Today, Loretta turns four months old. She is still pretty far from understanding much, but she has been getting a lot better at recognizing our faces, playing with her feet, and using the tiny muscles in her chubby little legs to support the weight of her upper body. I always thought it was bizarre when I heard parents talk about how they wish they could “freeze time” or somehow keep their child from growing older. I remember thinking, “Don’t you want your kid to get to an age where they can talk, walk around, and develop their interests?” I have now come to fully understand this desire to hit pause on development. Our lives have never been busier, and time is flying by at a mind-boggling pace. It would be great to take a breather.
Before Loretta was a mere twinkle in my eye, I was extremely interested in fatherhood. In an effort to gain some understanding of the impact it would make, I remember asking some friends about how it affects work. I love my job, and I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it forms one aspect of my identity. I was curious about how parent responsibilities were going to impact this thing that I’ve poured so much blood, sweat, and tears into. Luckily, my friends had some encouraging thoughts.
I asked Dan Gneiding this question a while back when his daughter was old enough to have a very strong bond to an lemon. Dan was relaying this story about how most kids form attachments to stuffed animals and the like, but for whatever reason, his daughter was so obsessed with the lemon that she named it Blue. I asked Dan if he replaced the curiously named citrus while she slept, so it wouldn’t rot. “What do you think I’m a monster?!” he replied, “Of course I do!” That’s a good dad.
Dan mentioned that his productivity actually went up after the kid came along. I suppose before being a father, there was plenty of wasted time, but knowing that every moment was precious drastically changed the intention and focus with which he worked. I was blown away to hear this, and suspected he surely must be shitting me.
A few years passed and I asked my buddy Ben Kiel. His advice was brief, but powerful. I can’t remember exactly how he said it, but it boiled down to: it changes what you want to work on.
As someone that has spent quite some time exploring esoteric, silly, bizarre, or just generally useless typefaces, I am coming to the realization that my work needs to fall within the center of this venn diagram.
This renewed focus on useful work should happen for a couple reasons: First, I need to make money. This is becoming increasingly apparent with the tremendous pressure of an expensive mortgage, and the multiple people that would rather not be foreclosed upon. I was worried about the cost of our kid, but for the time being, it’s negligible compared to our monthly payments to the bank that owns our house. Secondly, I want fonts to get used. It is always going to be fun working on the Hobeaux Rococeauxs and Eckmannpsychs, but at the end of the day, I hope I can provide a product that makes someone’s life easier.
Both Ben and Dan have been more right than I could have possibly comprehended at the time. I am making huge efforts to look at Twitter and Instagram less, and focus more on stuff I care about: type design, writing on this blog, teaching, and spending a huge amount of time with Sadie and Loretta.
I am fucking up constantly
Of course things don’t go according to plan. I’ve made the mistake of not helping out as much as I should. I look at my phone while I’m holding the baby. I’ve been accused of improperly strapping Loretta into her carseat on more than one occasion. I have gotten in stupid fights with Sadie about money, trips, and being late to events. I’ve had panic attacks about how messy the house is. I’ve even complained to Sadie about being tired after she had been up all night. When I think of these things, I’m extremely comforted by more advice from my buddy Ben: “The first year, your only goal should be keeping the kid alive.”
I hope to do another check-in after I have a year under my belt, and more periodically after that. Although I’m at the very beginning of my journey in fatherhood, I can’t help be hopelessly recommend it to anyone that’s thinking about how a child will affect their career. The growing up has been painful, and working with focus and intention is a sisyphean undertaking. But the refreshing, joyous, and rewarding feelings far outweigh any negatives. Raising the kid isn’t the hard part, it’s doing absolutely anything else that gets difficult. But surprisingly enough, struggle is paradoxically bringing me a lot of joy.