Each time I watch TV interviews of high flying personalities and the question is asked how they manage to combine their ambitions with keeping a family, I know what the answer is going to be: “I have been blessed with an understanding spouse and children”. There are many variations of that, but the message and its implications are the same. Here is the plain down-to-earth interpretation of that answer:
My spouse and children suffer for my ambition, but they bear it.
We can lie to ourselves about it all we want, but that is exactly what it means. It means that the individual is not being the ideal spouse or parent, hence the need for the family to be understanding. Simple. Oprah Winfrey, who has a killer career, recently opened up on why she decided against having kids. Her response was instructive:
“If I had kids, my kids would hate me, They would have ended up on the equivalent of the Oprah show talking about me; because something [in my life] would have had to suffer and it would’ve probably been them.”
Finally, someone who was honest enough about it upfront and acted right. There are very few people like this. Almost everyone else wants to eat their cake and have it. Unfortunately, real life doesn’t work that way. Something always suffers. If we want glamour, greatness and all that so much, perhaps we should be honest enough to make the sacrifice of not messing up the lives of others while at it. If you want to go high-flying, choose to stay single or find a spouse who doesn’t need you at home much. Choose not to have kids. You be understanding and make the sacrifice upfront.
If you recall my recent article titled, Greatness is costly, I made a similar case along these lines. Many “great” people paid for their greatness with their families. Oprah chose instead to make the sacrifice. In my books, that is a real heroine who should be applauded. If you want to chase a killer dream or career, be bold and selfless enough to pay for it. Making others (your kids and spouse) pay for it is cowardly and selfish.
Every time I watch people mouth off those words about their spouses (and kids) being understanding, I picture kids behind the scenes who are locking up (or into drugs or other deviant behaviour) out of frustration, and spouses who are even more frustrated – and probably already forming emotional and sexual bonds with other people. Yes; that is regardless of how happy or understanding those kids and the spouses may appear to be. They are only human after all. Your family may be understanding, but you must be ready to be understanding when the news breaks.