Sisyphus As Parenting Role Model

crispydoc Uncategorized 11 Comments

A big part of my motivation to cut back on shifts is to spend more time with my kids, currently finishing the second and fourth grades. I’m a hands-on dad. I know their teachers, volunteer in their classrooms, and their classmates know me.

Not all the time I spend with them is roses and sunshine. On a recent weekend morning I set aside time for a “playdate” with one child, where we rode our bikes through the neighborhood, and then spent the balance of the morning shooting hoops at the nearby junior high school.

By all rights it should have been a special time, with no competition for attention from the rival sibling. Instead, it became a whining extravaganza.

“My leg hurts.”

“This isn’t fun.”

“That’s not how you play. You don’t know the rules.”

“This is boring.”

For those unfamiliar with the myth, Sisyphus was a Greek king condemned by the gods to spend every day rolling a boulder up a mountain. He’d awaken the next day to find the boulder at the bottom of the mountain and start his labors anew.

Most days I enjoy my kids and our time together is a net positive. Then there are the days when time I’d reserved for them becomes a series of disappointments. On these days, Sisyphus is my parenting role model.

Postscript: After a cool-down period in the afternoon, the perpetrator sidled up to me and apologized. Maybe the boulder is an inch closer to the hilltop after all.

Comments 11

  1. Hello CD!!

    I love those ages- grades 2 & 4!!! This is one of the best times to be around the kids. They can do fun things and are growing into neat little people.

    I always knew spending time with the kids was for MY BENEFIT. It was something that I knew I would regret if I missed out on it. I most certainly did NOT see it as the kids benefit. I always appreciated time with the kids no matter how whiny or ungrateful they seemed at the time. It was probably because I missed them so much when I was working full time in the past.

    Thankfully my kids are 17 & 19 years old and they still want to spend a lot of time with us. So CD, they thank you/ appreciate you…..eventually.

    Thanks for writing this. Man did you bring up memories for me. And I smile about it cause those are precious times.

    1. Post

      Dr. MB,

      There are mornings that play like a bad Garfield comic from the 80s – I set an alarm after a late night in the ED to give the kids a kiss before they leave for the day, only to find them fighting and asking me to unwittingly referee their disagreement. I then jump back under the covers grumbling and promising not to wake up for this again.

      Your perspective is totally refreshing – guilty as charged, I spend the time for my benefit. I wonder if it’s a variation of paying yourself first. You spend the time with the kids because it fills a need, even in those moments when they are driving you crazy.

      And for the record, in my empty nest fantasies I keep thinking of raiding your playbook – buy a triplex, live in one unit, save the other(s) for the kids to live in. Seems like an interesting solution to provide them independence yet maintain proximity to offer support.

      I’ll keep holding out for that eventual moment of appreciation…but I suppose even if it never comes, I can live with that.

      Thanks for the alternative viewpoint,


  2. Very funny anecdote. So far, knock on wood, my daughter enjoys spending time with me (12 years old). Pretty soon however I can see where she will prioritize time with her friends over me and stuff that I thought would be fun can be boring.

    I guess part of the parent-child relationship. The cool dad when they are young becomes the embarrassing dad when older.

    1. Post

      From an already embarrassing dad to a cool dad, you called it perfectly.
      Enjoy while you can, and accept what is beyond your control when it happens.
      Do it for you, and you’ll have no regrets.



  3. Don’t judge it, just do it.

    The way you stop a train is to stand in it’s way and let it hit you. Then do it again tomorrow, and tomorrow. Let that sucka’ know resistance is futile. Your kids whine because they know it bugs you. The choice to be bugged however is optional. If you really want to piss them off tell em what a great time you had.

  4. When they fall asleep at night, tucked in their beds, looking so sweet and peaceful, all the disappointments melt away and you look forward to doing it all again the next day.

    1. Post
  5. I’m surprised this happened during a laid-back bike-and-hoops day, instead of after spending a ton of time and money to plan “something special for the kids”, which I’ve found is when the whining really skyrockets. For us, kid enjoyment is usually inversely proportional to parental spending/belief in the “specialness” of the activity.

    1. Post


      Your observation a la “buy the toy, they play with the box” rings true, although these days we spend more time getting gifts we all hope to enjoy – travel experiences together top the list. The benefit to travel together as your big spend on something special is that without the distractions of work, there’s ample time to work through the issue that would otherwise be postponed until after school, after sports, after I’m less grumpy from a night shift, etc. It’s not that they (or I) am suddenly better behaved, but that working through it occurs in real-time, which has definite benefits in leaving the kids feel both listened to and accountable.

      Thanks for chiming in – I’ve added you to the Physician Finance Blogs Directory on the main menu bar since the time/work exchange seems an good fit with FIRE concerns.



    1. Post

      If I had a young Peter Cetera’s voice from his days with Chicago, I’d be crooning, “You’re the inspiration,” right about now, BC. Your story is compelling and your turnaround brilliant. I appreciate the opportunity to help you reach other people who could really use the message that all is not lost because of financial indiscretions early in their career.

      Keep leading by example!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.