Give Into This

You have a very important job. You have so much going on. That’s the terrible part about having kids, for both men and women–for most of us, it comes right in the prime of our careers, in the prime of our lives. Can we afford to slow down? To stop? Do we want to?

In the 18th century, Marquis de Lafayette’s wife found herself writing to her husband, then a hero of two worlds, in the midst of glory on the world stage, about when he might come home and have a minute for family. “The occupations of paternity are so sweet,” she said. “Give in to them. They can only be good.”

But like so many of us, he was too busy. Not just because there was that crisis (you know, the American Revolution), but because he seemed to find another one and another and another after that. He would be gone for years, and when he was back in France, he was called away to meetings and events and parties. As Mike Duncan would write in his fascinating biography, Hero of Two Worlds, Lafayette would “not come to appreciate her words until many regretful years later.” His precious daughter, Henriette, would die at two. His wife would not live to see 50 (though she would experience time in a French prison, along with her grandmother, mother, and sister).

Family life is so sweet. Yet we resist it. We let things call us away–we accept excuses much flimsier than political revolution. We trade it for coffee meetings and drinks after work, for middle seats on a Southwest flight. Why?

We must give in. It can only do us good. And do us good before it’s too late.

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