What does it mean to provide? To be a provider?

I am the sole provider for my young family, by which is meant that my twice-monthly paycheck as all the pecuniary influx to our familial coffers, and by extension all that lies between us and starvation and death. Unduly melodramatic, of course (when am I not?) but you get the idea. I work long and hard to earn the money we need to pay our bills and eat.

But is that all that it means for me to provide for my family? Is it purely a matter of financing our way of life, making possible whatever standard of living we deem desirable, appropriate and attainable? To put it another way: should I be bringing home anything besides money?

I feel that there should be more to it than that. I feel that I should be bringing home more of my self at the end of each workday; the amount of self I have at home should be greater than the amount of this commodity I have to expend in the workplace. I feel that I should be able to enjoy my family after a day’s work, really enjoy them, not just stumble along behind them for a few dull hours between homing and my bedtime. I should have such work as allows me to keep the greater part of my spirit to live and love.

But at present this is not the case for me. I am continuously drained of all energies. At home I am a broken useless thing, a burden to my dear wife rather than a help and a joy. On my morning way to work I often began to weep involuntarily as the building comes into sight; it is almost more than I can bear to think of, working another long day like like the day before.

This is not, to me, an acceptable circumstance. I need to be happy. My family needs me to be happy. Not giddy every minute of every day, but able to laugh and play and read a story to my son and go for a walk and wash a sinkful of dishes after supper. Able to smile and say, “Well, at work today….” I don’t need a job I love; I do need a job I can like, enjoy, excel at, and do these things with a minimum depletion of my fragile soul’s contents. I cannot afford to pour out my life at work; I have people at home who need me to provide a happy, loving, vibrant husband and father.

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