The REAL beginning 🙂
To really get a raw understanding of the “work” part of me and how it relates to me being a dad, we need to start from the beginning — the journey of my career path as well as how it related to the balance of me being a family man.
The Beginning: How I Got Here
So, many of you know me as “Doctor” Ben Fung; currently the Chief Content Officer for Up Doc Media & a known blogger in the Physical Therapy/Healthcare realm in regards to healthcare advocacy, business, marketing, branding, and all things in support of students & young professionals.
I am a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), licensed to practice as a Physical Therapist (PT) in the state of California. Additionally, I have a Master of Business Administration from the University of Michigan. #GoBlue! And, have undergraduate degrees in Bioengineering & Psychology. Suffice to say, I’ve spent too much time in school. In my work life, I started out as a bartender way back in college while also making some money as a tutor and academic prep instructor for SATs & AP exams.
Eventually, life lead me to a place where I decided to go for that DPT degree & get into “real” work. Work… was good. But, it was tough from a professional standpoint. I felt very frustrated as a new professional having been duped in certain senses into an industry which is inflexible, highly political, and favors the experienced — despite the fact that how long one has done something rarely translates to how good they are at it. PS. That’s why I love Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) so much — the mat never lies. But, that’s another post!
Moving on. What ultimately happened was that my professional frustration led me to seek mentorship. My mentor advised that I look beyond my ceiling as a PT. He told me to look into getting an MBA so I could bypass the shallow boundaries of a clinician and jump into management. Soon after, I got a promotion as a PT II (level 2, in many industries means you have some more responsibilities and also have benefits of seniority). Still feeling frustrated, my wife found a snail mail flyer about a Rehabilitation Director at a well reputed, high-end facility.
I was actually struggling a LOT about even applying. But, I did. And, I got the job! Along with this job was nearly a 15% raise in pay. Salary. Prestige. Responsibility. And, the opportunity to make the difference that old systems refused to address.
This is where everything changed.
Going into this promotion into another company, I knew several things. First, I knew that my benefits would be sacrificed. Having a baby on the way, my wife and I devised this plan which would get us a total of 9 weeks of baby bonding time with tapering back to work schedules for the last 6 weeks. All this went away with the new job. What was worse, this new job required my being over 100% involvement at every level… quite often the work was following me home to the point where I basically never left work, mentally. There were a lot of responsibilities I had to transition into; not to mention, my entrance into fatherhood.
Postpartum was really rough on my wife. This meant that it was hard on everyone; mommy, daddy, and baby alike. I wasn’t nearly as available as I wanted to be. In fact, my son was starting to exhibit behaviors to which I was in disfavor — he would refuse my play time, refuse my affection, and refuse my comfort. Why? Well, we thought that it was because I was never around. I was always at work, even when I was at home.
Despite the promotion, the prestige, the professional engagement, and even the money, we never felt worse off. Exhausted by a newborn and feeling tattered as a family, I eventually burnt out. It was either going to be work or family.
Family always comes first.
So, I quit.
I quit and we took a 6 week sabbatical to refocus, rejuvenate, and rest. It was great. It was so very much helpful. And, it was needed. We needed it.
We needed to be a family.
That is how it all began… when push came to shove. I told work to shove off. Still, no one can afford that indefinitely. We all have to figure out a way to make a living. But, feeling so terribly traumatized by the amount of work-life-imbalance… there were adjustments that would have to be made.
And, such was the veritable beginning of how I started my journey in becoming a work at home dad.
That’s it for now! Please use the “How I Got Here” category to follow in this story.