I have a difficult time keeping track of all the hats I’ve inherited.
For example, I wake up as a father, but must smoothly switch over to my manager hat at work. And then revert back to father and husband when I arrive home.
At times, I wish I could focus on one role, perfect it, before being asked to fill another. But there’s no time for that because I’m a teacher each Sunday while trying to be a friend to someone who needs that part of me, at that moment. And that doesn’t cover the times I’m supposed to be a brother. Or son-in-law, coworker or neighbor.
Too many hat and accompanying responsibilities to keep track off.
And not enough time to transition from one to another. Occasionally, I’ll catch myself trying to manage my children when I should walk through the door as their father, not their boss.
Juggling different hats isn’t easy.
Yesterday, I scheduled a day off work to accompany my daughter on a school field trip. I boarded a bus full of fourth and fifth graders and sat next to the window because Luca likes the aisle seat. The cushy vinyl covered seat grinds into my knees because this bus was not built for anyone over five feet tall. But none of that matters because there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. Having the opportunity to spend a few moments with my daughter without distractions is rare.
Without seatbelts to keep us attached to the bus bench, every bump in the road sends us bouncing up and down like the gopher in Caddyshack.
We eventually made our way to the riverbank where two women taught us about the life cycle of salmon. We learned about the five varieties in salmon found in the Seattle area (Coho, Chum, Pink, Sockeye, and Chinook). The kids were able to walk near the river’s edge and see a group of Sockeye swimming near the shore. The children talked in hush tones as to not frighten the fish. Even the adult chaperones were mesmerized.
Before we boarded the bus, we had lunch. Luca and I sat on a log and ate our lunch. I drank my Diet Coke and Luca munched on her salt and vinegar chips. There was so much lush scenery to take in that we didn’t say much to each other. But every so often, I heard a notification that an email had arrived.
That dang beep entices me to remove my father hat. It will be a quick switch, I tell myself. Just one email and I’ll tune back in. Luca won’t notice.
But I fought the urge and only pulled out my phone to capture the picture below from where we were sitting. Small gusts of wind sent leaves raining down from the giant maple trees. The sun began to poke through the tree trunks as we finished our lunch and walked back to the bus.
It’s not always possible to keep hats from overlapping. There are times when personal life will interfere with work and vice versa.
But yesterday was a good reminder that I’m a father first. And on those occasions when I get that right, all the other hats seem to fall into place.