I was out of town on a business trip, and needed to get back for a Mother’s Day “Tea” at my 5-year-old daughter’s school. With multiple airport delays, I traveled half the night to be there. But I made it. Moms received a copy of the “Class Cookbook,” filled with each child’s favorite mom-made masterpieces. My daughter, Lennon, reported that her favorite “specialty” of mine is French Toast Sticks, hand-made from the freezer section at Wegman’s.
I could have been mortified. But it was the best reflection of our reality as two working parents, trying to do the best we can in this crazy thing called life. And I, for one, could not do a damn thing without Kevin, my amazing husband and father to our lovely lunatics, Lennon and Reese.
It’s once again that time of year when fathers get their due—and their day. There aren’t many “Working Father” awards the way there are for “Working Moms,” but the lucky ones among us know that we wouldn’t be where we are without the partnership, support and hard work of our hugely significant others.
Now 48 and married 8 years, with two kids under six, Kevin will tell you that he waited his whole life to be a dad–and he’s not going to mess it up. He’s a former NYC finance guy who co-founded a painting company a few years back. Being his own boss definitely has its perks when it comes to juggling this parenthood thing and I don’t take for granted his flexibility and dedication to our family.
When I was named president of Partners + Napier last Fall, I realized that Kevin and our kids have helped make me not just a better mom, but a better leader--one who strives to lead the agency with empathy, optimism and a big dose of reality.
It’s no coincidence these are traits Kevin and I try and instill in our children, every day. And together, we approach our partnership with two basic principles that keep us grounded (and sane).
First, be a team. And know when it’s time to hand off the ball.
One of our core values at Partners + Napier is team. Being a team means everyone knowing their role and also knowing who to put on the field to win. The same goes at home. In order to juggle the insanity, we have to keep the baton passing back and forth, stepping in when each other needs one another (or might lose their mind).
I’m often doing the planning and booking – the invisible tasks, as they say. But without Kevin, nothing would get done. He empties the backpack at night, scrubs under their nails in the bath and brushes their hair in the morning. And sometimes their teeth, but that’s never worth arguing over. We say at the agency: “The idea is everything and the execution is everything else.” This couldn’t be more true for us.
Second, be a partner. Not a keeper.
When Kevin told me he wanted to start another band (an REM tribute band called Murmur) that would have him playing gigs in places like Buffalo and NYC, I was thrilled. And it astonishes me every time I hear someone say, “I can’t believe you let him do that.”
What a crazy notion. I can’t imagine not supporting someone so important to me. Sure, it creates another layer of complication to our schedules -- but as partners we have to feed each other so we are better humans and parents.
I also believe the world needs more creativity and there’s a huge side benefit of being married to a musician. We have a piano, drums and guitars lying all over the house. There’s nothing quite like a 6am Bowie dance party to bring the family together. Not to mention expend a lot of the kids’ energy.
Kevin is the walking demo of the importance of being all in. And I know it isn’t easy, especially picking up all the slack I leave behind. But when our daughter only wants him to help her get dressed, and our son sleepwalks into our room every morning for snuggles with dad, I smile with pride. The relationship our kids have with their dad is precious and priceless. It makes it all worth it. And he for sure, isn’t messing it up.
So Happy Father’s Day to Kevin – and all the other Working Dads out there. Without you, many of us Working Moms would be just an idealized idea without execution.