This Father’s Day 2021, I’ve invited Jeremy Smith, the co-creator of the Mindful Return Working Dad Course, back to the blog to share his reflections in the wake of a year of #pandemicparenting. With him, I celebrate all the dads who put one foot in front of the other to make it through this ridiculously difficult year. (Also see his prior Father’s Day post, reflecting specifically on chaos – still as apt today as it was in 2019.)
Mamas who read this blog: will you share this piece with the amazing dads in your life?
Father’s Day 2021 is different. You feel it. I feel it. We all feel it.
Whatever occurred in your life over the past year was new territory. It was new territory for all of us.
So most importantly, Happy Father’s Day 2021 – you earned it.
Within companies and more broadly across the news-o-sphere we heard about the new demands put on all of us. And about how we rose to the challenge to be as effective as ever.
I will humbly admit that I was just as productive working remotely in 2020 as I was in the office throughout 2019. We accomplished more than I thought we could and handled radical change in stride. But it wasn’t free.
There was a cost.
Father’s Day 2021 gives us a chance to appreciate being parents and to reflect on our performance in the most important role we have. While I was just as good of an employee in 2020, I’m not sure I was as good of a parent. That is a difficult thing to internalize. But honestly, I’m giving myself a pass. (As Lori says, blame COVID.) And I’m giving you one too (not that you’re asking).
To have made it through the past 12 months alone is an accomplishment. To have done it as a parent deserves a medal. There were times when I feel like I wasn’t a great father. But when that feeling creeps in, I remind myself that helping my family navigate the past year was the goal. That alone is worth celebrating.
Getting through, even if we weren’t thriving, is more than enough. The words exhausted, confused, and frustrated come to mind. Every single aspect of daily life became complex and abnormal. Whatever life/work balance meant before was shattered and rebuilt under a raincloud of uncertainty.
And yet, here we are; changing diapers and building forts.
As a parent, the weight of expectations can be overwhelming. We must provide this… Be sure our kids are getting enough of that… These things all have consequences! What are the repercussions in the future for all of the difficulties over the past year!?!?
Whatever they are, I know that the best thing we can do is love and appreciate where we are now. And treasure the time we have with our kids. It’s going to go faster than we think.
So congratulations for having weathered the storm of 2020, you brave fathers! I wish you the best as we look forward to what can only be a return towards some sort of norm. Where stepping on a Lego is once again noteworthy.
Jeremy Smith is a father of two (ages 6 & 4), employed in the finance sector. Following the birth of his son in 2017, Jeremy took paternity leave and broadly shared the experience with the goal of normalizing extended leaves for fathers. In the time since, Jeremy partnered with Lori to co-create the Mindful Return Working Dad Course and remains a paternity leave advocate.
Want more practical tips on working parenthood? Check out my book, Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave