Many years ago, Cathy and I decided we’d like to have children.
It was something we had to think about because we both had good careers.
Cathy was an art director and wasn’t ready to give hers up.
I said: “You shouldn’t have to give it up. You trained at art school for 4 years, you’ve spent 15 years building a career, it’s a shame to waste all that.”
Plus, I remember my mum always regretted giving up work when she got married.
I figured Cathy earned more than a nanny, so we could afford a live-in nanny.
She’d look after them 9 – 5 Monday to Friday, we’d have quality time with them, evenings and weekends, so we could totally concentrate on them then.
And Cathy herself had been brought up by a nanny in Singapore.
Her mum ran the family business while Tse Cheh, who Cathy adored, fussed over the children like a granny and an aunt combined.
Friends of ours frowned on the idea.
They thought children were much better brought up by their mother rather than a nanny.
But we couldn’t do both, so we had to make a choice and that’s what we chose.
As the children got a bit older I decided I wanted to see more of them during the week, so I had to make a choice: leave work earlier or see less of them.
I didn’t want to leave work earlier, I loved my job and I usually got home just in time for News at Ten, so I didn’t like either choice.
But Cathy had a tiny flat she still rented since before she met me.
So twice a week I had the nanny drop them off there, then we left our offices and spent 2 hours at lunchtimes with the children.
And once or twice a month I’d have the nanny drop them off in the creative department, where all the wives and children could come in for a creche at lunchtime.
I know you’re probably thinking, if we all owned agencies and had spare flats we could all afford to do that, but that isn’t the point.
The point is we all have choices, we have stuff we want to do, and we have what’s available.
And we have to choose from those things, we can’t choose from what doesn’t exist.
Recently I posted a quote I loved on Facebook:
“Marriage is hard. Divorce is hard. Choose your hard.
Obesity is hard. Being fit is hard. Choose your hard.
Being in debt is hard. Being financially disciplined is hard. Choose your hard.
Communication is hard. Not communicating is hard. Choose your hard.
Life will never be easy. It will always be hard.
But we can choose our hard. Pick wisely.”
That wasn’t meant as a quote about positive thinking.
It means it will be never be perfect, so sitting around grumbling that it’s unfair won’t help.
You have to choose from what’s available and then take the consequences of your choice.
In fact, even if you don’t choose you still have to take the consequences.
The only thing that gives you any power at all is making the choice.
Otherwise you spend your life as a victim.
Which may get you lots of sympathy, and if that’s what you choose that’s okay, too.
The point for me is it isn’t about right or wrong, it’s about owning your choices.
Instead of wishing things could be different, choose from what’s available.
Wishing things were different just keeps you stuck.
After I’d posted that quote, Paul Burke wrote in a comment:
“Doing good work in a great agency is hard.
Feeling unfulfilled doing poor work in a bad agency is hard.
Choose your hard. (I can feel a blog post coming on)”