Fun-loving Floyd family
Greg Floyd isn’t afraid to get down and dirty, and even though he is dressed for the interview, he seems unruffled by sons Conor, eight, and Ryan, who proudly admits he is “almost three”, climbing over and on him.
He doesn’t mind roughhousing with the boys on the lawn, playing soccer. He loves the fact that there is an open lot next to his house affording him space to fly kites with them – and that when he opens his back door, he is literally stepping onto an 18-hole golf course.
There is a motorcycle in the garage that he uses for long rides alone with his thoughts every weekend. He says that he had to buy it here because he could not bring one during the move to Barbados last September. It doesn’t take much to make Greg happy – and one such thing is searching for the perfect beach with wife Kathryn McTigue-Floyd and the two boys.
“We love heading to the beach on the weekend to enjoy Barbados’ beautiful water and sunshine. Our ideal day together is trying out a new location in search of the best family beach in Barbados,” says Greg animatedly.
Greg serves as the deputy political/economic chief at the United States Embassy in Wildey. His job entails managing America’s relationship with Barbados and nations of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, encouraging bilateral and regional cooperation in the fight against terrorism and drug-trafficking, and building partnerships to meet other key challenges facing the region and the Western Hemisphere.
He was drawn to Barbados by a love for the Caribbean and the chance to work again with his friend Dr Brent Hardt, with whom Greg had done a previous two-year tour in Nassau, Bahamas. Before joining the Foreign Service, Greg worked for ten years as an attorney representing California schools in labour, employment and education law matters.
During the interview Greg, 41, revealed that in his six-years working for the United States State Department, he has moved four times. His last stint before coming to Barbados was as a consular officer in Shanghai, China.
“Moving doesn’t get any easier. It seems that just as we fully adapt to a new country or culture and just as we establish a good group of friends, we’re asked to move again. And packing up all of one’s things every few years, subject to strict weight limits, is a huge challenge.
“But there are tremendous benefits also, particularly for the children. They have been exposed to different languages, foods, cultures and made friends around the world. That kind of education is something very few get.”
Things that get left behind, agreed upon by both parents, are most often their personal stuff so that they can bring the kids’ playthings and mementos.
“We have a series of photos and cultural items from everywhere we have lived. I know they will appreciate the reminders of their childhood, especially considering how often we move.
“In addition to keepsakes from where we lived, we have mementos of people we’ve met, including President Obama, President Clinton, Secretary of State Rice, Secretary of State Clinton and multiple prime ministers.”
For both Greg and Kate, juggling two kids and work take on two different faces. Pressure at work means the two spend less time together. Married since 1994, they try to schedule time for themselves, such as lunch dates every weekend, and they cherish the hours every night after the children go to sleep when they can catch up on their days and plan their tomorrows.
Kate is now a stay-at-home mum – a sacrifice she made that comes with the territory. She is a trained lawyer and a law librarian but because of her specialized field, she cannot work in most of the countries they have lived in. Kate says the upside of that is, she gets to spend a lot of time with the boys, especially Ryan who starts school next year.
“We have grown really close as a family. I make lots of trips to the beaches with Ryan, who is very energetic and active. Conor is very patient with him. Both boys make friends very quickly.”
Conor is off to school by 7:30 a.m., dad soon after. Ryan spends the day in a whirlwind of activity and is obsessed with cars, so most TV time is usually car-related. By the time dad gets home, Conor is usually finishing homework in time for dinner. After dinner, it’s family time until bedtime.
Greg is of the opinion that he has become a better parent . . . since his overprotective days with Conor he is much more relaxed now, and ”a bit lighter on the rudder than I used to be.”
His family didn’t have much money growing up, says Greg, but his father told him repeatedly that it doesn’t matter where you come from but where you end up, and that anything can be achieved through hard work. These lessons are among the important ones he says he will pass on to his boys.
Greg says he makes an extra effort to be there for special days in his children’s lives, like Conor’s cricket and tennis games, and admits that he sees his family more now than before, when he was a lawyer. Even though they miss out on family occasions when they are on tour because of the distance from immediate family who live in the United States, Greg is grateful that in his position it is possible to work smart to minimize separation and is fortunate that he can telecommute to the office and even to different countries.
Greg has made career sacrifices in refusing jobs that require him to leave his family for a long time:
“The United States has many diplomatic assignments worldwide that are too dangerous for families or lack the amenities to allow children to live comfortably. These are the places where the most good can be done – and it is the dream of a diplomat to be able to make a positive difference in difficult times – but I fear being separated from my wife and children for the needs of public service,” he says, citing the Haiti earthquake and unrest in Egypt as examples of where families could not go.
Greg says he couldn’t do it without his “incredibly patient wife Kate. She’s also sensitive to when I might need some time alone in the evenings, as I try to be with her. I’m blessed to be part of a parenting team with my partner particularly skilled and generous.”