I told my wife I was going to start a “daddy blog”. I think she thought I was joking, but who can blame her seeing as the the first name I pitched to her for the blog was “Fatherhood and Fart Noises”. After she realized I was being serious we had a great conversation about what I should write about and why. We talked about fathers we know that could contribute and she schooled me on mommy blogs and their intricate equations for success. I want to analyze my role as a father and like everything I do, I want to be good at it. So often we are shown what NOT to do or be as a father but we don’t spend enough time talking about how to do it better. I promise I don’t have all the answers but I’m really good at asking questions. So here we are.
This is how I see myself in the context of this blog:
I’m a very proud papi!
I became a dad in December of 2014. My son was born 5 weeks preterm and spent nearly 3 weeks in the NICU. After 35 hours of labor, the first moments I spent with him (see picture above) were backlit by a heat lamp with the sounds of ventilation machines and chatty nurses. It was like being in the eye of the storm, all the questions and concerns and uncertainty vanished for a few minutes and I got to introduce myself and let him say his part. 18 months later, I can’t remember life before him and can’t fathom life without him.
The birth of my son was also a trigger for me. For my anxiety and for my depression. I’m a high-output hypomanic (pretty classic “creative” type) and all my coping mechanisms and behavioral tricks became useless. My sleep schedule had been blown to pieces, my attempts to avoid processed foods thwarted, even remembering to take my vitamin cocktail was hard. The “rules” that I so desperately needed were replaced by some type of domestic anarchy: eat whatever you can find, sleep when no one can see you and focus every bit of energy and emotion on protecting the golden child.
How do I maintain sanity and evolve as a father?
We’re in this together.
When it comes to parenting, there is nothing I expect my wife to do that I wouldn’t do myself: brave public restrooms to change diapers, splash around in a tub full of rubber duckies and the occasional turd, pace the halls at 3am trying to hum Led Zeppelin to get the kid to sleep, clean and successfully reassemble a hospital grade breast pump, perfect the lactation cookie recipe and attend every doctor’s appointment possible. We apply the same theory to the rest of our relationship. In the big picture and as teammates, we are equals. She educates me on social justice, white privilege, and Dance Moms while I try to teach her about 90’s punk rock, web analytics and European futbol. We take turns listening to gripes and grievances and we thumb wrestle to see who gets to pick what we watch on Netflix.
We also argue and complain and get on each other’s nerves. We’re both very passionate people and I am definitely guilty of letting my emotions get the best of me. I know I need to work on my tone, my temper and my love for playing devil’s advocate. I would say that communication is our biggest strength but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that sometimes it’s one of our weaknesses.
Can I better myself as a partner and ensure I’ll be a positive role model for my son?
The job that pays the bills.
I have more than a decade of experience in digital marketing, web design and user experience. At a global agency located in downtown Chicago I manage a team of creatives that are forced to listen to my stories and smile at every new picture of my mini. I’m fortunate to have a job that affords me plenty of time off and the understanding that sometimes life happens. I genuinely enjoy going to work everyday and feel blessed I can say that I love my job.
That said, I do struggle with the concept that my career trajectory could be directly affected by my desire to be an active dad. I don’t think the “daddy track” should be detrimental to careers, education or aspirations. I struggle with defining career goals that might mean I have to miss swim lessons or piano recitals. I believe there is an attainable balance but don’t feel comfortable saying I’ve found it. If the stars aligned and we could afford the change, I would be a stay-at-home dad in a heartbeat.
Is there a sustainable balance between my career and life as a family man?