Yes, I believe that early on, I may have been a sucker. I always truly loved my work, but not always the circumstances. In my earlier days, after becoming a widower at 35, I often took my young sons to work with me at night, and they would sleep on the floor in my office. That may not have been the best thing. All throughout my 42 years in IT, it seems that the norm was more than a 40 hour week, often by far. However, the sons both are now in IT careers of their own, so it must not have been too bad for them.
It is truly difficult to balance work, career and retirement preparation with family. But the rewards were there in the long run. One of the best was when my employer, following a particular project requiring lots of dedication, presented my wife and myself with a pair of round-trip tickets to vacation in Hawaii. She and I are now enjoying the fruits of our labor and are blessed with the efforts we expended 'being suckers'.
Incidentally, I never was in an IT position that paid extra for extra hours. The trip was the only time there was anything extra over and above pay, regular vacation, and retirement contributions.
Hang in there and do what is takes - but always within reason. Be sure to take care of yourself and your family.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
- L. DaVinci