Sunday, January 10, 2016

Interview with an Awesome Dad – Olivier Day

Name:                                                  Olivier Day
Twitter:                                                @olivierday
Other Social Media:                   (my main hub)
Kids (age):                                          Orélie, 2 / Noah (arriving January 2016)

What is the best part of being a father?
Reaching that point of unequivocal selflessness that will influence every decision you make going forward. When you come to terms to with the fact that it's NOT about you. To realize there is someone out there who relies on your presence, guidance and love every day is both intimidating and motivating as well.

What are the most important qualities you want to teach your children? Why?
Self-reliance, for one thing. The ability to trust her gut, wit and natural instinct. Dependency is a crutch. She should never be too proud or afraid to ask for help, but also be in a position to rely on her own abilities in order to figure things out for herself and achieve her goals.

Another one is humility, most definitely. To always be grateful for what she has. Life is a minefield of unpleasant circumstances but also some very rewarding ones. She should embrace each and every one as a learning opportunity as these are what shape us as individuals. She should not burden her path with doubt and regret but instead, simply aim to do her best, be on time, and remain respectful at all times.

Finally, self-esteem. I have a daughter so this comes from a personal place – no matter how far we've come in the scope of Women's Lib, I believe it's still a very harsh world for girls and women out there. She's going to face issues that neither I nor her mother can prepare her for (cat calling, hypersexualization, potential sexual assault, body image & health issues, gender inequality...) I may be painting a picture of Daddy Apocalypse, but these are not things I can simply ignore. She should know that she matters, she is worthy, she is precious, she is smart, and she is beautiful. And let there be not a single ill-willed soul to attempt to convince her otherwise.

What is your best quality as a dad (What makes you an Awesome Dad)? What do you want to work on?
 "Daddy does hair" for one thing – not taking away from all the awesome things he's done for us, but my father did NOT do my sister's hair. For my part, I don't view fatherhood as defined by a particular set of gender-specific tasks. I make a conscious effort to do pretty much anything that allows me to be a part of her life and well-being. I work long hours so what little time I have before daycare or before bedtime is dedicated to her. I make it a priority to be involved, so she knows her dad is always reliable – and that's what matters.

Improvements? Like I said – I work a lot. And it will happen for me to bring my work home (both mentally, and physically). So I'll find myself being less patient with her, as I might be dealing with the stress and anxiety of the day – that's when I'll reach out to my wife and signal her for a quick 5mn-break as she runs interference and allows me that unwinding time. Need to set better boundaries.

Favorite activity with your children?
When the weather's good, there's this bench not far from our house. She wakes up super early on the regular so sleeping in on weekends is a Purple Unicorn I've long since stopped chasing. While her mom stays in bed, I dress her up, and we'll go for a walk in the neighborhood to and from what has become "our bench".

Best moment as a dad?
*Driving home after picking her up, lost in my thoughts, one o'those days...*
- Daddy, are you sad?
-A little bit
-Daddy has a lot on his mind, trying to make sense of it all. Sometimes, daddy just doesn't know.
-I don't want you to be sad, daddy. I'm gonna ask Baby Jesus to bring out the sun so you can feel better.
*Drops mic*

(Honorable mention) That "I love you, daddy" that you really didn't expect and stops you dead in your tracks because you know it's genuine.

If you could give ONE piece of advice to someone who is about to become a father, what would it be?
Kids don't ask to be born. It's not about you anymore. The quicker you accept that, the better you can enjoy and build on this amazing new relationship.

What is the best advice you’ve received about becoming a father? The worst?
The first year is always rough, and for us it was no different. Add up a recent both my wife and our daughter dealing with a catalog of health issues, it was especially hard. On the subject of dealing with tantrums that blow up at those times when you REALLY don't need them, a colleague (with 4 kids of his own) told me " can be assholes – but they can't defend themselves. If you feel the exhaustion building up and the frustration getting to you...put her in a safe place, turn the monitor on...and walk away. Go to your basement or the kitchen, and breathe it out. You're not perfect, but don't be a menace."

Worst advice ever? Not really 'advice' per say, but more of an unwelcome if not offensive comment - You be the judge: "You already got her pregnant. You did your part, didn't you?" Goes to show you how inconsiderate certain people can be and how little value they put to the role of a father.

Do you have any fatherhood role models? Who and why?
 As cliché as it sounds, I have to tip my hat in respect to my own father. I grew up in Haiti, and his job took him on the road a lot. I can't imagine, in a time before WhatsApp, or even phones in every household, what it must have been like to go days on end without talking or seeing your wife and young children. He didn't have an easy childhood himself and life threw him some pretty nasty curveballs over the years. But that never steered him from always being there for my siblings and I when we needed him. Through discipline and wise nurturing, he's always held us to a higher standard of achievement and personal growth, and still does actually as he's one of the smartest guys I know. Never failed to remind me as I was growing up that a man/father/husband "...should be the pillar on which on his wife and children can lean on."  Those are some healthy and empowering words to live by. I'm grateful for their resonance as they come from a man whose example of patience, courage, love and stoicism taught me that nobody has it all figured out, but you can always do better.

(Honorable Mention) My father-in-law - A man I hold in high regard for the example he’s shown me with his devotion and sacrifice for his family, to which he’s welcomed me. A man of simplicity yet great dignity. Quite the patriarch, nothing pleases him more than a delightful dinner surrounded by his family. Indeed, what more can you ask for? Can you think of anything more precious?

Any embarrassing moments as a dad (aka Dad Fails)?
Locked myself out of the house once. Good thing we taught her how to open doors. After a grocery run with her, brought her in. Went back to get the bags – realized I locked myself out.

What is your biggest fear as a father?
 The usual suspects: missing out, not doing enough, letting them down. I think every dad, bottom-line, just wants to make sure he's done "all right".

Fast forward 20 years. What would you want your child to say about you as a dad when they look back at their childhood?
 "We always knew we were loved. He made sure of that."

Anything else you want to say? Funny story? A Dad quote?
A father is not just 'the other parent'. Be reliable and loving, not perfect.

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