As an 18-year veteran with the Fire Department, Mike Gonzales says the biggest challenge is being away from his family, especially in the summer―when he also responds to wildfires across the United States and can be gone for weeks at a time. When he isn’t fighting fires, he enjoys spending quality time with his “crew” at home.
How do you like to spend your time with your kids?
Mountain biking with the boys, coaching their sports, Rockies games, going to church together, reading aloud every night, throwing the football or playing lacrosse in the yard, working out together, playing cards, camping with family and friends, hunting with our eldest son, and family trips to the mountains or the beach.
How do you balance your schedule to make time for yourself and your family? Each morning I get up at 5 a.m. to work out, read, and prepare for the day. I try to take and pick up the kids from school when I’m off work. My wife loves breakfast, so dates often happen after the kids go to school. I usually run or go mountain biking, and finish errands or yard work before it’s time to pick them up. After school I coach baseball for my oldest or take my youngest son to lacrosse. We try to plan a family outing on whatever day I’m off over the weekend―like a hike or new restaurant to try or spending an evening with my wife. I chose Sunday as my day off, which is reserved for church and family time.
What’s most challenging about your job? The most challenging thing about my job is being gone from my family and then jumping back into our life after the extremes of the firehouse. Some shifts last 48 hours without much sleep, and then I come home needing to be fully present in the role of “dad.”
What has fatherhood taught you? Patience. I’m still learning.
What’s the best parenting advice you”ve ever been given? Everyone says the time goes fast and children grow up in a blink of an eye, so I should embrace all of it, good and bad, and be there. Also, be quick to ask for forgiveness and admit when I’m wrong. I”ve seen my kids follow this example.