Remote work being a set-back is possibly a side-effect of how I selected my new gig, but it has suited me so well, I don't care about the (temporary) career stagnation.
Beautiful story, I felt it hard.
After working from home (and watch my kids grow) I had an opportunity to work to help finishing a big project that would make money.
It was just 3-4 month of hard work (including almost every week ends and some nights) and then back to normal hours when the project would be on track.
Well, as often, months turned to a year, then a year and a half, and no real end of the "hard" part in sight.
My son started ignoring me, my daughter waked up early to have a glimpse of me before I go.
I finaly ended it (mostly when the word Divorce was pronounced out loud) and fight to be a member of my family again. And work from home.
For now, this period was the biggest mistake of my near-half-a-century life, and until the kids can take themselves in charge, I won't move from home again.
She's now 5 and her brother is 7. They grow out of febrile seizures and luckily she hasn't had one now for about 2 years. Overall she had about half a dozen.
Besides that, the reason I also it is because if one day, my child is a drug addict, asshole, school shooter, or any other "failure" of sorts. If someone asks me if I did everything I could to prevent it. My answer will be yes, I gave it my all.
It seems in the US when people say I want to provide for my children, they mean money. But more money doesn't really help your kids, it helps you. What kids really need is people to provide time.
Sorry for the gallows humor...not sorry.
I get to be far more involved in my kids day-to-day, I know their teachers, friends, and generally what's happening in their lives.
I think of the alternative (what I grew up with, and what a lot of my friends with kids are still doing) and it's sad.
Barring the awful circumstances of the article (my heart goes out to the author) spending time with our children shouldn't be a chore to fit in.
Hug them, tell them how much they mean to you, that's important. Being present in their lives though, for the brief period that life affords us, that is essential.
This post was both heartbreaking, heartwarming, and very emotional to read. Thank you to the author for sharing your story.
One of the unfortunate challenges of tech work is that as someone young and single you can spend all your time at work with your colleagues building really cool stuff and get the social fix and the financial rewards of lots of hard work. And if you get married and have kids, and suddenly the demands of the family keeps you from putting in the same amount of time at work, well you find yourself either explaining to your boss why you aren't getting as much done, or explaining to your spouse why you don't seem them as much as they would like. Can be tricky to navigate to a new normal.
This one: https://m.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/NTSB-Engine-failure-in-...
It has had a profound impact on how I think about everything, but especially the time I spend with our now 1 year old.
I'd recomend everyone read it, and internalize that you only get 52 weekends in a year. You also only get a handful of each holiday with your kids. His words are better than mine, and I encourage everyone to take the 2 minutes needed to read the essay, then implement a life strategy that gets you home with your family more.
And yet if you had a handful of 8 loaves of bread, it would be a lot of bread, if you had 8 luxurious chocolate truffles it would be more than you want to eat in one go. If you had 8 shelves of books the quantity would still "seem limited". If you stepped outside and there were 8 cars on your driveway, that would be a lot of cars and a long driveway, if none of them started and you had to walk 8 miles to the train station, that would be a long walk, if you went to the dentist and needed 8 fillings that would be a lot of fillings, and if there was a creature as tall as 8 humans, that would be a long horse.
Just choosing that the units of measure are peanuts and books, is not enough to establish that 8 is a small quantity, objectively and unquestionably. Everything is relative, everything is viewed in comparison to something different. Peanuts compared to how filling they are, books compared to .. how much choice you feel you deserve, outside of reading time. 8 books is quite a lot of reading time.
If you decide that 8 Christmasses is a paucity of Christmas, where did that decision come from? Why is it not enough, and how many would be enough? (and is the answer an eternal "just one more"?) If you have $8 but you want to spend $10 then $8 is not much money. If you have $8 but you want things which are ten a penny, $8 is a lot of things.
If we can't control how much we have, but we can choose what we want, why do we so often choose to want more than we have, then feel annoyed at the disinterested universe for being so mean to us?
I make probably $20K less than my peers. (I make $82K a year as a fourth year C# software dev. I've got a law degree and am willing to travel around the country a few weeks a year for stakeholder meetings.)
I'm home every day by 3:15. I take my son to the library, to the park, to the forest, to OMSI, on weekdays. Some days he and I just sit on the couch reading and talking about superheroes for two hours until dinner.
Do I feel envious of my peers who make more? Yes. A lot. The urge to keep up with the Joneses is strong. Do I second guess my decision? Never. My job is relaxed, I come home and party with my son and wife with energy. I cried reading this story, but it only affirms my decision.
It might seem OK when you're single, childless, etc. but once that time starts coming from your family you will realize what a prison you've built yourself.
STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW.
The treadmill of re-inventing the technology wheel also looks like a prison.
I guarantee you that a talented kernel hacker, with a few weeks of reading the docs and writing some toy examples, would be just as productive in React as the front-end developer with years of experience.
I work in a pretty niche industry, where hiring people with specific experience in the tech stack is rare or impossible. So, I see this up-close and personal all the time. Fluid intelligence, an understanding of computer science fundamentals, and a demonstrated history of delivering results trumps specialized experience with the specific technology. Every. Single. Time.
Keeping this in mind relieves some of the anxiety of keeping on the treadmill. You might feel like if you don't start getting experience with Kubernetes or Typescript or Airflow that you'll be left behind. The reality is that if you're smart, then if/when you need Kubernetes/Typescript/Airflow, you'll be able to pick it up in a week or two.
I think some of the industry-wide problems with this come down to the fact that HR is too involved in the recruiting process. The typical job listing gets written by someone who's never written a line of code in their life. They just walk down to engineering, talk to the manager, hear something like "we're using Kotlin", then decide to add "5 years of Kotlin experience required".
I think that actually helps you look for generic skills and generally good people - if you're guaranteed that your interviewee doesn't have the direct skills your position requires, you look for the generic stuff. I don't know if that translates to other places, who like you said don't need someone smart who can roll with things, but instead a very particular set of skills.
After that, whatever is next on the treadmill is just some new syntactic sugar on top of the fundamentals taught in that book, which you can pick up with a minimum of time and effort.
Occasionally there is something truly new, but those are few and far between.
I really hope so.
I love what I do, but I don't ever want to give people the impression or example that becoming a technical leader requires working 50+, 60+ hour weeks. I maintain a work/life balance, and I want people to see that you can maintain that balance at all levels.
I hear first hand accounts of L5 to L6 employees and first level managers working unbelievably hard. The pay off is probably "worth it" if they or their kid don't end up being "a statistic". To be in this place (CEO, Founder, AppMaGooSoft) the odds were always in their favor to begin with. So why would the odds be unfavorable going forward? As a result there will always be a group of employees willing to throw themselves head first into whatever "challenge" "management" throws down.
I don't mean that it's bad to work hard, or long sometimes. But it MUST cause the employer some pain.
I'm talking about salary jobs where meetings scheduled to end at 6 routinely run past 6:30 (even though daycare closes at 6:30 too). Where you get non-actionable pages all the goddamn time because it doesn't cost the company anything. Where you say better integration tests should be a higher priority, but nah, it's all good we've got Datadog alarms set up so let's launch that bad boy! Where week-long work trips come with the assumption you'll fly on Sunday and Saturday with no time off in lieu, and people ask how they can reach you on vacation.
It's not OK even when you're single and childless as well. The fact that people think it is is revolting.
"You shouldn't work hard because if you do, it makes me look bad and I don't want to look bad or work hard."
Some people have lives and the capacity optimized towards working many long hours. You can't tell us to stop, it's not fair.
Also, it's OK to work hard. Work your ass off if you like. Just try not to get shafted. If nothing else it would help if overtime rules were meaningful.
But there's nothing wrong with solo work that involves working late.
I would argue the cowards who refuse to ever stand up to employers are the cause. If you aren't able to push back on your boss, you're fucked regardless of how many hours I choose to work.
There is a problem in thinking any one thing is "the cause". It's a multi-faceted problem of many self-reinforcing causes. The comment above talking about "shifting the culture to make it that much more acceptable" is a nod to the subtlety of what contributes to this.
All parties, employers and employees both, need to see how they do this.
I see no "nod to subtlety" as you claim. All I see is a claim that one employee's overwork is what enables the boss to force you into overwork.
For this to happen one needs 1) routine culture of overwork, 2) and employer who leans into this fact, and 3) an inability or unwillingness to push-back.
If you solve for #3 you've made #1 and #2 irrelevant.
Calling for others to stop willingly work as much reminds me of an old film I'd seen as a kid wherein a new employee starts at a loading dock, and after his first highly performant day the old-timers come along and give him a talking to about his making them look bad.
You'll only look bad if your team and boss expect the "above and beyond" to become the new norm, and this isn't a rule. It is a result of shit conditions.
Just as expecting your coworkers to go above and beyond is bad, so is chiding them for willingly working harder than you.
I have seen it in very mundane things that are not nearly of the magnitude of consequence of this topic. And also, in big things, such as expectations around working hours and standing up to unreasonable requirements.
Perhaps one aspect is that if a behavior is perceived to be a path to success in an organization, it will be emulated, rightly or wrongly, consciously or not. It's important to create an environment where many can thrive.
