This category of goal-setting is both the most important and the most difficult. Relationships are inherently not “goal-oriented”, they’re organic, they’re situational, they’re chaotic on a good day. You don’t sit down and plan what your most intimate relationships are going to look like or how they are going to progress. Nor are you going to measure progress against some arbitrary yardstick. Not the least because it isn’t all about “me”…
On the eight-dimensional wheel, Relationships is green energy for me. It probably is for most people, I suppose, although I could see people treating some relationships as “yellow” for their inherently social nature. Picking up on earlier planning that I have done, I’m consolidating a few other headings under relationships — relationships (of course), plus family (including extended family) and personal balance.
Relationships in this larger form are probably the category that I have devoted the most time to in recent years. I got married in 2008, we had a baby in 2009, and the roller coaster has continued for 2010. These are new roles for me, and I can’t say that I’ve taken to them like a duck to water. I find it extremely hard to balance my different roles — father, husband, worker, individual.
As a father, I need to learn to be more patient than I am naturally and to not get stressed about Jacob’s ongoing health concerns. Only 2% of Jacob is defined by his health issues; 98% of Jacob is just a charming little boy. But with all the time it takes for appointments, preparations, adjustments, etc., it’s hard not to see that 2% as a larger component than it is. But in the end, Jacob is Jacob, not a series of “symptoms” to be treated. Yet I am not pulling my weight, so to speak, in looking after him. Andrea still does more than her share usually, although I’m improving somewhat as he gets more interactive. I need to work on that more, particularly as Andrea needs more free time to work on school work.
This is not only the newest role for me but also the one that is the most meaningful to me since he is so dependent upon us. When I was single, if you asked me if I wanted kids, I would have said, “perhaps, if I’m with the right person and they want them too, but it’s not a dealbreaker for me.” But that wasn’t entirely accurate — I said it that way because as a single male, I knew I wasn’t going to have them on my own (physically and emotionally), and I knew I would struggle if I became a single parent. So to admit that I wanted kids would have been to admit that I needed to find someone and get married. But I didn’t want to admit that to my own psyche when I was single, so for years I just said “perhaps”. Yet before I met Andrea, I realized that I really did want kids. It wasn’t a dealbreaker for me, but it was a strong desire. And now we have Jacob in our lives, a really cool little person who we are getting to know as he figures out who he is.
As a husband, I worry that 90% of all conversations with my wife tend to be about Jacob. In the early days, it was all about the process — who was feeding him when, who was doing diapers, etc. Now, we have lots of questions about the future, such as financial planning, medical appointments, tests, holiday planning. But they are still a lot of the time about Jacob. We rarely get time to just talk, even about silly things. So, “progress” in this area will require a more concerted effort to give us that time to ourselves, even if it means paying a lot more money to babysitters in the short-term to free up some time.
As a worker, things have been challenging for the last year. With so many appointments for Jacob, plus the added workloads of two large projects for a while, it felt like I was drowning sometimes, barely keeping up with the work. With one project wound down already, and another coming to a close, plus a new staff member on-board, the level of work is returning to much more manageable levels. Andrea and I have also found ways to balance out some of the extra-curricular demands a bit too, forcing ourselves to accept that we can’t both go to every appointment.
As an individual, I’m not sure what to say. This area seems most days to be non-existent. Once I am through with the first three roles, there doesn’t seem to be much energy or time left to be “just me”. Certainly very little “productive” time…Jacob usually crashes about 8:00 at night, which gives me a few hours before bedtime myself, but often I am too dead to do much more than veg out. But I need to be more disciplined in this area, because it is also a source of energy to balance out some of the other areas. I know I need to do it, just hard to motivate myself. Oddly enough, finishing my website and writing my goals has in and of themselves helped to motivate me somewhat.
I am not without some past success in this category, even if I see lots of ways to improve. I stayed pretty involved for the pregnancy, or at least as much as a father gets to do, I guess. I helped ensure Andrea was able to take off 15 months for her parental leave, and she’s started back to school this term. We managed to take a trip together (all three of us!) to Vancouver and Jacob proved to be a good little traveller. Oh, and to start it all off, we got married, had a honeymoon, etc. Plus, on the broader family side, I did some outreach with my mom and some of my nieces and nephews. And generally became less of a squirrel worrying about relationships. But where to go from here?
As I said, I want to work more on the balance between being a father, husband, worker and individual. This includes supporting Andrea as much as possible as she completes her Masters over the next few years. We also need to decide if we are going to have another child…I’m not getting any younger, as they say, but I’m nervous about the extra stress and workload when I already struggle with just one underfoot. There’s no question the benefits outweigh everything else, but I’m also conscious of ensuring good mental health for me. I want to ensure too that I find time for Andrea to go to movies or out for dinner more often. Hopefully with ME, but she needs fun time for just her too. And, on the “other” family front, there’s a rumour that I have a brother that lives here in town, but I almost never see him. Something should be done about that.
It’s kind of funny that there is very little to put on a “bucket list” in this category, going back to what I said about the category not being “goal-oriented”, yet I have three things that are already completed (getting married for love, having a child, and romance on a beach), leaving just learning more about genealogy.
So, hello 2011, bring it on!