I’m a different kind of dad.
Some days, I wear polished wingtips to client meetings to talk key messages, punchy headlines and PR strategies. Other days I’m barefoot, hunkered over my iPad pounding out feature stories, creative briefs and communication plans.
To borrow the words of children’s author and illustrator Todd Parr, “Some daddies work at home. Some daddies work far away.”
In 2003, I was the daddy who worked far away.
I was traveling for long stretches and working on exciting projects. We had just one girl at the time, but I was missing out on her 2-year-old adventures and mischievous milestones, like when she threw away a camcorder or drank toilet water. Secretly, I wanted to be the daddy who worked at home, so I started dreaming and planning.
Jonathan and his three girls on Father's Day 2013.Back then, I remember thinking, “I’m given one chance to be the best father possible, so I better get this right.”
In late-2004, “work-at-home” became the new normal for our family, as I joined Michele full-time at our PR and marketing firm. Since then, we’ve added two more daughters, and I’ve been around to photograph their ordinary days, comfort their boo-boos, mediate their quarrels, and keep them focused on their chores. We’re still working on those chores.
When I hear them chatter in the kitchen about their day or watch them ride bikes in the cul-de-sac with their sitter, I smile. My workday might start a little earlier and extend later into the evening than most, but I wouldn’t trade a thing.
I’m one of the lucky dads. There are so many fathers (and mothers) who serve our country abroad and don’t see their children as often as I do. I realize that I’m blessed.
Thanks to trusting clients, a dedicated team of co-workers, Virtual Private Networks, conference call lines, secure Extranets, Wi-Fi hotspots, and my smart phone, I’m able to work just about anywhere, and I likely have.
On Sunday, as our 9-year-old presented me with a handwritten Father’s Day note (below) in her best cursive, I knew that I made the right decision to be a different kind of dad. But I’m still trying to get it all right.