Our 569th Dad in the Limelight is Microsoft Program Manager & Father, Jason Pankow. I want to thank Jason Pankow for being a part of this series. It has been great getting connected with him and now sharing Jason Pankow with all of you.
1) Tell me about yourself, (as well as how you are in the limelight for my readers knowledge)
Myself, huh? Let’s see. I am just an regular, every day normal guy (shout out to Jon Lajoie!). I am a single dad (about to get remarried so that title will soon change) to a 6 year old little dude who not only keeps me happy, but keeps me in shape as he goes about 100 miles per hour.
By day, I am a Program Manager with Microsoft’s Global Talent Acquisition team. I spent about 10 years as a corporate technology recruiter before moving into this PM role where my job is basically to do what I can to make the company’s recruiters’ jobs as easy as possible. I created the Xbox Jobs community long ago and I now work to perfect the candidate experience for anyone in the world considering a role at Microsoft. I am a dude who genuinely loves my job and the people I work with.
I also keep a blog: pankow4president.com. When I started, my page was called “Diary of a Dad to Be” and it highlighted my experiences as a soon to be dad as well as a new first time dad, once the little dude showed up. The blog went dark for a little while during my divorce, but I am now trying to get it back to a place I want it to be at. Come check it out!
2) Tell me about your family
I am father to a 6 year old, LEGO loving, Disney Infinity playing, Super Hero dressing, annoyingly literal, system challenging little man named Desmond who just kicked off his second half of Kindergarten. I am finance to the always smiling, ever loving, Walking Dead watching, scrumptiously cooking, obsessive compulsively cleaning Kim. We met on eHarmony (promotional assistance provided by eHarmony) at a time when we were both about to give up on dating. Viola…now we’re getting hitched this June. Finally, I have a Boston Terrier who is almost 77 years old in dog years, totally blind, almost deaf, and is allergic to humans. Literally. This is not a joke.
3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?
This one is easy. My divorce. Finding a harmony with my son’s mother. One where we can co-parent as painlessly as possible. We split an even 50/50 custody. The biggest challenge was getting through some major changes while at the same time keeping the little man happy and maintaining as “normal” of a life as we could for him while we transitioned and learned to work together as parents who aren’t married.
On top of that, throw in introducing a new person to the mix who will be a significant part of his life. Someone who will be a parent, but not his mom. Remarkably…this has been rather painless. He seems to love his almost step-mom as much as I do. Maybe even more!
Other than that…the biggest challenge has been getting the song, “Everything is Awesome” out of my head.
4) What advice would you give to other fathers?
I agree with every other “Dad in the Limelight.” Be present, appreciate the time, make sure your kid know he/she is loved, etc. But, I add this, which I think it almost as important: Don’t take yourself so seriously.
Being a dad is totally rad! Easily the most rewarding thing any of us will do. But, that doesn’t mean it’s not fun! I know it drives my lady nuts, but there are few things that make my kid crack up more than a properly timed fart joke. Crude humor? Maybe. But, he’s 6! Kids should be allowed to be kids! Get dirty, run around, yell and scream! And, you know what…it will make them so happy when you join in! You’re dad. They know this. You will forever be the man in their life than all other men are compared to. Loving/caring/nurturing dad can walk hand in hand with “jumping around in the ball pit” dad.
5) How have you come to balance parenthood and outside life?
I have made outside life a part of parenthood. My best friends are the parents of my kid’s best friends. I am active in his school. I coach his sports teams. My company has incredible work/life balance. Nobody blinks if I leave early for a school function, or if I come in late because I am dropping off at school. Of course, I have also learned to take advantage of the time when he is occupied to get work done. Playdates or bedtime will often find me with an open work laptop responding to email or building a presentation. But, once I found the balance, it has been rather easy to maintain. It helps to have strong partnerships with both my fiance and my ex when things come up that I can’t work around such as late nights or work travel.
6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?
I am surrounded by great dads. What I have learned and ideas we share are too numerous to list. Everything from allowance tips to how to get my son to stay in his room at bedtime. But, really, what I have learned most from my fellow dads is that the being a dad has taken on a new meaning. Done are the days of “Wait ’till your father gets home,” when dad shows up, sits at the dinner table with a news paper and interacts with the family when it is convenient. Today’s dads, and all the dads I am close with, are active fathers! Not just as coaches, either. I volunteer with other dads at school. I frequently get together with other dads at the playground. In my world, “I can’t, I am spending time with Desmond,” is a perfectly acceptable answer to why I’m not meeting at the bar.
7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?
I have learned to never take anything about my kid for granted. And, I am not talking in the “time goes so fast” way…although, that is certainly true, too. What I mean is that kids are WAY smarter than we think they are. My son is a particularly logical thinker. For example…he attends Catholic School. Before Christmas, he and I were discussing Advent, the Catholic season that leads up to Christmas. He recently learned about the annunciation…when the angel told Mary that she would have a son, blah blah blah. I ask him, “So…you learned about how the angel came to Mary and told him she would name her baby Jesus?”
Desmond reponds…”Yeah…but, I don’t think that’s how it happened. Parents name their kids. So, Mary and Joseph could have named him Cockadoodie Head. Then, we would all be praying to Cockadoodie Head.”
So…what I’m trying to say is that, in my experience, my son is almost always one step ahead of me.
8) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent?
Goodness, there are so many! There was recently, when he received a card at school from his friend Edie. By Edie’s kindergarten style signature, she included a little heart. Desmond now hides this card in his room where he thinks I can’t find it. Occasionally, I see him bust it out just to look at it, smile and put it back. Then, there was the time I finished my first marathon and he told he how proud he was of me. I’m sure my mom put him up to that, but whatever. It was still an emotional moment. Also, that other time when we went to Disney World together and he made me go on “It’s a Small Word” about 10 times in a row. Hey…the question doesn’t say they all have to be good memories. Every day brings new memories!!! Everything is Awesome!!!!
If you have any questions for Jason Pankow, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!
Also, do you know a Dad in the Limelight? If so, please email me their contact information so that they too can be a part of this series!
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