Home > Lifestyle > Family > Readers Write-in
Wednesday October 2, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday October 2, 2013 MYT 8:02:39 AM
by kua chong ming
Most precious : Kua with his eldest daughter Julianne, wife Vivienne and younger daughter Meredithe.
A five-year-old daughter’s
innocent question jolted her father
into reconsidering his priorities.
I WATCHED an episode of the television series Band of Brothers entitled"Why We Fight" recently and it moved me to tears. I am not one who is easily moved. I watched Rudy and did not cry, nor when I saw P.S. I love you with my wife (sometimes a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do, and in this case watch a chick flick without complaining).
In this particular episode, Easy Company of the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army (paratroopers) were burnt out. The war was ending, and Hitler’s army were disintegrating left, right and centre as depicted in a scene where the Allied Forces were driving towards the fatherland and German soldiers were marching out with their officers on horse-drawn carts.
In all this cacophony, we cut into a scene where Easy Company found one of the many Nazi concentration camps, and was completely devastated by the insanity and inhumanity they witnessed.
The most memorable scene for me was when the company’s translator, Liebgot (the only Jew in the troupe), had to instruct all the prisoners back into the camp for their own good. Just picture the agony and emotion portrayed by an actor for this scene, let alone the real thing.
Thousands of men, impoverished, suffering and caged, and now being instructed to willingly be caged again so that they can be monitored closely for medical reasons.
Coming back to 2013 – I might already have lost some of you – I mean, how many viewers are interested in war series (movies maybe) and how in the name of Merlin’s beard does this has anything to do with our current lives?
The country is not at war. But for me, and I believe many of us, we are at war with ourselves. Yes, you read that right; ourselves. We live in a materialistic world. Anyone thinking otherwise is either a fool or a super genius. Why do I sound so negative? Let us look at the math. How many of us are doing what we love doing? How many of us are happy doing what we are doing? How many are doing it to put food on the table? How many are also neglecting what is really important to them in order to do so? It brings me back to my question: why are we here?
I have been working for the last 12 years in the pharmaceutical industry. In that time, I spent seven years as a salesperson, almost two years as a trainer and three years in product management.
I had had to wait in a clinic until midnight for a doctor to place his order, spend weekends tarining new employees and endure sleepless nights doing my brand plans and suffered various hardships.
My life today is typical of the middle income group. I own a house and a car, have above average spending power and to add icing to the cake, a doting wife and two beautiful daughters (I have twins, yea!).
Things are not too bad at work; my manager is a respected man and I have great colleagues whom I can honestly call friends.
Work will be work, and as my parents and teachers told me not too long ago I have to work hard. Give it my best shot. Carpe diem (seize the day), theysaid. And I did. I gave my job everything I had, holding nothing back. I climbed the corporate ladder at a steady pace and hopefully I am respected for it. That was how I was brought up; to earn my place, respect and trust.
In my pursuit of these well-defined markers of success, I usually come home utterly exhausted, highly irritable and bogged by work issues.
As they say, you could never finish your work because if you did, they would not need you in the first place. Or in layman terms, I was managing my work-life balance badly. It was either that or I was trying to not leave any stone unturned and squeezing every single cell in my brain in order to gain that millimeter of an advantage to succeed.
I did not realise that by giving everything to work, I was failing at everything else.
The saddest and most enlightening moment of my life came when my younger daughter, Meredithe, said to me one night, “Papa, why are you always so crumpy?” Those were her exact words.
She was only five and could not pronounce “grumpy” properly yet.
I was to learn from my wife that my eldest daughter was afraid of me because I was short-tempered all the time.
Me! The life of the party at work. The person who was able to make people laugh at my “creative” jokes.
Some of my colleagues even commented I should be a stand-up comedian as I was able to make them laugh so much.
And yet, to those dearest to me, I was this monster, not to be trifled with, to tread around with caution and avoid whenever necessary.
WHO am I?
How does all this rambling relates back to the story earlier about the paratroopers? It is simple really. In our long term pursuit for perfection and self-defined goals, we tend to forget the most important one: being happy and making the ones closest to us happy as well.
I swear, the last five years of my life had just gone by like a tornado. Ask me anything about my experiences during my school days or even in the university and I bet you, I am able to let you know who I was with, who my friends were and what I did. I can even remember some of their phone numbers because I called them so often.
But ask me about my daughters – how they grew up, what was their first word, their favourite book, their favourite food – you will draw a blank stare from me. Some father huh? But ask me my customers’ favourite restaurant … the irony of it all.
My message to the many working fathers out there (and maybe some working mums as well), why are we here?
My answer to you is we are here to live. Take the joy in being a part of something amazing. I am lucky to have my parents, and I remember fondly the trips we took when I was a kid, the joy of meeting my cousins during the lunar new year, the nervousness of waiting for my exam results with them by my side. My parents are very loving to this very day and I really hope to emulate their dedication and love to each other. Their motto was “we swim and sink together”.
My pursuit of happiness before this was tied too much to ringgit and sen, something tangible, and so very cold.
I lost that warmth of my heart, the emotional part of me. They went missing and they are the very essence that made me, me.
And I hope by writing this, many more will understand and see, our lives are more than just the nine to five (or longer) of tagging in and out of the revolving door at work.
Spend time with your loved ones, see them grow physically, mentally and emotionally.
At the very end, I can only hope I am able to say I am a great dad and a wonderful husband. I am taking my first few steps already. I took notice so that I can find myself. I am looking for a better job where I am able to balance my family and my professional ambitions.
I am placing my loved ones on a higher priority than tangible performance index like money and pay.
How about you?
With new-age dads getting more hands-on and involved in parenting these days, Fathers Figure provides a platform for them to talk about their experiences – fulfilling, amusing, inspiring, or taxing. We welcome contributions from fathers of any age and every stripe – rich dad, poor dad, single father, fun dad, tiger dad. E-mail us at email@example.com with the subject header ‘Fathers Figure’. Your story should preferably be between 600 and 800 words, with a photo attached. Published contributions will be paid. So please include your full name, IC number, address and contact number.
Tags / Keywords:
Family & Community, father, family, parenting, work-life balance
Copyright © 1995-2013 Star Publications (M) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)