Your point is sound. It's also more ascerbic than it needs to be.
But if what you mean is that employees have a choice between passively accepting the status quo or trying to act collectively to improve their conditions, then yes, I agree.
It's just not true at all, and seems quite dramatic. A lot of people enjoy working on weekends or putting in long hours some days. When I was younger I would do it regularly, and I certainly don't begrudge or "hate" younger, childless colleagues who do that now, even if they involve me sometimes. Nor did I build myself a "prison". Stop demanding people live their lives how you want them to.
Who are these people? Don't extrapolate your anecdote.
A friend said it well when I was feeling guilty I wasn't putting more time into my work, "No one has ever looked back on their life and said 'I wish I spent less time with my family'".
Not everyone has a family worth being with.
Point still holds though. Your "made" family (marriage, heck, even kids) might turn up not to be all that great either. Happens to millions...
>Also, if I had to guess, no one has ever looked back on their life and said 'I wish I had spent more time being deliberately obtuse on the Internet' either.
Those are people who die with regrets though, so perhaps not the best people to listen to what to do not to have regrets! Their "I should have actually done that instead" deathbed choice might be equally bad as the original choice they made...
This is going on my tombstone lol.
If we're talking about parents and siblings and relatives—the family you inherit at birth—then yeah, I can totally see where you're coming from. Same with the other less happy scenarios that I don't think are helpful to go into in a topic like this.
But essentially, family means different things to different people, especially when we're talking about it in the positive sense.
Which is also why I found the OP's article about his son really upsetting, because from that point of view, I've lost people I love and wished that I spent more time with them when I had the chance, or did more of what they wanted.
It makes the loss feel so much deeper when you start playing back history and noticing the times you weren't present... and now that you want to be present it's too late for them. All you can do is take that with you and make sure those loved one you still have can enjoy that from you.
On the other had, I met a lady at the gym counter. She looked very tired so I enquired about her. She said it was third job. She said that she was doing that just to barely put enough food on the table for her family. I think some of the benefits IT folks enjoy is not what rest of the world experiences. She too complained that she doesn’t spend enough time with her kids. Life is difficult for so many people that they to make such compromises. The rest of us who can take time off a little should put it to best use.
I have massive newfound respect for parents, and especially for working single mothers. I have no idea how they do what they do. I am fortunate enough to have a nanny, work from home, and it's still very challenging.
I've made it past that phase of my life, having missed the entire first year of my middle daughter's life, not being there properly for my family after the loss (cancer) of one of our daughters at 2 1/2. My oldest daughter (are you keeping count) who is 18, I barely know and am just now building a relationship with.
I have the luxury of not making that mistake with our youngest daughter (we're up to 4 girls now) who is now 5. I still remember giving up time at home so that I could ensure I kept my job and was investing in the skills to get the next raise.
Hindsight is 20/20 and you already know what I'm going to tell you. You'd be surprised how little of your stress about your current job translates to you keeping it, but that stress makes you grumpy or distant and difficult to feel love from. You'd be surprised how something as small as dinner together, tucking them in at night, or an unrushed breakfast, can take so little time but mean so much to you and to them, still leaving you with the time to advance your career on behalf of the ones you love.
Please spend those special moments, they're so few and they pass so quickly. Your family likely won't starve, and maybe even getting fired from a toxic environment will be the break you need to see what else the world has out there for you and your family.
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Thanks for the article
"I’m guessing you have 1:1 meetings on the books with a lot of people you work with. Do you have them regularly scheduled with your kids?"
I am totally doing this, but more like 1:1 days.
Don't fall into the trap of thinking that making it to the odd piano recital is the same as being there every day for dinner.
As the piece sadly reminds us, that calendar invite might be scheduled too late.
All the time I was growing up, it used to surface every couple of years. Later when I got into college and took a bunch of psychology and child development classes, I learned that the brain undergoes a major reorganization at about two year intervals, the last being in the early twenties. Looking back, I realized that at every brain re-org, I mourned again. I mourned like a 5 year old at 5, like a 7 year old at 7, etc.
After my twenties, I thought I had put it completely behind me.
Then when my own daughter was 5, I had a period of several months where I felt an unfocused dread. A feeling of impending doom that I just could not explain or account for. Then in late September of that year, somehow I snapped out of it, with the realization that I was still alive. I looked at my daughter and understood that I was her age when my father passed. And it all made sense. And I am free.
Thanks for listening.
I'm glad you feel free now.
