Today we attended my second son’s entrance ceremony at school. Yesterday’s rain had somewhat scattered the cherry blossoms, but today had a clear blue sky.
I no longer felt nervous about being at the school as a parent. We have five boys in our family, which means I’ve got three more ceremonies ahead of me. I feel a little sorry for our fifth sonーI’m afraid there won’t be much excitement left by the time his turn comes around.
That’s how it is. With five children, everything has to be done five times. If they all go to the same elementary school, you can attend events like sports days all at one time, but for enrollment ceremonies, graduations or age-specific festivals (held in Japan for children at the ages of 3, 5 and 7), you have to attend five separate times. Having a lot of kids means setting aside a lot of time for annual functions and events.
Even normal holidays become busier. There are five energetic boys to satisfy, five age groups (from 6 months to eight years old), and five different ideas of fun. I do everything I can to prioritize my family time on days off. When you’re operating a school like mine, however, there will be classes on weekends. The same is true in the venture capital business—companies we invest in occasionally arrange executive meetings on days off. But when days off do come around, all my energy goes into the family. Work is supposed to be exhausting, but for me, days off are even more tiring.
I take them to the park to play catch, soccer, or tennis. We go the pool a lot. We take them skiing in winter. My oldest sons (eight and six) and can ski on their own, but the third son is just four and needs constant supervision. The fourth son is only two, so he sleds and makes snowmen while the baby, just six months old, looks on from his mother’s lap (or mine, when it’s her turn to ski). It’s a lot to look after, even for two people.
Mothers have the toughest time, since they are busy regardless of what day it is. Dads just have to hold their own with the family on days off. Moms get the kids up and dressed in the morning, prepare breakfast or breastfeed, and change diapers, followed by housecleaning, washing, dish washing, cooking lunch, and preparing dinner. In the midst of all this, there are trips to and from school. Then bath time, preparing them for bed and getting them off to sleep—every day of the week.
Then, last Sunday, it all came crashing down: my wife collapsed.
At 11 pm, she started having breathing difficulties. We headed straight for the hospital. At the hospital she lay down on the bed and got hooked up to an IV.
The verdict: she was overworked.
As I traveled back and forth between the hospital and the house where the five kids were waiting, I kept thinking whether I had to be more committed to the family. Having five kids requires more effort on my part to see they are properly looked after. Thankfully my wife’s condition was not serious.
Work is vital, and I have to make sure I have time to do it, but I have to raise the priority of my family. I needed to start separating the things I needed to do and the things I wanted to do.
Every day, I read the Financial Times. As I want to compete in the Japan Masters swimming competition, I go to the pool twice a week. Spending time at the Go club on Wednesday nights is one of my favorite hobbies. I also enjoy a nice glass of wine and classical concerts. I like to see art exhibitions, read books, and travel. Every so often, I head to Roppongi with friends to let off some steam. And of course, every so often I write this column. I sleep, and I take time to do nothing.
The question is, how do you fit all this into twenty-four hours?
Our graduate program started last week, and GLOBIS Venture Capital is right in the middle of raising money for the formulation of GLOBIS Fund No. 3. I’m on the phone meeting with overseas investors nearly every night. I have a meeting this weekend with fellow partners, so those days off are down the drain. Next week, I will be teaching an entrepreneurial leadership class in Tokyo and Nagoya.
There is Yoshito Hori the individual, Yoshito Hori the father, and Yoshito Hori the dean and managing partner. My task is to balance all three.
I once wrote a book about this life equilibrium called Six Dimensions of Life, but writing it down in a book simpleーit’s not so easy in practice. What it comes down to, I suppose, is that outside of work, I must completely devote myself to being a father.