It's such a simplistic saying, but it holds a lot of wisdom. We live in an escapist society. As soon as we encounter hardship and challenge we look to flee from responsibility, conflict, hard work, marriages, and jobs. We figure the grass must be greener elsewhere. We fall back into thinking of ourselves before others. We can flee to fantasy, new opportunities, drugs/sex/alcohol, or any perceived fresh start. I won't argue that each can't play some ameliorating role, but how about you just keep showing up? Of course that is only half of the story, but it shows your desire to work on the other half. You have the rest of your life in order to get the other half right.
Recalling my college days, I was never a stellar student. I was the typical "try to get the most from the least" type of student. But what I had going in my favor was I showed up to all my classes. I paid attention. Just by showing up at all my responsibilities, I had a significant advantage over my peers.
Recalling my early work years, I would also say I wasn't the most brilliant worker. But by showing up every day, with a willingness to learn and do my part, I was always a benefit to any business at which I worked.
In my marriage, it could certainly be argued that I have room to improve as a husband. And yet, every day I show up for 'work'. I will gladly face those challenges the rest of my life. Yes, I work too hard these days. I spend too many hours at my computer. But I try to be responsive any time when things arise. All I need is the communication and I will try to accommodate it.
A good friend shared a story with me yesterday that I thought I would share here as well. She works with children and was speaking to a mom that it was important for her to 'actively engage in a playful/social manner' with her child 20 minutes each day. The mom looked shocked and stated, "20 minutes, that's a long time, I'm really busy, I'm a single parent and I work!" She discussed breaking the 20 minutes into smaller segments- say two 10 minute periods but I insisted that 20 minutes a day total was what was required to build and maintain relationships with her child (as per research).
My friend is also a working mother. She then examined her own life. "I thought to myself, wow, can it really be that hard to do? That night I went home and looked at my own life. How much time do I spend with XXXXX and XXXXX - truly actively engaging in a playful manner? I give orders, listen (passively) to their stories, help with homework, make meals, do chores, tuck them in and help when requested - but how much do I truly engage them in a meaningful, social, playful activity? Not 20 minutes on most days - not even 5 most weeks. Why not, because I work - I have to work - I support the family - but what am I teaching them about family, what's important and what being successful and happy really means?
She is a strong woman who I admire greatly. She is also a great mom. The challenge of 'showing up' exists for her as much as it does for me. Your kids don't need a specific agenda, they need you. Your wife doesn't expect perfection, but that you show up and care. Your boss or teacher may want the ideal, but they are more than happy to have someone who shows up and does their part reliably.
I don't have all the answers for how you do the other half ideally, but I can say that you will always be ahead of the game if you just show up every day willing to give of yourself. The world will be more forgiving when it can count on you.