Friday, December 20, 2019

Mr. Butler: The Earthy Engineer

I've always told him that his perspective is nothing like anyone I've ever met.  In the coming year, the WRITE Balance is going to include writing from Mr. Butler.  He's super smart, loves woodworking and the outdoors, but also has an interesting take on life as a single-income, engineer, homeschool dad.  I hope you come to appreciate him the way I do!

I'm an engineer but don't engineer much anymore.  I manage an engineering team and help where I can at home.  I've changed jobs or been promoted 5 times in 4 years, and though it's a complicated story only the first job-change was one I sought out. The others were more like "we need you to come do this thing".  In four years I went  from managing only myself to managing 18 other people so to say my bandwidth has become saturated lately is an understatement.  Problem with me happens to be that I don't seem to be particularly self aware.  This means that I don't recognize my bandwidth saturation until it's almost, or too, late.

This saturation and the realization of it has been tough to accept.  Growing up, task-saturation or time management wasn't talked about so I went all the way through college into adulthood not realizing or having the capability to deal with it, though I can't say I ever felt task saturated before maybe 2-3 years ago, after having a 3rd kid, and moving to more difficult jobs.

Engineers are generally solitary people and have to usually be given a structured environment, and forced into, social situations.  So cube life seemed to suit me well.  I could do my own thing and generally stay out of the way, and have enough time for myself.  It wasn't till I was forced out of that life that I began to realize I wasn't normal, at least for an engineer.

I'd taken a Meyer's-Briggs test before we got married, and came out squarely introverted.  After going through changes that forced me out of my shell I retook that test at work and came out moderately extroverted, which I now accept as the  reality.  This apparently isn't the norm, unless you have past things that may have driven you one way or the other, which I have.  When I met my wife she would have told you she was extroverted, but now she'd say introverted all the way and that the extroversion was driven by childhood stuff.

I'm interested now that I have kids in how the things we do as parents that don't seem like much have such a large impact on our kids, and how in the future that kid, as an adult, may not be able to quantify why they do the things they do or feel the way they feel.  Simply because it wasn't ever ONE direct thing that shaped that behavior but the presence or absence of something on a multitude of small occasions.  So as an adult you hear a voice telling you to do something but can't ever think of a direct time your parents ever said that.

This isn't to say you as a parent are going to completely fail, but that you DO have to be cognizant of what your actions and words say even if they don't feel like that much to you.  To say, "that shouldn't matter" is to disregard the reality of what your actions actually mean to someone small whose entire worldview is shaped by those small moments.

Suffice it to say I've made mistakes as a parent in this arena, things I regret deeply and hope fervently that I can do enough to overcome both for myself and for my kids.  At the same time I realize that messing up in the moment as a parent is an opportunity to model repentance and ask for forgiveness where appropriate.  Nobody is perfect, but also, no one is a complete failure.


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