Our 253rd Dad in the Limelight is Evan Meck. I want to thank Evan for being a part of this series. It has been great getting connected with him and now sharing him with all of you.
My name is Evan Meck and I’m proud to be a full-time at-home-dad and part-time toddler interpreter. I lived in Orlando, Florida for 23 years and a year after getting married to my amazing wife Melissa, I found myself in Idaho where we’ve lived for almost 8 years. I attended culinary school at a community college in Florida and prior to the decision to be at home full time, I worked in a local bakery doing everything except making tons of money.
Why am I in the limelight? I actually thought a great deal about this answer. The truth is, my story exists out there in so many ways. Despite this feeling sometimes that I’m the only one in my direct area who is a man fulfilling a role that “society” associates with women, it’s unbelievably common nowadays. I’m just a guy trying to offer my perspective to people on being a father and everything that comes along with that responsibility. Between books and the amazing community of Dads out there online, I’ve learned at least two things. 1) I don’t know everything. 2) I know things that I can pass on to other people. My goal is to learn and share.
2) Tell me about your family
My wife Melissa and I have been married for almost 9 years now, and I don’t know what I would do without her. We have two boys. William (3) is our very shy, very quiet troublemaker. He can turn a room into an obstacle course in roughly 15 seconds. It’s fun to watch from a sort of “Wow, look at him go” kind of way, but less fun to clean several times a day (once a day truthfully, still not fun). He was born with a skin tag (small excess bit of skin) near his right ear which combined with a failed hearing test early on made doctors assume his ear had not formed properly. It all ended fine, though William is still quite content to not listen to Mom or Dad throughout the day. Carter (1) is our super-sweet adventure man. He’s very happy to chase around after his big brother and play like a big boy. His hobbies include, stealing the toys that his brother wants and hiding apple sauce in the corners of his high chair seat. Every day is an adventure with those two, and I always look forward to the next one.
3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?
Without question, the decision to stay at home. It was a fairly logical decision to make based on the cost of child care versus our ability to have me stay at home. I am overjoyed to do it, but it was something I was completely unprepared to do. I have no problem with my wife being the provider, it really isn’t that. However, in the discussion of “Let’s have a kid” we never really talked about what would take place after maternity leave. I’m the youngest of three, and simply didn’t spend much time with kids at any point prior to the birth of our first, so taking the leap to professional parent was ultimately terrifying. Instead of being a Dad and a chef/baker/drummer, I’m now…Dad. To me, that’s so much more pressure than making 800 cupcakes in a morning rush.
First off, even if you’ve been a parent for mere moments, you know more than you can possibly imagine. Parenting is certainly this crazy rollercoaster ride of up’s and down’s, but seriously, when you’re just at the end of your rope, take a deep breath. The smart money says you’re doing fine. Sadly, there’s no handbook for the correct or easy way to raise a kid. Trust yourself, please. Second, I can’t stress enough that it’s okay to reach out for help. No matter how long you’ve been a parent or how perfect your kids are, someone out there has a great idea that you’ve never heard of before. Even more, there’s people out there in internetland just clicks away with tons of great advice. Read, connect, talk, and give back when you can. Oh, and when someone tells you they’d love to babysit sometime (and you trust that person), LET THEM! My wife and I are horrible about getting out of the house despite offers from friends. Please feel free to learn from my mistakes.
5) Seeing that you (or your position) are in the limelight, how have you come to balance parenthood and outside life? If you are currently not in the limelight per se, please still answer this in regards to how you balance parenthood and outside life.
This is going to be so cliché that it hurts me a little, but it’s all about coming to terms with that fact that you have to put your family (specifically your kids) first in your life. Outside of my at-home duties, I’m in charge of the percussion in a local bagpipe and drum band, I make cakes for friends/friends of friends/family to keep up my baking skills, and oddly enough I try to see my friends every so often so they remember that I’m alive. Then I decided to keep adding to the pile and start blogging about all this madness. It’s tough, and balance is an optimistic word because kids will always tip the scale to their side. So sometimes I miss a band performance, sometimes we leave unfashionably early from our friend’s houses, and I do my baking and blogging late at night when everyone’s asleep. I guess my answer is that I sacrifice whenever I need to, so that “we” comes before “me.”
6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?
From my own Dad I feel I’ve learned that the blanket statement “I’ll do anything for my kids” really needs to have a limit. My brother, sister, and I are incredibly lucky to have a Dad that loved us so much that he’d gladly go broke trying to make us all happy, but that’s just not a good learning tool. We needed to fail as we grew up from time to time and figure out how to deal with consequences. From other Dads, certainly too many things to list, but I’ll mention to be patient and caring with your kids. Children learn so much early on, and it all comes from us as parents. If you’re patient and loving, that’s a pretty great start.
7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?
Learn to manage your time and make the most of every little moment. Finding a good schedule that works for you and your kids can lead to little breaks here and there. Mentally and physically, you need those little breaks to rest. Also, don’t be fooled by other people. We have a set of friends who, when out in public with their kids, always seem to have it all figured out. Their kids are so well behaved that it’s almost suspicious, you know? It really bugged me till I was over at their house long enough to see that they were going nuts just like the rest of us. The point is, all the parents you know are having bad days and good days, just like you. Don’t judge your abilities as a parent by some brief window of someone else’s life. Remember, deep breath…you’re doing fine.
8) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?
Really, any quality moment is so memorable. Everything from the smallest hug to those moments playing where my boys have the most enormous smiles on their faces. I just don’t smile that big anymore for something as simple as a matchbox car, I kind of admire that. My oldest is only 3 and there’s already so many amazing things that come to mind. At the moment, this sticks out: William really doesn’t say very much. Most of the time if he says two words in a row, we’ll get so excited that we throw a small dance party. Our bedtime routine with him is actually a lot of fun for us. We read stories and he has a little pop up tent that we all huddle in with William’s collection of stuffed animals. As it all winds down, he generally climbs in bed at which point we always say, “Goodnight, we love you.” and the sentiment is returned graciously by some form of sheep/goat noise from him. I think he means it in the most loving way. One night as we were leaving we gave our usual goodnight, and the animal noise was replaced by, “I love you, Daddy.” The wind went right out of me so fast, I couldn’t have cried even if I wanted to. I can’t say it enough times: Kids have this amazing ability to catch you off guard with the most funny, most sweet, or just gross things. I feel pretty lucky to be around for two of those three. Seriously, I don’t need competition for the funny stuff.
If you have any questions for Evan, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!