So I wrote this article for SBM, figuring more people would see it. Then realized I should’ve just posted it here (with a few word changes). It’s the perfect article for this site; for the people that have been following along for a while, for the people that I know I’m reaching with my words. I have another post coming soon. Stay tuned.
In reading the post I shared on Thursday about Paul Carrick Brunson’s 2012, I was reminded to reflect on my own. There was something different about this year. Something scary.
I realized I had kids.
Two were born in 2008. The next in 2011. The third and fourth in 2012. I tried to be responsible, you know? I wanted to take care of them all at the same (damn) time. But the harder I tried, the more I failed. Especially when one passed away around my birthday in 2011. After that, I found myself neglecting one, then another, and another. Nowadays the majority of my time is dedicated to the remaining oldest. He’s at an important developmental point, and if I’m not active in his life now, there’s no telling what he’ll grow up to be. It’s tough. Really tough. Especially since people notice and call me out on it. “What about the other ones?” they ask. When will I be the father to all my children the way I announced I would be?
I’d love for all of them to be a part of my life, but it’s just not possible. I don’t have the resources to take care of all these kids. Even with a few more hours in my day or a few more dollars in my pocket, it’d be a struggle — a balancing act that I couldn’t confidently maintain. These kids are projects in the most literal sense. Let me tell you about each of them:
In 2008, I started a blog with two friends called Three Ways to Take It. In was our first real foray into the blogosphere. Given my penchant for the pen and the inner workings of the web, the site became my passion. I was convinced we’d go on a world tour speaking about what it meant to be young and Black. And it seemed that way at first. Within a year, we were an award-winning blog with a thriving community. It was a good sign, but it’s hard to go straight to the top when when your counterparts want to go different directions.
I was drawn to the web. They were drawn to their careers. One went on to be a lawyer and just landed the non-practicing job of her dreams. The other is now a blooming creative in the advertising industry.
We put the site to rest in March 2011. They were each great parents to their only children, while I struggled through fatherhood. There’s a reason they’re further on their path. (I know I’m making a crucial mistake here, but it’s worth noting.)
In late 2008, the original and now married SBM put out the bat signal for additional writers. My girl at the time told me about it and I gladly thee SBM up. I started writing for the site on a weekly basis — sometimes twice a week. Over time, I realized we had something with the potential to be epic. My involvement stepped up to the point that in February 2011, I officially took over the show. If you’ve been around for a while, you’ve seen the evolution. If you joined the party recently, know that a lot has changed in the last 22 months.
I’ve learned over time this isn’t a two hour a week hobby. It’s a 20 hour job. There’s a lot of technical stuff that goes into running a site. That doesn’t even factor in the writing. I won’t get into the specifics, but I’ll just say that when the site goes down at midnight or in the middle of the day, it’s a lot like a crying baby. You hear it, but if you ignore it, you’ll just feel like a terrible person.
Whether you see me in the comments or not, a day doesn’t go by that I don’t spend hours thinking about how we can be better or doing something that makes us better. I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but as I’m reflecting, I can’t ignore how much heart and soul I’ve put into this SBM thing. So much so that I know there’s no turning back. Though awful to say, I know that it has the most potential of all my children right now.
2013 has to be the year. It has to. I will not let us fade to black. But, this has also required some tough decisions which I’ll come back to.
The Unspoken Child: Freelance Writing
In October 2011, I started freelance writing about relationships for a known online magazine once a week. I also occasionally guest-posted on other sites. The relationship article freelancing ended in November 2012. The first step to becoming a better father.
In May of 2011, I started a new personal blog. I’d tired of writing for an audience and longed for a place to write my unrestricted thoughts without concern for traffic. TRSJ would be the home base for everything me. Then I decided it’d be a personal development blog sprinkled with career articles. Then I decided I’d start a curated career blog. That’s when the wheels started to fall off. I’d promise to keep myself on a schedule (publicly), then fall off and have to apologize — each time coming back more energized. I never built the momentum I thought I would because I was pulled in too many directions. But even though I knew it, I kept the show going and focused on finding a new way to keep things interesting. In June of 2012, I decided I’d start chronicling my journey to get back on track and become an athlete before my body stopped working.
The Back on Track Journey
I used to be a tracklete in college — the long jump specifically. With 30 approaching, I realized that the window to hit the goals I’d set for myself years before was closing. I embarked on a rigorous workout and diet regimen to get in the best shape of my life. I was posting weekly updates and chronicling my progress. It was awesome to watch my body — physical, mental and emotional — transform over the summer. I was running faster, shedding weight and generally more happy with life. Little did it matter that working out was an additional two hours out of my day. It just felt good to be making progress and knowing that my updates were helping others. And since I had the momentum with one dream, I figured why not pursue another.
I Am *Insert Government Name*
I’ve always been good at helping people find jobs. Helping people has been one of the things that’s brought me the most happiness. When I don’t feel like I’m doing that, I don’t feel like I’m fulfilling my purpose. In August 2012, I decided I’d become a Pathfinder for Professionals. I created a Career Development blog under my real name and started working with clients on resumes and cover letters, and writing career articles for popular online destinations. Little did I know that my transition to career coaching would be the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. Though extremely rewarding, it took up more of my time.
The Back on Track Journey slowly but surely faded. My postings on TRSJ ground to a September halt. Because of the time constraints, my day job — the other unspoken child — became more stressful. Things were great on the career consulting front for a few months. But once again, as SBM started to take up more of my time, I fell off. My writing on another known site has continued, but I’ve been unable to keep up with the inquiries and regular updates on my career site. Imagine money with legs walking up to your door and having to look through the peephole and say “Sorry, I can’t talk to you right now.” Wack.F*cking.Buckets.
It’s important to note I don’t do it for money, but money buys freedom. I value freedom more than anything else.
Father to One
All these projects have been my babies, but I’ve decided that in 2013 I just won’t be able to take care of them all. Though I’ve learned making comparisons to others is the analysis of the devil, it’s been tough watching parents focus on their only children and catapult themselves ahead of me, while I’ve tried to juggle a threesome with no happy ending. 2013 will be the year that I narrow my focus and get it done by focusing on one…point five. The career articles will continue, but I’m gonna see just how far I can go by focusing on growing this site. And if it gets where I’d like it to go, I’ll start paying more attention to one of my other kids.
Fatherhood is tough. I’ve been doing the best that I can, but realized I’m not the best that I can be. It’s time to narrow the focus. Will you be doing the same?