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June 20, 2021 // //  //       //  Opinion

The Untraditional Father's Day

For as long as I can remember – even when I was a kid – my primary life goal was to be a great father, husband, and son. I had the good fortune of growing up with loving and committed parents who always tried their best to support me, and I measured myself by their yardstick: The ultimate measure of my life, I told myself for years, would be my family's happiness.

Until last year, I felt like everything was on track, albeit in life's typical, not quite linear way. My family had relocated back to Southern California, the place where my wife and I got married years earlier, and we were living a modest but stable life when the pandemic hit. Both of our jobs were impacted, hers more dramatically than mine, but we were still employed, safe in our home, and apart from the same quality of life restrictions everyone was living with, seemingly okay. 

Our "new normal" wasn't ideal, but as a believer in long-term commitment, I was determined to ride out this storm, just like others we'd dealt with in prior years. Unfortunately, the feeling wasn't mutual. In the middle of the pandemic, my kids and I were shocked when my wife announced that she was moving out, then stunned when she moved in with someone else. Going forward, my two young daughters and I would have to navigate a world that suddenly seemed even more unstable than before. 

Circumstances forced me to redefine success. Small victories began to matter because they represented forward progress during a chaotic, sometimes backwards 2020. Spending three minutes helping a child fix Google Classroom problems made a bigger difference than staying completely focused on a work project. Any day was good if it ended with all three of us together, and candidly, not so good whenever it didn't. Over time, small victories built to bigger ones, and the ratio of good to not good days increased dramatically.

It also redefined me as a father. Although I had worked from home for most of my kids' lives and felt close to them, I had also valued "us time" with my wife. Though I wasn't shattered when she left, seeing my girls crying over the changes broke my heart. Their tears became mine. And together, united in determination to move past an awful experience, we rebuilt our family.

On this Father's Day, my relationship with my kids is the best and most loving it's ever been. We adopted the puppy we'd dreamed about since our relocation and used him as an excuse to explore dog beaches and parks outside. Instead of going off into our own rooms to seek quiet after work and school, we started spending more of our free time together. And as quarantine restrictions eased up, our weekends became opportunities for family adventures rather than just more time to sit around the house.

So to all the dads out there facing an untraditional father's day, enjoy it – and if you're not, please know that it can get better. Love your family as much as humanly possible: your kids, partner, parents, and siblings can all make a difference, and you can, too. We may never know for sure what tomorrow will bring, but on this day, celebrate and appreciate what you have, just as your family celebrates and appreciates you. 

Jeremy provides strategic messaging and brand positioning counsel to Allison+Partners clients and internal teams, focusing on written and visual communications. Drawing upon three decades of experience as a journalist and entrepreneur, he proactively identifies unique coverage opportunities, angles, and challenges, building content to maximize client resonance with varied audiences.


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