A Father's First Reflection
I often think back to my reception of the news that Lindsay and I were pregnant. I am certain that my face could - at best - be described as shocked. It's not that I wasn't ecstatic. I was! It's certainly not that I didn't envision myself being a father. I've always wanted a large family (and still do)! However, between sixteen credits of law school every semester, my engineering career occupying thirty-five hours a week, and big plans to expand Knots... I really wasn't sure how I would find the time to be the best dad possible.
At that point in my life, my vision of fatherhood was as idealistic as it was foolish. Prior to becoming a dad, I wanted to abandon all of my flaws. Stop cursing, eliminate all sources of anger and frustration from my life, and be in terrific physical condition. I think this is a credit to my own dad and father-in-law, who always seem composed and prepared for whatever life has in store. However, in that moment, it became painfully clear that my first experience as a father was going to be less than graceful. I knew that fatherhood - for me - was destined to be burdened by stress, a couple of extra pounds, and many other demands that would compete with my daughter for my attention every day.
This was a painful realization because I have always prided myself on being both a provider and example for my family. Heck, my decision to go to law school was primarily motivated by my desire to create a better life for my family, move closer to home, and end the the weekly, cross-country business trips that had become my norm. Over the past few years, I felt like I was being pulled in so many directions, without making real progress in any of them. Now my daughter was destined to meet her father in his weakest and most transitional condition in over a decade. How did that happen?
Fortunately, on my first father's day, I can reflect back on my experience as a father with pride. I am pleasantly surprised with the balance this little girl has brought to my life. Elle provides me with perspective and inspiration every day. She helps me prioritize and gives new meaning to my work. As a person who strives to commit 150% to everything I take on, she has taught me that sometimes, 90% is enough. Actually, she's taught me that even 90% is arguably too much, since the remainder belongs to her. This father's day, I am not only appreciative for Eloise and the perspective she had given me, but for the success that this new perspective has produced. I have found academic and professional success, and am proud to say that this journey has led us home. This little girl has taught me how to work smarter, with a greater effect. Fatherhood has changed my life in a way that is as natural as it is productive, and I have Elle to thank for that.
Of course this reflection has a connection to Knots, as all of our ramblings must. Without balance and prioritization, our labor is fruitless. I don't limit that term to mere fiscal success. Rather, a project like Knots must be fulfilling on a personal level. I would never want to simply sell neckties. I would likely find zero satisfaction in such a materialistic, exclusively commercial endeavor. If it was just about making money, PJ and I would have given this up a long time ago. But, selling ties that are inspired, tell a story, and help folks we truly believe in change the world? Sign me up for that project every day of the week. This year, I had the privilege of seeing PJ leave his own unique imprint on the brand, and I am so proud to have introduced a charity that is close to his own heart and home. I think that's what Knots (and fatherhood) is all about. Doing our best, so that we might inspire others to be better.
Yet, we're not able to do that if simply work without reason. That reason might be raising money to support families with children battling cancer, or it may be providing the very best life for a tiny girl, with beautiful, big, blue eyes. Let your life be motivated by something deeper, and you will certainly be proud of the things (and people) you create.