It’s an ordinary Monday, in that blurry space between autumn and winter, when the sun seems to beat a hasty retreat into alternate hemispheres. I am sitting on a beat-up plastic chair watching a boy – my son – go through non-stop drills at football practice, his orange football boots reflecting the fading sun’s rays. Twice a week, most weeks, I sit watching my son at football practice. This particular Monday, when he is done, we hop into the car, rush through to pick up his younger sister from kindergarten and head through to swimming lessons. And, at home, I sit with him as he does his homework. I believe that this is partly what being a father is about. Being available to my children.

The Job vs My Children

Two years ago, my reality was very different. I was working in a fulfilling but high pressure job that required me to be out constantly and involved regular travel. That year, I was attending about two events a week, writing articles constantly and did about six international trips. I went to Germany – Stuttgart specifically – for one night, leaving on a Monday evening and landing back home on a Thursday morning. Dropping off my then seven-year old son at school the Monday morning, his response to my telling him I would be away was an extremely nonchalant “Ok, see you.” He was used to having Skype conversations with from random hotel rooms. If I phoned instead, it wasn’t uncommon for either of my children to not want to speak to me because they were ‘busy’ to talk.

Even when I was home, in reality I wasn’t because my mind was often on the work and trying to keep up on weekends, because there weren’t enough hours in the day. And there were days when I just wanted to do nothing – watch football, vegetate, sleep – but there was never time. It’s like walking off a plane at the height of summer in Accra; it is so humid even the air is heavy, making it hard to breath.

There are few things as disheartening as the moment when you realise that you are living a parallel life to your family, that they have their routine, their ‘things’ that go ahead with or without you. I was a visitor.

Breakfast

Walking Away/Towards…

Being an adult isn’t child’s play. Eventually, something had to give and that something was my prestigious job as editor of the men’s business and lifestyle magazine. Ok, there were two other considerations but a large part of my decision was based on being a firm believer in the ‘presence over presents’ parenting approach.

It may have taken me over a year but the day I walked away from the job and into my home office was the day I became happier. It was the first day in the weight that I was carrying – though I didn’t realise I was carrying it – became lighter. It took me a couple of weeks to find a new rhythm – and for my children to get used to my being home all the time, especially when they got home from school. My work life hasn’t become easier – building a new business never is. But being clearer on the fact that I work to be able to provide for my family, and myself, and making decisions accordingly, has enhanced my day-to-day.

A Better Place

Even when I miss moments – like a rugby match, or a school event – it doesn’t feel as bad because they know that I am there, as much as I can, all the other times.

I have a lot more control over my schedule and work commitments. I decide on the projects I want to get involved in taking my children’s schedule and lives into consideration. I make decisions on the basis of the lifestyle I am working to build for us as a family. This is all good. Malcolm X said “the future belongs to those who prepare for it today.” I prepare for it every day because my future involves being able to create a foundation for my children. That is the intention I work with, today. Tomorrow? We’ll have to wait till then.

25 Comments

  1. Mankopane Phalatsi

    Wow…this is so inspiring. I work so far from home about 240km away, and sometimes I just feel like quitting just to be with my two boys and my husband. I only see them twice a month after every 10 days, and spend 4 days. Every time I have to come back to work, I feel so guilty its like somehow I don’t care.
    Just this week on Thursday, my elder son, 12yrs of age was invited to attend orientation at his new school he will be joining in August. Guess what, I was here at work, his father was on sick leave and unable to move, I had to call my best friend to attend the parents’ session on our behalf. I kept picturing my son all alone asking himself unanswered questions…
    Anyway, thank you so much Kojo, for words of encouragement, I now see a bigger picture and will from now plan wisely.

  2. Kojo Baffoe

    Hey Mankopane, we do what we have to do to ensure that we can do best for ourselves and our children. You will find a way. I wish you strength and the best.

  3. Lehasa

    Mr Baffoe, I applaud the step you’ve taken and take great heart in it being the right thing to do, for those who can of course. I have taken steps to ensure I work from home more too, I wrote full time and have curtailed my other pursuits to keep me home. at times you feel it’s wrong because you could be more productive or make more money doing other things but the investment being made in the most important thing in my life, my family is immeasurable. your post reminded me of that, thank you

  4. Lehasa

    Mr Baffoe, I applaud the step you’ve taken and take great heart in it being the right thing to do, for those who can of course. I have taken steps to ensure I work from home more too, I wrote full time and have curtailed my other pursuits to keep me home. at times you feel it’s wrong because you could be more productive or make more money doing other things but the investment being made in the most important thing in my life, my family is immeasurable. your post reminded me of that, thank you

  5. Merle Dieterich

    Incredible move, you must be some Father Kojo! I couldn’t resist sharing it with everyone.

