If you have people in your life that you care about, you should quit your job.

Ok, that was a little strong. But, for me, losing my job was probably the only way that I was going to be able to really know my children, and become better acquainted with my wife.

It began on the first workday of "the new millennium" or the first workday of the year before the new millennium, however pure you want to be. They called my co-worker and said "We're thinking about getting rid of him". "Don't do it!" was his reply. But they did.

They had cut the handyman the week before and they cut half of their staff shortly afterwards, so it wasn't anything I had or had not done, as far as I could tell. But, now I was out of a job the day before I planned to leave for two weeks on a trip to Indiana to celebrate my father's 60th birthday.

[Alexis, My Wife]So, I was able to help Alexis get ready to go the next day. And we were able to leave at our leisure, more or less. I wasn't too worried. The month before, VA Linux had let me in on their IPO, so we had enough money for a while. I had marketable skills and I have friends around town. I didn't see anything to be worried about really. Of course, Alexis wasn't so sure, but she kept it to herself mostly. I had called her right after they called me and let her know what had happened. She sounded worried at first, but when I assured her that everything would work out, she seemed to calm down.

[My Mother]My mother was a different story. After we returned from our trip, she called almost ever other day to ask if I had found a job yet. And I was hardly looking! I let a friend at another company know that I was looking and he said they had openings, so I just said "Ok, let's sit for a bit and see what happens." They interviewed me and seemed positive, but they took their own sweet time in getting back to me. And, in the meantime, I managed to worry enough to send out some more resumes.

The job that I eventually got, though, was not one that I looked for. A friend of a friend emailed me and a week and half later, I was back at work. About that, I can only say that God provides.

[My Father]In between not looking for a job, I was working on everybody.org or some programming project, or my house. I was trying to fulfill my work-a-holic gene that I inherited from my father. In a fit of angry hubris, I managed to almost take my finger off with a table saw. Let me tell you: nothing slows you down like chopping off body parts.

[Basil!]When I found I couldn't really work on the house or on my computer like had before I was at home, around my family. I got to know them, and they got to know me. Basil started to get off his mother's lap and come sit on mine! When I eventually started leaving for work, he seemed to jump up and down (as much as a one-year-old can) from excitement. My three-year-old, Ginger, was a little more reticent than that, but even she seemed to enjoy having me around.[Ginger!]

So, because I lost my job, I found my family. I no longer worked so work no longer provided an excuse for me to say "I have no time". It helped me to understand that family is not about activities or the things you do together as a family (although, there are things that I believe you should do); being a family, I discovered, is about one thing: time.

It starts when the children are born and begin to grow, but I believe that as I give more and more time to them, they will give more time to me. The interesting thing about this is that time provides the opportunity to impart values, thoughts, ideas, and philosophy. But, even as my children grow older and develop their own paradigm for life, I will still be able (hopefully!) communicate with them and appreciate who they are.

This brings a whole new meaning to the phrase "Time is of the essence". It is essential that I spend time with my children in order to appreciate them as separate individuals from myself, as people who will grow and develop their own life and habits. The time I spend with them will give that life and those habits a form, a direction, but they will inevitably change the direction what I give them to fit themselves.