s promise. Any skin restoring face cream. Any college degree. Any. Damn. Thing.

Maybe I’m a dreamer to believe, still, at age 37, in the power of a 4-minute rock-n-roll song, in the indelible marking being left on each other’s heart and soul when a dad and his daughters pump their fists into the air and shout at the very top of their lungs:

“no one’s yet explained to me exactly what’s so great about slaving 50 years away on something that you hate, about meekly shuffling down the path of mediocrity. Well if that’s your road then take it but it’s not the road for me”

Maybe I’m the sort of dude who chooses to define and look upon the notion of success differently than most. I dunno, but I reckon it’s possible, and it is absolutely necessary for those words to make optimal sense. Those words are, essentially, what I want to give my children, the basic idea that they do not have to engage in work that does not bring them joy, that really, at the end of the day, they need nothing more than clothes on their back, some food to eat, and a roof over their head.

Last night, the Bear was completing some assignment for school that involved writing about the deliniation between work and play, that the former must be completed before the latter can be enjoyed. I asked her if that made sense to her, if, more specifically, those two concepts have to be mutually exclusive. She wasn’t sure what I meant. I explained that what I do at home, on the laptop, on the floor with them surrounded by toys to write about, never really feels like work to me. I left my near 6-figure job. I left work behind. It is play and fun now, even when I am up against a deadline and stressed about not being able to string coherent sentences together. That’s still playtime for me. Not work. Because I love that struggle. I love what I do even though I make a lot less money doing it. I think being in sweatpants and a t-shirt helps. And being around my kids, that’s huge. We’ve made some sacrifices as a family with significantly fewer dollars coming in, but that’s exactly the choice that must be made. And that’s what Turner is singing about. Make your own damn road and if that means not having everything someone else has, well, fuck it.

Maybe I’m a dreamer, but I refuse to believe that I’m the only one. In fact, I know of at least three more.

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  1. This is really powerful and well said, Jeff, and I absolutely concur.

    I’m not quite at the point myself where I can give up the higher-paying job in favour of something more relaxed (there would be issues paying back student debt while keeping that roof, food, and clothing) but I’ve definitely got that goal in my sights.

    What a great lesson to teach your kids.

  2. Thank you, Sean. Yeah, it takes some planning later in life, to pull it off without putting yourself and loved ones at risk of going without the essentials. I am hoping my kids understand they can make choices all along their own path to set themselves up for such a life later on.

  3. Great stuff. I think there should still be an exception for meaningful and/or challenging jobs that don’t feel like play (and shouldn’t), and that the song and the post mostly relate to the trap of hating life for 8 hours a day.

  4. You are absolutely right, Oren. There is plenty of room for meaningful non-playtime work. The point above all else is to do what you love even if it means sacrificing personal wealth or excessive material possessions.

  5. I totally connect, Jeff. If there’s something I wish I could teach my daughter, it would probably be to “look upon the notion of success differently” than her peers and society. I truly believe that the truths she finds inwardly, rather than outwardly, will set her free. And there’s a lot to be said for good, hard, sweaty work, just as you and Oren allude to. But the worst is to do something just for money. ‘Cause money doesn’t even taste good. It just tastes like paper.

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