Friday, July 10, 2009

In the poker game of my life, I'll call your Gender Stereotype, and raise you a Sitcom Waiting to Happen

“Two roads diverged in a woods, and I – I took the one that made people go ‘What the **** is he thinking?!?’ – and that has made all the difference.” – adapted from Robert Frost, who is undoubtedly spinning in his grave at this gross mis-quote

"Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town.” Matthew 10:11-14 (New Living Translation)

“Never slander a worker to the employer, or the person will curse you, and you will pay for it.” Proverbs 30:10 (New Living Translation)


To say that Miami has been the breeding ground for some of the most substantial life changes I have ever experienced is a bit of a misnomer. I have literally bounced between some of the most soul-crushing moments of my life (the loss of my dad, the loss of Cricket) and the beginning of the most amazing journey I can imagine (that would be the birth of Kai). I can look back over the track of my personal and professional life, both here and representative at all the other colleges I have worked for, and see a distinct pattern emerging: massive change – let the dust settle – set up a new foundation – grow spiritually, personally and professionally – massive change – lather, rinse, repeat.

But that’s not what I’m here to write about today. Instead, I’m going to just state, with little to no preamble, Ashley and I have made a decision which – in this economy – makes about as little sense as possible:

At the end of this month (July), I will no longer be employed by the University of Miami as the Academic and Career Advisor in Residence (ACAR) for Mahoney/Pearson. After discussing the matter with Ashley, I have decided to simply step aside and become a full-time, stay-at-home dad.

Now, the reasons behind this are multiple, varied and sundry, and cover a number of professional and personal issues, but there were ultimately two factors we could not get around or simply brush aside and ignore:

1. MY SON, KAI. After Ashley and I looked at the possibilities of daycare about as objectively as we could, we eventually figured out that on a GOOD day, we might spend just a little over two QUALITY hours with Kai every weekday. We’d have to get him up in the morning, dress him, feed him, play with him (Quality Hour 1), and then take him to daycare. Then, at the end of the day, go get him, bring him home, feed him, bathe him, play with him (Quality Hour 2), and then send him to bed. However, given the non-traditional work roles we both have, which require both extensive after-normal-business-hour and weekend responsibilities, the time we would collectively or individually be able to spend with him vanishes. Way too quickly. Have the personal losses I have suffered this past year affected my decision? Probably so. But I will argue that they have affected any decision I would make for the better.

My first priority is to my family. My first responsibility is to my family. I know that over the course of the next year, Kai’s not going to remember one minute of time spent with me. He will have no memory of us playing together, going for walks, or learning to roll over or spend time with one another. But I will remember them. More importantly, I would remember not being there for him. And I would rather have the memories of a small, several-month old kid drooling on me than a vacuum where those memories could be. And before anyone starts throwing stones, this is simply the decision we have made that we feel is best for us. I do not as an individual, nor do Ashley and I as a couple, condemn anyone who DOES make the choice to put their kid in daycare. This is just not the choice we can make at this time.

2. IF I STAYED, I WOULD BE A BIG, FLIPPING HYPOCRITE. My job requires that I counsel students about making choices, about choosing the path that is right for them. About helping them to find their passion; to not just settle on getting a paycheck, but instead to be fulfilled with what they do. To love their work, to not deny the dreams that push and motivate them – and to seek them out. To try and fail is better than to not have tried at all.

In 1994, I began my career in Student Affairs. In 2008, I left the field I knew for the better part of over a decade for a job in Academic Affairs.

I think if I just state “It’s not you; it’s me,” this can convey part of the reasoning in my “break-up” with my current job. Maybe there’s another job out there that better suits me. Maybe there’s another subset in the field of Academic or Student Affairs that resonates more with my strengths. Who knows?

Given the numerous ways in which my life has had its foundation shift so radically over the course of the last year, it should come as no surprise to anyone that with this shifting comes a realignment of passions, dreams, goals – and ultimately, I need to professionally do what makes me happy. What gives my life meaning. What I feel called to do, what I feel a drive to do, what I feel like I HAVE to do. My job as an ACAR requires that I counsel students about making these same choices, about choosing the path that is right for them. About helping them to find their passion; to not just settle on getting a paycheck, but instead to be fulfilled with what they do. To love their work, to not deny the dreams that push and motivate them – and to seek them out. To try and fail is better than to not have tried at all. I can’t be the person who doesn’t walk the walk and talk the talk, and is a poor role model for the students he works with – and ultimately, for my son.

And if that sounds conspicuously closer to this being a struggle with matters of faith than matters of an occupation…well, then. Infer from that what you will. If there’s a line to read between, then settle in, get some coffee and reading glasses, and have at it.


So, yes. My cell phone number will be changing again, as will my email address once more. My Yahoo account is still alive and kicking (
sonnylemmons@yahoo.com), and is checked on a daily basis. That will probably be the easiest way to reach me from here on out.

And just try to understand and enjoy for me the fact that I’m going to have a lot of fun pushing his stroller down that less-traveled-by path in the woods.