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 Taylor García
HOMETOWN / WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW? San Diego, CA
ON THE WEB www.btaylorgarcia.com
NUMBER OF CHILDREN Two
WORK Full time with a 45/55 split of work at home and work in the field.
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)?
I consider myself very lucky to have a field-based corporate position in which I can make my own schedule, however I do have to be out in the field at least three days a week, and there is a decent amount of night and weekend work, as well as out-of-state travel for conferences and conventions that sometimes last a week. When I am working from home or have breaks in my schedule, I am fully “on” at home and share the childcare with my wife, who is a busy stay-at-home mom with a growing property management career. I tend to be the morning and night guy (cooking breakfasts and dinners, giving baths and putting our toddler to bed at night.) My wife is mainly focused on our four-month old, but we alternate. We alternate almost everything so we can each get a break. We don’t have a nanny or a steady babysitter, so it’s all on us. We’ve managed given that we have flexibility in our schedules, but there are those times when you can’t be in two places at once, and so one parent has to hold the fort down. It all balances out in the end.
HOW HAS PARENTING CHANGED YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL?
Parenting has challenged me more than anything I’ve ever done in my life: work, school, bucket-list challenges, etc. have all paled in comparison to the real work of parenting. The “work” is only one side of it though. The patience and mental strength is the second part. Parenting tests all those things daily. You have to get better each day at it because your children watch and mimic everything. You are their only model.
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)?
Our relationship has gotten stronger because parenting has made us work toward a common goal other than ourselves, and has put our personal wants and needs in perspective. My wife and I waited many years to have children, which I believe was a good thing so we could enjoy building our relationship. Now in these hectic times, we’re still having fun and try very hard to get back to “just the two of us” when we can, but there are tense moments and frustration sprinkled throughout. If we don’t agree, we cool off quickly and go back to core of what we are trying to do: raise a family. Communication has to be a priority and though things get bottled up at times, we’re able to get back on each other’s level and remind ourselves that we are in this together. We are more bonded in that we can see what our love has brought forth in the forms of these two beautiful little boys.
WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS AS A PARENT AND WHAT ARE YOUR WEAKNESSES?
My strengths are more the practical, day-to-day tasks. I’m great at keeping mouths fed (literally), clothes washed, house cleaned. I make the grocery lists and do the shopping. I’m also creative with playtime and distracting the kids with physical activities if they’re getting fussy. I know how to make them laugh and smile, which is crucial at this stage.
My main weakness is losing my patience. I tend to have a lot of it, but I can crack sometimes over stupid things and be forceful, which is not good. I always have to remind myself that this child has never seen a computer before so if he wants to bang on the keys for a little bit, that’s okay.
IF PARTNERED, WHAT ARE YOUR PARTNER’S STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES?
My wife has the patience of a saint (she’s a former social worker), so when I’m lacking in that department, she’s the steady. She manages to keep a good attitude night and day, through thick and thin. She’s so loving and tender with our boys. It’s so beautiful.
Her weakness might be that she’s not too focused on those other household things that I seem to own (cooking, cleaning, etc.) She’s more likely to be doing some research or other work at the times when we need to be getting food on the table.
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?
We have occasional help from my cousins who live in town, but other than that, we’re on our own. We did have a series of babysitters before we had our second son so my wife could have some relaxation in the last few months of pregnancy. My mom came to town to stay with us for the first two and a half months after my second son was born. We were worried how we were going to handle it all after she left, but we seemed to have developed our own routines and systems with just the two of us as the main caregivers.
WHAT IS YOUR WORST PARENTING MOMENT?
When my first son was less than a year, we were trying to get him to fall asleep for naps on his own. My wife was out and in trying to get him down for a nap, I decided to let him cry it out, which isn’t even recommended for naps. He cried it out all right—for almost an hour. I went in to find him fast asleep, but with vomit over the side of the crib. #worstparentever
WHAT IS YOUR BEST PARENTING MOMENT?
I consider taking both of my boys anywhere together without my wife a best parenting moment, because I feel empowered and independent. It gives me a glimpse of what it will be like in the not so distant future when it’s just us guys and when Mom needs a break. Right now, with my boys being so little and needy (both are in diapers, one still breastfeeding), even a trip to go pick up tacos is a momentous occasion. One day I’ll take them to the zoo by myself and it’ll be like the planets aligned.
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.