What is balance?

February 28,2008
Skaddadle
Todd Lieman( )

G forwarded me an email from Bravo! TV yesterday. Bravo! is apparently looking for dads (of all types) for a new reality series. The email reads: Do you live a good life? Are you the "ultimate dad" and /or husband? Do you still make time for the guys? New documentary/reality series will feature a group of friends as they deal with balancing work, family and fatherhood!
Needless to say, my immediate reaction was “Pick me! Pick me!” But, upon further review, I’m not really sure I qualify. Let me pick apart these questions one by one:
Do you live a good life: Yes, I do think that I live a good life. But, what does that mean? Is that question based on finances? Is it about the toys in the closet? Do I get disqualified for having questions about mortgage payments with my wife each month? Are you the “ultimate dad” and/or husband: Honestly, probably not. I’m pretty sure the frustration I feel when K-Man asks the same questions over and over or doesn’t listen to me would disqualify me from be the “ultimate” anything. K-Man never sees me worked up, but internally, every now and again – I’m seething. Do you still make time for the guys: Not so much. And, how is that possible, anyway? My day is: get up at 5:30 to walk the dog. Get K-Man ready for school (which may or may not include making his breakfast). Take K-Man to school. Work all day. Pick K-Man up from school. Wait for G to get home from work. Help put K to sleep (around 9:00). Go to sleep (9:30, hopefully). Rinse and repeat. “Time for the guys” is a tough one to work into reality. So, this show is going to feature a group of friends who deal with the balance of life, work and fatherhood. And, there’s the rub. Life. Work. Fatherhood. There’s more to “it all” than that. Maybe the “life” bucket is all encompassing. If it includes things like “taking time for yourself,” “working on (enter hobby here),” “play golf” and/or any number of other things…okay then. The whole concept of balance is so foreign to me and, I think, most parents. Balance has this connotation of the scales being equal, or in fitness terms, someone on one of those boards, perfectly still…weight distributed evenly. That’s SO not life as a parent. Instead, in the world of parenting, I think “balance” just means doing your best not to completely fall down. There is no equal distribution of weight. Every day features constant and dramatic adjustments, as we put on and take off our various hats. (Which, by the way, are further complicated by things like CrackBerrys.) At work, I’m “work guy,” – unless, of course, the babysitter calls with some kind of problem. Then, I have to become dad. At home, I’m dad, - unless, of course, some urgent email comes in. Then, I have to go back to being “work guy.” Then, there are all the times that I really want to be “writer guy,” but I’m cooked by the time those hours roll around. No equal distribution of weight. Just twists, turns, shifts (and the occasional prayer) to get us through the day. Sure, it’s all worth it. I’m not necessarily complaining. I’m just wondering if “balance” can ever exist in the day-to-day life of moms and dads. The folks at Bravo! will find their guys. I have an idea on what these guys will look like and act like. And, my hunch is that some of what they go through is what most dads go through. But, it’s all for TV. Even the guys that Bravo! deems are the most balanced…I don’t buy it.

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