As a new father, things like SUDEP and SIDS are terrifying. I hope one day technology will improve, so we'll have fitness bands or smart cameras or smart mattresses that can detect these rare events and report back data so we can understand them, and hopefully at some point, intervene and prevent them. Sharing your story will hopefully inspire people to keep working on this kind of thing, so hopefully it might help save some other child in the future.
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
I hope you heal in time, and we're with you in your grief.
To me, this sounds like the father shouldn't be worried too much. Wiley loved the way his father was to the point of wanting to emulate him.
>Damn, could that kid dance.
The kid gave it all, like his father. Without such a role model, would he have been the same kid? Would he have had such a precious life?
> Lastly, you who read; aye, you
>Who this very line may scan:
>Think of all you planned to do ...
>Have you done the best you can?
>See! the tavern lights are low;
>Black’s the night, and how you shrink!
>God! and is it time to go?
>Ah! the clock is always slow;
>It is later than you think;
>Sadly later than you think;
>Far, far later than you think.
Reading this article was tough. What if one of her sons doesn't wake up one day? What if something happens to both of them?
She and her husband have busy careers, and while I won't share this article with them (it'll probably be a sore spot) I'm hoping that they'll make enough time for their kids.
We should all focus on things that matter in our lives and not take as granted that we (or our loved ones) will be around for ever.
Stories like this remind me of a nice post about the “lifetime calendar”:
Enjoy yourself while you’re still in the pink
The years go by as quickly as a wink
Enjoy yourself enjoy yourself its later than you think
My father was always at home for lunch.
My daughter was born 11 months ago and I switched jobs and work now fully remote.
I've known people who couldn't get time off if such a tragedy happened to them. Sure as hell stronger than I am.
Imagine you just came into enough money that you never have to work again.
What would you work on, then?
What is something that you can do that no one else can?
What can you do to help make the world more harmonious?
How can you help humans, animals, plants, machines, and the planet as a whole?
Think about these questions, and then do that.
I have an immigrant family on my street (know them and they are from China) that is three generations...every morning as I drive to work I pass the grandparents walking the children to the bus stop for school. Every day I think "why don't our parents live with us"? I've asked them but they've said no. They have their own home and lives and like their independence. Maybe that's true, but I wonder if they're actually lonely and don't want to impose. At the end of the day I just have to think this is a mutually non-beneficial setup for all involved (the US style of moving out "never to return" at 18).
I don't pretend to know why or say how to "fix" it but I believe we in the U.S. (and assuming at least some of the "west") took a wrong path somewhere when it comes to this.
Also constantly see in the media examples of college grads living and working from home, always in a "negative" economic-driven context. Maybe this is a trend that is changing (again in my opinion for the better).
I didn't even bring up nursing homes.
Edit: Constant ""'s are because I'm trying to be aware of over-generalize here...mainly speaking for "mainstream U.S. culture" which is always problematically reductive
Most of this country was settled & built by people who left home to find their fortune.
I agree with the idea of being able to start your career somewhere other than where your parents live. In the future maybe something will change about vocations/careers that will make location less relevant and this might help our family lives.
This has been the hardest realisation of my life and I try really hard to be there for the 1-2 weeks I can see them and try to make the time we spent count.
I have a mother who makes so much effort to make sure she stays in our lives. Calling/Facetiming every week at minimum. And she has visited at least once or twice a year the past five years. And we visit at least once a year if possible.
By contrast, I have a father who has literally done nothing to try to visit us in five years. It was always us making the effort, taking time and money away from ourselves, for them. And we got very little in return. We have been given very little respect by them despite showering them with undeserved respect. Every time we visit, it's like they're acting out their own Seinfeld episode -- literally worth nothing except waiting for the next opportune moment to be sarcastic "gotcha" asshats.
Some people would say, one shouldn't look for a return, that it should be all about giving. Those people must never have been burned in their lives. For me, reciprocation is the bedrock of a relationship. Any relationship. It doesn't have to always be equitable, but time and effort must be shown. Otherwise, I'm out.
I don't spend time with my parents because they are toxic assholes who are extremely mean to me and abused me growing up. I don't need shit that in my life.
Yet society thinks I'm the asshole for not wanting to subject myself to that?
It's important that you take care of yourself though. As someone who works in mental health, I've seen how these events sometimes have a way of affecting your mental state in a gradual and cascading manner. Please stay cognizant of you and your family's mental health in this difficult time.
This quote FTA may have just changed my life:
"I’m guessing you have 1:1 meetings on the books with a lot of people you work with. Do you have them regularly scheduled with your kids? If there’s any lesson to take away from this, it’s to remind others (and myself) not to miss out on the things that matter."
My advice to all of you with young kids is to follow that advice. Schedule 1:1 time with each of your kids, and make it more important than your most important meeting at work.