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 Matt Zelehowsky
HOMETOWN / WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW? From Auburn, NY. Live in Rochester, NY
NUMBER OF CHILDREN Two
WORK Full-time, healthcare management
RELATIONSHIP STATUS Married
I’m 35. Father of two bouncing girls. I work full time and my wife is a work-at-home mom.
How do we do it? We just do.
We’re a bit of a go-with-the-flow household. I grew up in a huge family. Three brothers and over 30 cousins. I’ve been around kids my whole life. My wife came from a small family, and worked in early education before we had kids. So, we had a decent idea going in but holy cow, when they’re your kids its a whole ‘nuther ball game.
We have a great, local support network of family and friends. And my wife. She has so much more patience than I naturally do. We challenge each other to up our game and are constantly each other’s ying. When I’m down, she’s the clear minded one and when she’s done, I break out the smile.
I’d like to say we’re in a stride but there’s always something. Money. The trots. Teething. The dogs ate something precious. We’re getting really good at prioritizing and rationing; thoughts, fights, energy, time.
As the girls get older, things will keep changing. Bigger kids, bigger problems, right? Right now it’s potty training. Tomorrow it’ll be driving and things I never had to deal with growing up in a house full of boys.
How are we combining life plus parenthood? It’s hard. Our date nights are few and far between. Our passions are still our passions. We’ve just molded a bit to accommodate wee little baggage.
I love traveling and have my wife hooked as well; our three year old already has some stamps in her passport. We don’t shy away from taking our girls with us to restaurants, museums, or anywhere we go. It may not always be the most sane and we do get frowns, though we feel strongly about our kids learning to be a part of the world and how to act in it.
It helps that the girls are fairly mild mannered, we hope we had a hand in that, nature wise or nurture.
I’ll tell you what though. Juggling work and life and wife and kids is insane. Modern dad-dom has set some pretty high expectations. Even though my wife is home with them, I’m at every doctor appointment, every care event, expected to be fully ON when I do get home (God forbid I’m running late) and it’s only going to get more intense as they reach school age.
I am blessed that my employer has strong life/family values and supports my at-home schedule. It can make for a pressure box after bedtime though; just because I left the office early, no one else is doing my job… which means those after 8pm emails are coming out of my wife’s time allocation.
And that’s the part that probably needs the most work, on my part. I don’t feel that I have been able to keep my wife’s half of my time whole. When it’s 50% work. 50% kids. 50% house/bills/chores/repairs. Something always has to get cut short. There’s never enough time left for her… day by day. I try. My story continues.
From Rochester, NY.
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.