HOMETOWN / WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW? Montclair, NJ
ON THE WEB The Fathers Lounge.com
* Editor’s Note * William has built an online resource just for fathers. From their About page:
“…The Fathers Lounge is a community run by dads, for dads, about being a dad. This is where we can get things that are relevant to us. Think of it as the bar you can hang out in and talk to other guys about how they deal with evercything that comes their way. You supply your own beer, we’ll get the conversation started and we’ll take it from there.”
NUMBER OF CHILDREN One
DAY JOB Editor-in-Chief www.TheFathersLounge.com, Marketing Advisor
RELATIONSHIP STATUS Married
FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOK What children’s book is a favorite in your house and why? What book has made a great impact on you or your kids? Was there/ is there a story that was passed down from generation to generation?
My all time favorite is The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. I can’t wait until my 5 year-old boy is a little older to read it to him.
My favorite book to read to my son for the past couple of years: Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire. I loved this book when I was a kid. It’s about a leopard that can change its spots (although he kind of looks like a bear) and do all these great things, but needs to find a place he can call home where people will appreciate him. Of course, that’s what it’s about. What you read is just plain fun and funny.
HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY?
We tag team constantly. My wife gets his lunch ready, I get him dressed for school. I bring him to school, she picks him up. If I have an evening obligation, she takes him and if she does, I’m with him. I work with a lot of start-ups, so my workday never really ends, but I do get to work from home a lot. So I stay in my study until about 6, go down for dinner, play for a bit, and when she gives him a bath, I go back to work. On weekends it’s the same, and I work while he naps (thank god for naps!), bathes or sleeps.
So it’s a constant back and forth to juggle two working schedules and a preschooler’s needs, not to mention the strong desire to spend as much time with him as possible.
HOW HAS PARENTING CHANGED YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL?
I think I may have gotten nicer. I spent the 36 years prior to his birth being something between a curmudgeon and a misanthrope. Now, when I deal with annoying people, I can’t help but think about the relationship they had with their parents, how they clearly never listened, are rebelling now and could use a call from their mother.
I’ve also become more cautious – about myself, my son, kids in general. Life is a constant mental projection of how things could take a turn for the worse, so I try to avoid things that are likely to take a bad turn – and this from a guy who used to walk straight to the edge of a cliff and then lean waaaay over the edge to see if I couldn’t go a little bit further.
HOW HAS PARENTING AFFECTED YOUR RELATIONSHIP?
I think maintaining a sense of your relationship when you have a child is incredibly difficult – especially if you both work. The balance between being a couple and being an institution to raise your child is a constant effort. Some days/weeks/months/years you strike the balance, some you don’t.
WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS AS A PARENT AND WHAT ARE YOUR WEAKNESSES?
I understand his joy and wonder for music and storytelling and encourage him to explore it. I can even understand his whininess, since I was a whiney kid myself. But I’m also a workaholic and perfectionist, so I get caught up on my phone or email far too often. He’s even sitting next to me at “his desk” while I write this. He’s my highest priority, but I get sucked into work and then it doesn’t show. And that perfectionism means I won’t let him slack if he doesn’t have the Lego set we’re building just right. I would guess that comes across to him as annoyingly unnecessary discipline – and he’s probably right.
WHAT ARE YOUR SPOUSE’S STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES?
At the risk of getting into a heap of trouble, I’ll answer this: She likes to do things by consensus and make our son a part of the decision making process. While this can be great, and sometimes it truly does make him think about options and consequences, sometimes a parent needs to lay down the law and be the inflexible wall a child will bounce off of.
WHO ELSE PROVIDES CHILDCARE FOR YOUR CHILDREN?
He’s been in daycare and then preschool since he was 5 months old.
For the past few months, his grandfather has taken care of him one evening each week, as we both have obligations at the same time. That has been a great help. In the past, it was often my two older nieces who would babysit or chip in when we needed someone. He had a ball with them, and since I babysat them when they were little, it’s nice to see that relationship and support come full circle.
DO ANY OF YOUR CHILDREN HAVE SPECIAL NEEDS? AND IF SO, HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOUR PARENTING?
He has sensory integration issues that make some basic things a real struggle. Summer is almost here and the need for sunscreen is increasing. I know people with more significant issues, but have you ever tried to put sunscreen on a child with sensory integration issues? It’s a similar kind of fun as root canals and tax audits – lots of complaining and crying. Finding ways to calm him when clothes tags hurt, the world is too loud and life seems like too much is a full-time job and one that requires strategies and solutions that vary daily. It makes parenting even more of a constant problem-solving exercise.
WHAT IS YOUR WORST PARENTING MOMENT?
I never knew a toddler could get so angry. My wife went away for three days when he was 17 months old. While I had given him a bath for his first year, she had taken over and it had been months since I had. Not one for change, he screamed and cried that I was washing his hair, and slipped and slid under the water. He stood up, furious, and I’ll never forget that look of rage that nothing was as he wanted it. I lost my patience with his over-reaction and we ended up yelling at each other. He cried, I was a wreck. It was probably two years before I gave him a bath again. Neither he nor I wanted to relive that moment.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST PARENTING MOMENT?
Do I get to choose one? I’ll wait until my son has his own kids, see what he remembers and take that one.
I do get moments most days that tell me I’m basically doing it right. Every morning for months, my son will jump up and down as I come down the stairs, shouting “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” and then he locks me in a hug. So whatever that best moment turns out to be, I’ll have the memory of hundreds of little moments that will remind me that I did something right to be so unconditionally loved.