Dan Ruch | Another Mother Her Way (Father's Day Edition)
For five months of this series, we've heard from super smart women on how they've adjusted their life, relationships and selves in motherhood. Culturally, we are more apt to talk about how women’s lives have changed since having kids but we know there's definitely an impact on men, though it's less common to chit chat about that perspective.
I've talked before about our first baby, my husband's company that keeps him up at night more than our toddler. I've shared a bit about Dan's commitment to us and the process of re-meeting as parents and making time to be a couple outside of parenting. And I've benefited from his natural willingness and ease taking care of Bodie so I can do things like sleep in or get girls nights or weekends away. I write about these things like they're expected but of late I catch myself wondering how he does it. We'll be celebrating Dan on Sunday but I wanted to take this week's AMHW to get a husband and father's perspective on the questions we've been asking ourselves. Here's his untouched (I promise) take.
Q HOW DID YOU CHANGE AFTER BECOMING A FATHER?
Technically speaking of course I created a dependent, which is a wild concept; the fact that there for the first time ever exists another human being who is reliant on you for their survival and wellbeing. That's a dramatic shift in anyone's worldview I would imagine. For me, it was a forcing function to be introspective in terms of the decisions I make on behalf of myself, my wife, and now, my son.
Q WHAT CHOICES DID YOU MAKE TO ACCOMMODATE FATHERHOOD? WOULD YOU MAKE THEM AGAIN?
Being an entrepreneur, the most jarring change for me happened with time management. With the birth of Bodie, a new addition to the world rocketed to the very top of my priority list. So a recalibration was necessary in terms of how I spend my time at home, at the office, nights out with clients, date nights with my wife, etc. I am finding that raising a child is a lot like raising a startup. Both journeys involve emotions of elation, fear, uncertainty, excitement, etc. The big difference for me between father-hood and startup-hood is that (apologies for the stretched metaphor) in fatherhood, I have a co-founder who I not only trust unequivocally, but who I also know with unwavering certainly can do a better job than I can at raising our child. And that was and continues to be the only way I can effectively manage two "startups" at once.
Q DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS A FATHER IN 3 WORDS. WHAT KIND OF FATHER WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE?
Loving. Caring. Distracted.
I really want to improve on that third point. Watching Bodie grow up over the last 18 months has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, but given the attention and focus that my job commands, I find myself worrying sometimes that I am less a participant in Bodie's upbringing and more a spectator. That said, it's all about finding the right balance.
Q HOW DO YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF OUTSIDE OF FATHERHOOD?
I feel strongly that Bodie is a top priority, but importantly he is not the only top priority. My philosophy on this is a bit like why, in case of cabin pressure loss on an airplane, they tell you to put your own mask on first. If you don't take care of yourself, you cannot, neither physically nor mentally, be in a place to take care of others. So I carve out time, as much as I can, for my top priorities:
1. Time alone with my wife
4. Friends and Family
Nothing else matters to me right now.
Q EVERY FATHER NEEDS HELP TO FIND BALANCE. WHAT DOES YOUR VILLAGE LOOK LIKE?
I've got a lot of family (two brothers, a sister-in-law, parents) all living in NYC, they're my village and an integral part of our lives. My older brother has 3 kids (2 girls, 1 boy), so in many ways he's a good sounding board for the path that lies ahead. Otherwise, with a part-time nanny and a weekly housekeeper but most importantly, an incredibly patient and understanding wife who is 100% dedicated to the wellbeing of our son, my village is pretty strong.
Q WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON IMPROVING ABOUT YOURSELF AS A MAN & A FATHER?
Raising a child is hard, and appreciating how hard is nearly impossible when you're not there every day - in the mess (literally and figuratively) of it - you can lose sight of how much work it truly is to raise a child. I live in awe of how my wife leans into parenting with such ease, grace, and enthusiasm, taking pleasure in the littlest things, the smallest glimpses of progress that Bodie makes - virtually imperceptible to anyone but his mother, and how much energy she derives from it. With scrubbing the floors after meals, and the baths, and diaper changes, and all the rest of it - it's not easy, but she makes it look like it is. It's really incredible to watch, and Bodie is lucky to have her as his mom.