Back in my consulting days, I logged a lot of work hours. Par for the course.
And, the prevailing wisdom was: “Not to worry about spouses and kids … it’s the quality of time spent, not the quantity”.
I never bought in to the notion.
There were too many 2nd and 3rd marriages … and too many phoned-in happy birthday wishes to sons & daughters.
I even remember the story of a son who was was asked to eulogize his father who was struck down early with a fatal heart attack.
The kids reply: “why don’t you do it, I barely knew the guy”
True story, except for the cause of death …
Eventually, I concluded that you have to throw a lot of quantity against the wall and hope that some of it sticks as quality time.
You can’t just pick your shots and expect nothing-but-net every time.
All of the above was brought to mind by a NY Times op-ed that struck a confirmatory chord ….
The op-ed was titled “The Myth of Quality Time”
The author reflects on his large family’s annual get together at a Carolina beach house.
He confesses that he used to just drop in for a couple of days – rather than staying the whole week.
His argument: he’d make sure that he gave the family his undivided attention and, thus, rack up high quality time.
But, he had an epiphany.
In a nutshell:
With a more expansive stretch, there’s a better chance that I’ll be around at the precise, random moment when one of my nephews drops his guard and solicits my advice about something private.
Or when one of my nieces will need someone other than her parents to tell her that she’s smart and beautiful.
Or when one of my siblings will flash back on an incident from our childhood that makes us laugh uncontrollably, and suddenly the cozy, happy chain of our love is cinched that much tighter.
There’s simply no real substitute for physical presence.
We delude ourselves when we say otherwise, when we invoke and venerate “quality time,” a shopworn phrase with a debatable promise: that we can plan instances of extraordinary candor, plot episodes of exquisite tenderness, engineer intimacy in an appointed hour.
Couldn’t have said it better myself …
Full op-ed is worth reading.