Welcome to Portraits of Fatherhood: We’re telling the story of today’s dads.
There is no better place to witness the changing roles of men and women in the larger culture than through the lens of parenthood. But rather than speculate on what and how contemporary fathers do what they do, we’d like to bring you portraits of the dads themselves. In their own words. Would you like to be interviewed for this feature? See the end of the post for details.
NAME Christopher Sansone
HOMETOWN / WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW? San Francisco Bay Area
ON THE WEB www.theparentalshift.com
NUMBER OF CHILDREN Two (ages 1 and 2)
WORK I work Full Time and My Superstar Wife is Part Time
RELATIONSHIP STATUS Married
HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY? How have you, or you and your partner (if you’re partnered), arranged your life/schedule to provide the daily care for your kid(s)?
Shift work can be both a blessing and a curse. I work from noon to 10 pm, Monday – Thursday, and my wife works on Thursday and Friday as a teacher. This has been great for us because it means we only need daycare on Thursdays. And, since my shift doesn’t start until noon, I’m able to spend every morning with the boys and take them to daycare on Thursday. It also means I get to fly solo with them on Fridays, which I have to say I really enjoy.
The downside is that four nights a week, I’m not home for dinner nor do I get to put them to bed. The difficulty is twofold: selfishly, I’m not around my family during a time of day that I truly cherish; and my wife is left unassisted to get a one and two year old fed, bathed and in bed (which is no easy task).
HOW HAS PARENTING CHANGED YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL?
I don’t feel that becoming a parent has necessarily changed who I am as an individual, but it has certainly caused me to shift my focus. I still have the same interests, the same job, and the same friends that I had prior to having kids; however, their priority in my life has been shuffled a bit since becoming a parent. For example, before we had the boys my wife and I would frequently spend the day wine tasting (Napa is only about an hour drive away) followed by a nice dinner. We don’t enjoy these things any less now that we have kids; we just do it far less frequently as our priorities for how we spend our time have changed.
To me, having kids is like buying your first house: you spend more money every month than you used to, you worry about things that never concerned you before, and you have a new tax write off, but at the end of the day you are still you.
IF PARTNERED, HOW HAS PARENTING AFFECTED YOUR RELATIONSHIP? How often do you have sex? Is it enough? How do you communicate differently (if at all)?
Overall, parenting has had a very positive effect on our relationship. That’s not to say that there was anything wrong with it to begin with, nor that having kids has made us perfect, but the boys have certainly brought us closer and given us something truly unique to bond over. With such young children, you can imagine that a great number of our conversations are centered on our kids. Fortunately, we have been on the same page thus far on how to raise them so when we do talk about the boys, they’re positive discussions rather than arguments.
As to the romance aspect of our relationship, between chasing around a 2 year old and an increasingly mobile 1 year old, my work schedule, and our recent addiction to Downton Abbey (two more seasons and we’ll be caught up!), we don’t have the time or energy that we once had for sex. With that said, we have made sure to set aside time to be together as we both know it’s an important part of our relationship.
WHO ELSE PROVIDES CHILDCARE FOR YOUR CHILDREN? Do you have unpaid family or friends providing help or do you have paid nannies/babysitters/au pairs/childcare?
We have paid daycare one day a week and are fortunate to have both of our parents close by to provide help when needed.
WHAT IS YOUR WORST PARENTING MOMENT?
I am at my worst as a parent when I lose my patience. Prior to having kids, I would have thought this was a ridiculously obvious statement but now I see that being patient can be a constant struggle. For me, the biggest challenge has been to recognize when my patience is low and then make a conscious effort to raise that level when interacting with the boys.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST PARENTING MOMENT?
I feel I am at my best as a parent when I am completely focused and engaged with my boys. Again, an obvious statement, but one that is easier said than done. When I am distraction-free, when I can shut out life’s disruptions and just be with them, we have some of the best moments.
We’re looking for a few good dads.
IF you’d like to be interviewed for this feature, please write to Lisa Duggan at: [email protected]
Please write “Portraits of Fatherhood” in the subject line.