I’m a Dad. Even three years and two kids later, defining myself in that way still seems somewhat surreal.
I’m also a Community Organizer. I have been for 13 years... and believe me that’s often very surreal as well.
You see, the life of an Organizer isn’t like most. You are seen as a community resource, on call 24-7, traveling to and fro, reacting to the latest news, rallying the tired masses, dealing with setbacks, navigating the highs and lows, so on and so forth. Hmm, wait that’s sort of like being a ... Dad!
As I think about this Father’s Day, the fact is that my life as a working, organizing, advocating Dad meshes together in some strange and fascinating ways. It’s a balancing act and I often fall down, but with love and support from my family and flexibility and understanding from my employer I’m making it work.
I work for a medium-sized nonprofit called Democracy North Carolina. We’re based in Durham, NC and we organize for social justice and voting rights throughout the state. Our organization has progressive personnel policies that encourage people to have a work-life balance and allow for flexible scheduling. It’s really a policy of respect and trust. As an organization, we’re committed to taking care of our employees understanding that it pays off in the end with productivity, longevity, and commitment to our organization’s overall mission.
This is especially important in the nonprofit sector where the work is challenging, the hours are long, and the pay is fair but not on a for-profit scale. Democracy NC’s 30-day paid paternity leave (separate from my sick and holiday/vacation time), work-at-home flexibility and my wife’s shift work schedule make it possible for us to be with our kids a significant amount while both holding full-time jobs. Our schedule allows us to only pay for part-time childcare, which is less of a financial stressor than full-time care, but still a significant monthly expense. [As a side note our organization’s personnel policies are LGBTQ friendly and respect the diversity that is the modern day “family”.]
I’m grateful that I work for a good employer that gives me the flexibility and benefits that I and my family enjoy. I understand that most people do not have the same level of support from their job, but they should. We all need to organize and work together to create stronger work-family laws and pressure employers to do more for their employees. I’m blessed and I’ll keep organizing for social justice and try to do my part, sometimes with the kids in tow.
This post is part of the Fathers on Family Leave Blog Carnival.