A sunny Saturday morning beckons through the window of Clarence’s home office but he is busy finishing his end of quarter reports. The work needs doing. The work keeps him and his family, a wonderful wife and three amazing kids, in their comfy suburban home in a good school district. The work lets him save for their college education. The work lets them afford for everything they could want or need. The work is a small price to pay to know they are cared for.
He does not give it much thought, his earlier exchange with his youngest, the bright-eyed child smiling up at him with the football in his hands and then frowning as he explained to the boy that he is busy. One day he will understand, and he even does a little now. A shrug and an exaggerated, resigned nod, the kind only a five-year old can pull off, and the boy is outside with his elder siblings, running around. The work is a small price to pay to know that they can do that.
It was only supposed to consume a couple of hours, but two turned to three, turned to four. Summer fun called to too many of his subordinates and their work was passable, but shoddy. Not worth an immediate lecture, but they will remember come time for their reviews. The work is a small price to pay for the luxury they enjoy.
The reports are bleeding into a fifth hour now, and Clarence knows there is work left to do. He has chores afterward, the sort of tasks his wife does not have the time, or raw muscle for during the week. She does so much day in and day out to keep the family healthy, physically, mentally, and emotionally that mowing the lawn is the least he can do. The work is a small price to pay to keep it all going.
Then he sees her across the street. Janice Mayweather, attorney, head of the PTA, chair of the community theater, and all around power mom. She is playing hide and go seek with her kids. Clarence looks out the side window to his children, puts the computer in sleep mode, and remembers what the work is paying for.