My oldest son, Kyle, turns eight today. We had his birthday party yesterday morning at a nearby park. Sometime after ten, my friend Mark showed up with his son who’s in Cub Scouts with Kyle.
Carter and Kyle stormed off to seize control of the playground while Mark took a seat at the bench and I joined him. “How’s the new job?” I asked, remembering how Mark had been unemployed for 18 months and wondering how he was adjusting after sitting on the sidelines for so long.
“Going great,” Mark replied and told me how much he liked it. While we caught up, my four-year-old son Noah came up and tried to talk to me and I shooed him away because Daddy was talking.
I’m not sure how we got there, but somehow the conversation veered toward self-improvement.
Mark turned to me. “You know, Ken,” he said. “Someone once told me that a good man has a job. But a great man always has two jobs — the one he has and the one that he’s working towards.”
I nodded as my wife Missy walked up to let me know it was time for me to go pick up the pizza.
So I didn’t get a chance to smugly tell Mark that I had it all figured out — that I did have two jobs, and that the one I was working towards was writing and becoming a full-time novelist one day.
And why wouldn’t it be?
I write every day. I think about writing. I read about writing. I study story structure so I can be a better storyteller. I don’t want to be a good man, I want to be great and see my dream come true.
I take my writing seriously and work hard on every new writing project I work on.
But as I drove away, I started to think about Noah and I felt bad. What had he wanted to tell me? Something silly like Daddy, the slide is blue! or obvious like We’re gonna eat pizza soon, I’m sure.
Maybe it was more. I’ll never know, because I didn’t bother to listen to him.
When I returned with a stack of pizzas a mile high, I saw things differently. I saw that my kids are projects in and of themselves, probably the greatest projects I’ll ever get a chance to work on.
The great thing about being a parent is that every day is a chance for a do-over — you know, that thing we used to say ourselves as kids when whatever we were doing wasn’t going as we planned.
Today is your do-over.
And if you’re a parent, know that you already have two jobs. That can be (and is) overwhelming, especially if you’re following another dream, but it’s also an opportunity for us to become great.