Busy right? No busier than many of you though. I travel less than 25% for work. But I rack up miles just the same. I do a lot of traveling for the Fraternity. I love it. My wife and four kids (all 12 or younger) not as much.
They understand the commitment I have and they love that it's driving great things, but of course, they wish I was home with them instead. I am extremely dedicated to my family, but that also includes this Fraternity. About three years ago, I was a District Deputy. I had at least two meetings every week (for two years) as well as traveling to give talks and working a 40+ hour job, running the podcasts and managing this blog page. Of course I had several other pans in the fire too. But who's counting? You all get it by this point.
You might be saying, "Brother, it's FAMILY FIRST!" I know. They always are, but also we all have blind spots. Trust me.
My wife resented Freemasonry a little. You all might find that hard to believe since she is very active in the Fraternity in her own way--blogs, message boards etc. But sometimes, she'd just not know where I was, not see me for a day or two, and it became an issue.
I had planned on retiring as District Deputy the same year I was asked to step down, but to be honest, early retirement was a good thing. My family got me back. Of course there was still the travel for podcasts, conventions and symposiums, but I was home a lot more often. We reconnected.
I took some steps that I think really helped my family cope with the fact that I wasn't home sometimes. I created a "Masonic Calendar" in Google and I added it to all the family's phones. They now could see my flights, where I was going and when I would be home. This was HUGE. No longer was there the explosive disappointment when I couldn't go to Six Flags on Saturday night. My family knew weeks in advance and we planned around my travel.
Something else I did when my kids were a little younger, but I've since stopped, is I had created a YouTube channel called "Super Adventure Dad". I would take a few little videos and montage them with GoPro's Quik app, then upload them and send the link back to them. They would see what I was up to and felt like I was sharing the "fun" with them.
Now that the kids are a little older, I've suspended the channel and I don't upload there any more, so you'll probably find it, but the vids will all be private. Sometimes I felt that having to update a calendar and the like for my family was a hassle, or it wasn't value add since I didn't think anyone would pay attention to it. But the truth is, it was crucial. My wife and I, in a blink had an even better relationship. And my mom knew exactly when to expect the kids, since she was the saint watching them when I was out of town and my wife was at work.
In the end, I travel more than ever for presentations, but it's okay. I've streamlined my lodge experience (it only took 11 years). I have just one blue lodge I attend, unless it's a special event or another lodge personally reaches out because they need assistance. I am still a member or all the appendant bodies (sans Shrine), but I RARELY visit. One day, I may become active but I can save that for when life slows down. For now, it's somewhat of a lean philosophy.
So my message to you is to make sure you're connected. Make sure that if your traveling around for the Craft, whether locally or nationally and especially internationally, have that information available to the family, take pictures, stay connected. It's important. It made a real difference for me and my family.
Well, I have to send a few pictures and words to my kids and wife, so until next time, brothers and friends...
RWB, Robert Johnson is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Spes Novum Lodge No. 1183 UD. He is a Past Master of Waukegan Lodge 78 and a Past District Deputy Grand Master for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatrewhich focus on topics relating to Freemasonry. He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of four, works full time in the executive medical industry. He is the co-author of "It's Business Time - Adapting a Corporate Path for Freemasonry" and is currently working on a book of Masonic essays and one on Occult Anatomy to be released soon.