After being together for 12 years Francisco and Luke decided they wanted to adopt a child. Adjusting to the role of being parents, including the joys and challenges of wanting to be actively involved in their daughter Elizabeth’s life, helped Francisco and Luke think outside the box as they developed their work family solution.
To begin with the couple relied on a combination of live-in college students and a local childcare center for Elizabeth’s care. As their daughter approached school age Francisco did some soul searching and decided it was important for either Luke or himself to be at home at the end of Elizabeth’s school day. Up until this point his work had allowed him flexibility to spend time with his daughter, but now Francisco wanted to create more time.
As a result, Francisco made the decision to leave the familiarity of a large organization and start his own business as a consultant. This role would allow him to leverage the skills he had learned at the workplace while creating a schedule that gave him significantly more time with Elizabeth.
Francisco explained, “Fifty percent of my work can be done from home and 50 percent outside the home, but the one constant is that I try to end everything by 3pm.” In this way Francisco can pick his daughter up from school and spend the afternoons with her. He does that four days a week and on the other day Elizabeth stays after school and Luke picks her up after work.
Another major benefit the family gained from Francisco’s changes around work was that he could now schedule a large proportion of his summers off and spend them with Elizabeth. The key to his success in doing this has been thinking ahead and planning his work carefully. It’s not always easy Francisco explains. He’s had to learn to say ‘no’ at the macro level – in terms of big picture calendaring, and at the micro level – finding acceptable ways to say no to deadlines that conflict with his time with Elizabeth. But he also sees how this skill is important and necessary to his achieving both his work and parenting goals.
At first it wasn’t easy to make these changes. The business began slowly. When Francisco started he only earned half of what he used to make and the family relied on Luke’s job for added income and health insurance. In time things became easier, he now had a more flexible approach to work and earned even more income than from his previous employment.
Like many men, Luke and Francisco had to fight against the internal and external pressures to focus primarily on paid work, and less on family. However, Francisco also sees that his particular perspective as a gay man has allowed him to think about the work-family conflict differently. “I am on the margin of this culture. I also have had the privilege of traveling.” As a result, Francisco concludes, “I can see that there are other ways of being. It gives me a bigger perspective.”
Since making this change Francisco’s role may have shifted from playground pal to taxi driver, but his overall goals never changed. “I wanted to fulfill my personal mission of making a difference to the organizations I work with and having time for family.” He is also deeply appreciative of the roles he and his partner have played in each other’s lives to make work and parenting both possible.