  6. Andrew

    An eye opener indeed. I was at the event where you announced the news of quiting your editor job with the magazine. Today I understand beyond my comprehension which I had then. God bless your selfless dedication to your family and grant give you strength in all your endeavours.

  7. Kojo Baffoe

    Thank you Merle. I hope you are well.

  8. Kojo Baffoe

    Thanks for your comment Lehasa. It is not always easy but it is extremely fulfilling.

  9. Buthayna Ibrahim

    Beautiful!
    Thank you for sharing Kojo. Parenthood is not a breeze.

  10. jeff Rikhotso

    Thanks for this insightful read, it encourages us all to not be afraid to dream better for our kids and families.

  11. Kojo Baffoe

    Thanks for reading Jeff.

  12. Kojo Baffoe

    That it isn’t 🙂

  13. Poloko Kolobe

    Keep it up Kojo.

  14. Tumi

    hey Kojo… great work!!! Am hosting a childrens book fair next month. Would like for you to participate in the programme or perhaps direct me towards publishers or companies that would be keen to support the initiative.

    Tumi

  15. Motena

    Not being a father but having had one, i understand how this decision was the most important yet. I remember a day, somewhere in my second year at varsity and i was talking to my mother one the phone about fees and other things. The moment money was mentioned i guess it was the moment she decided she retires from the “money” conversation, I was shocked to hear my dad at the other end of the line because i did not know what to say to him. My dad and I have a great relationship, He has made me laugh more than anyone in the family and i know a lot about the way he grew up and days at work and this is the source of our laughing moments. We did not however have a relationship where we discuss my life, my plans, my needs.. Those “serious” conversations were always with my mom. What career path to take and so on, justifying it all was always a thing we did with my mom. So i stuttered and finally gathered the courage to tell him… Fast forward a few years later and he has retired, and is home to be able to take me anywhere, i was going back to school that Sunday and normally i would call a cab to take me to the taxi terminal, and that day as usual i had made arrangements which to my surprise my mom asked me to cancel because my dad wanted to take me to the terminal instead… I thought it was strange… but i said ok. Now as an adult, i now realise, he actually missed out a lot on our day to day, and we had our own routine and way of doing things which happened with or without him. And when now all the work life was done, it was hard for him to come in and find his place in the system. It is still hard for him, the man gave 30 of his best years to the job and in that time his kids also became adults… I know what it did to the kids, I can only imagine how he feels…

  16. Kojo Baffoe

    Thank you for sharing Motena. It is such hard work, finding the balance between one’s responsibilities within the home and outside the home. I was having a chat with my son this morning, because I am now spending more time at a client’s office, about how I can’t always be there to, for example, take him to football – I need to work to pay for the football, while I try to make sure that I am there for him.

  17. Didi

    I enjoyed reading this Kojo. Nothing is more important than us making those changes for our kids right now. Its never easy though. Well done for being able to do it.

  18. Nonikiwe Mashologu

    I don’t know how I missed this article Kojo but I’m glad I stumbled upon it. Wonderful read!! Thanks for sharing:-)

  19. Kojo Baffoe

    Thanks Noni. Yeah, wrote it when I left Destiny Man. I did share in a couple of places.

  20. Kojo Baffoe

    True Didi. Thanks for reading.

  21. Nandi

    A brilliant read – the kind of God-sent one that moves you into action. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Muzomuhle Ngwenya

    I always applaud a man who put his family first, that’s an African. Nearer or far, as long as you do it for the family. I plan to work in Dubai for a couple of years so to better my families future and more determined now after listening to Vusi Thembekwayo’s show yesterday in Kaya FM #InfluentialFridays. The future looks to bright and pregnant with possibilities, yet so expensive.

  23. Kojo Baffoe

    Thank you. All the best with your journey into the future.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

About Kojo Baffoe

Of Ghanaian/German heritage, raised in Lesotho and currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Kojo is the proverbial slashie, the professional ‘jack of all trades.’ He is an entrepreneur, writer, facilitator, content architect, former men’s magazine editor and speaker. He has a Bachelor of Commerce (1994) with majors in Economics, Marketing and Business Administration from the former the University of Natal (Durban), now University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Pin It on Pinterest