I am away from home on average about 14+ hours a day. Time spent away from my family adds up depending upon whether or not I’ve got any Spanish lessons scheduled after my regular work hours in my corporate gig. This all adds up quick to a lot of time apart from my family.
We live in an age today where many of us commute to work, and that is the norm; it is practically expected if you live outside of the downtown area of a city that you commute in some fashion to your site of ‘work.’ Some of us have the privilege to work remotely and it is becoming more common, but it is still not quite widespread within the corporate mindset. Regardless of the exceptions, the expectation is that you work away from the family because “that’s just what you do.”
Ever since I became a father nearly two years ago, I find that my heart has grown in its longing to be closer and more available to my family. I want simply to be present to them. The tension of being gone is growing. I think a father’s presence can have tremendous impact in the home and its order, whether or not there is direct interaction during, let’s say, “working hours.”
There are times (few and far between) when I am able to take the ol’ laptop home due to inclement weather, or an appointment that might be close to home, and I find that my days are lifted to a higher degree of peace, happiness, and overall gratitude. While I might not be directly available to intentionally interact for the duration of those working hours, I find that my presence is impactful for my wife and my son. Not only do I impact them, but their presence to me has positive impacts as well. To hear my son’s laughter, my wife’s tender and consoling voice, and their interaction as a mother-son dynamic fills my heart with joy.
When I am away from them day to day, I am reminded of a couple of Psalms, namely, 127 and 128. The psalmist speaks of the blessings of the family, the children, the wife, and the home. “Children too are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb, a reward” Psalm 127. “Happy are all who fear the Lord, who walk in the ways of God…Like a fruitful vine, your wife within your home” Psalm 128.
I ask myself, is it their goodness that reflects God’s presence, and is He is drawing me nearer to them in order to better love Him? My heart is all the more full when I am with my domestic Church, leading them (however imperfectly) and loving them (again, however imperfectly).
Men, we need to make it a goal to be present. Whether that’s landing a job remotely to be at home with our loved ones, scaling back unnecessary hours in the office, or altogether discerning a different and perhaps more radical path such as a homestead, I would argue that as Catholic fathers and husbands, we will need to fight to be near our families, our homes, our domestic Church more. The goodness of the Lord dwells within our homes and families, and Christ is calling us to draw closer.