My Dad was in the Air Force for the full twenty. He ended up as a Major, which is a very respectable rank. But I remember my Mother telling me that Dad might have made Colonel had he spent more time at work and traveling. Instead he was a family man and asked for the assignments that let him be around us more instead of the ones that would have taken him farther up the ladder. My Dad never made Colonel, I guess, cause he was a Dad first.
I have internalized my Dad’s example into how I balance my career and my family. And 95% of the time I have no qualms about that choice. But this time of year — raise time, performance review time, end of the fiscal year time — it’s kind of hard. It’s hard to see others get awards and promotions that you might achieve if only you were willing to put in 50-60 hour weeks and maintain that fierce, career minded focus. It’s kind of demeaning to have to explain that your department-high total of personal time was spent caring for sick kids and that you were not off galavanting gaily around the city charging the hours to the “personal time” bucket. It’s frustrating to have to work unpaid overtime in hopes that your personal time balance might be forgiven in the future. Most unpaid overtime is worked in hopes of reaping some sort of a future career bonus, mine is worked in hopes of staying off the layoff cutting block.
So that’s why I’ll never make Colonel. It’s a sacrifice of my choosing. I’ll never be a captain of industry. I passed on my opportunity to be a young turk, a bright young mind, or an up-and-coming anything, and most of the time that’s okay with me.
It’s just that performance review time is for me is what I imagine Holidays are for the career-focused, single, childless young hawks out there. For me, it’s a time tinged with melancholy. A time to face the sacrifices manifest in any Life commitment you choose to live.