Sept. 19, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Why I Put My Political Career on 'Operational Pause' | Commentary

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Itís up to each member, and the voters, to decide what an appropriate length of service is, Griffin writes.

I love serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, and I have especially enjoyed my time on the Ways and Means Committee. Serving the people of Arkansasí 2nd District is the honor of a lifetime, and Iím grateful for the opportunity I have been given by my fellow Arkansans.

I grew up when ďSchoolhouse RockĒ taught millions of American kids how a bill becomes a law. During my childhood, my father, a Southern Baptist minister, and my mother, a teacher, made sure I took educational trips to cities such as Washington, D.C., Williamsburg, Va., Philadelphia and Boston to learn about Americaís history. I trace my interest in politics and government back to those days, and I think of them often as I climb the steps and walk the halls of the Capitol.

Folks often ask me what has surprised me the most about serving in Congress. To be honest, there have been very few surprises. With 10 years of experience in Washington as a staff member on Capitol Hill and beyond, I generally understood what the job entailed and what the pressures were like.

The decision not to seek re-election was an agonizing one for my wife and me, but we know itís the right one. Iíve talked with several former members who made similar choices, and they all said the same thing: I will not regret having more time with my young family.

When I was elected in 2010, my daughter was 3 years old and my son was only a few months old. As I settled into the weekly routine of flying back and forth to Washington, I missed my wife and children, but my time away didnít fully register with our kids.

Thatís changed as theyíve grown older ó fast. Now, Mary Katherine, my daughter, knows when Iím not around to help with homework. She knows when Iím not there for tennis, and John, my son, knows when Iím not there for soccer. Thankfully, my wonderful wife, Elizabeth, continues to keep things together when Iím gone.

Still, every time I walk out the door now, even if Iím just getting the newspaper, John asks me, ďDad, are you coming back?Ē

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