Plenty to think about

Karina with J.P. and Paige

The balance between work and fatherhood has always been difficult.

J.P. is a growing boy — a teenager now — and it’s taking more hands to do the most basic things.

As I’ve published in previous posts, we’re getting help through nursing and a new ceiling lift system, but we’re limited to certain times with nursing, and the shifts aren’t always filled.

The lift can get J.P. from bed to couch, but that doesn’t help with baths and diaper changes.

In addition to work and fatherhood, I’m still chairman of the Family Advisory Council at Florida Hospital for Children, and I’m training for the Disney Marathon in January.

There have been some unusual additions to the calendar late this month that simply brought things to a boiling point and prompted a discussion about priorities.

Let me say, unequivocally, that there is nothing more important than my family. I’m a Christian, and I believe that next to my relationship with God, my wife is the most important person in my life. My relationship with her is followed by my relationship with J.P.

To be brutally honest, I feel like I frequently put Paige and J.P. above my relationship with God — not purposely — but it just seems to happen that way.

The struggle comes with things like work and personal time. I accepted a promotion at Hearst Television that has put me in a managerial role, which means I have additional responsibilities and last-minute schedule changes.

My paycheck is the only one the family gets — and that also provides the insurance for the family — so I really do need to do a good job and concentrate on my career.

Several years ago, I was given the opportunity to join the Family Advisory Council for Florida Hospital for Children. The council assists the hospital in its journey to provide family-centered care. We examine policies and sit on hospital committees so the hospital staff can see things from the perspective of the patient and their parents.

As chairman, I spend more time with the staff, working to grow the relationship between the hospital and the council. It provides me with the chance to give back for the excellent care we receive during J.P.’s hospital stays.

I believe we all have strengths and weaknesses: My wife is a caregiver. She reads J.P. books, plays with him and coordinates his schedule. I bring home the paycheck, pay the bills, help with housework and help to make the outside world a more accommodating place for J.P. and the kids like him.

When I’m home, I do my best to spend time with J.P., but it’s not my top priority to sit down and read a book to him. However, I usually do his baths, brush his teeth and keep his nails trimmed. Before his bedtime, I also like to snuggle with him in the recliner. It seems like our time.

But is it enough?

Running has become my time to unwind and de-stress. It was the only way I could find to get exercise to stay healthy. I never know when I’m going to be able to do it, so all I have to do is lace up the sneakers, stretch and head out the door. I’ve lost a lot of weight and brought down my blood pressure.

So what is the priority? Some say I’m very black and white and need to see the gray in the world. But fatherhood and my marriage aren’t things I take lightly.

I also wonder what J.P. would say if he could communicate like a typical child. Have I disappointed him? Does he understand the importance of the things I do? Does it matter?

Will I regret my choices later in life?

They’re all questions to which I’m trying to find the answers — and the balance — before it’s too late.

2 Comments on “Plenty to think about

  1. When you figure it all out, please let me know! I struggle with these things as well.
    Your Sis

  2. Of I could read JPs mind, not saying I can, but I think the very last words that he would ever think of uttering would be Daddy you failed me. Every morning, every afternoon, every “free” time you get you spend interacting with him. You are only one man, JP may think you wear a cape that gives you super powers but in the end you are only one man. And every man (and woman) comes to a point in his life where he lays his burdens before the Lord and says help. That does not make you weak by any stretch of the imagination, it makes you incredibly strong!! Everybody needs “me” time, if running is your passion than run (eat a little more while you’re at it 😉). Do what makes YOU feel whole, because in the end your children feed off of you and your mood!! Jeff you are one of the most amazing father’s I have had the opportunity to meet, the world would be a much better place if we had many more of you!! God bless you and your family!!

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