As diverse as dads can be, they really aren’t that different when it comes to hopes, dreams and family.
By Rolondo Talbott
As Father’s Day approaches, gifts will be bought, crafts will be made and Dad’s favorite activity will be planned—all to show him how much he is loved and appreciated. However, for most fathers, this day isn’t just about him. This day is also a celebration of family and togetherness, as a father wouldn’t be a father without his family.
Call of Duty
Answering the call of duty to serve your country and being a father are both life-altering decisions and paths, and Jose Guillen, a Customs and Border Protection Agent from Santa Ana, assumed both roles. Being a federal agent and the father of two young children, Guillen lives in a world where his career and his safety are of the upmost importance, because his family depends on it.
For some men, their careers and ambitions play a large part in whether or not they have children, but despite Guillen’s career pursuits, having kids was always a goal. “I have always wanted kids for as long as I could remember,” Guillen explained. “So when it came to pursuing my career aspirations, it never occurred to me that my work can or would be affected by having children.”
Guillen knew that being a federal agent would come with a tremendous amount of risk, which is exacerbated now that he has children. Due to this aggravation, there have been times where Guillen has considered pursuing a different career path. “There have been a couple of incidents that have given me some concern,” Guillen stated. “But it’s my training and level of preparedness that brings me some comfort in knowing that I’ll be just fine.”
Having recently been promoted to a supervisory role, Guillen has finally been able to achieve a balance between his career and being there for his children by maintaining a highly flexible work schedule. “Flexibility is paramount for me, now that I have kids,” Jose explained. “Pursuing my career while being able to take the kids to school, be at the games or even do homework—it’s the best of both worlds.”
Art, Commerce and Baby
Jeff Armstrong and his wife are the owners of Nuestras Manos in Costa Mesa, a vintage clothing and art store that exclusively sells his hand-painted wood impressions. Armstrong is in the process of transforming his artistic abilities into a full service event planning company that will provide for all of Orange County. As if running a successful business wasn’t demanding enough, the couple also recently welcomed their first child, Jake.
Life with a new baby often presents unfamiliar situations for new parents—no matter how prepared they thought they were. Although socializing with children is a good way to experience parenthood, it by no means prepares you for having one. “Just when you get used to the thought of being around kids all the time, you convince yourself that you’ll be just fine when you have a child of your own,” Armstrong explained. ”But when your child is born, you realize you really had no clue. Whether he is crying of hunger, tired or in need of a diaper change, you have to figure it out until you find out what makes him happy.”
With the new responsibilities of being a dad, it can become a source of stress and concern. “Being a calm and rational person goes right out the window the minute you hear an unfamiliar sound—or no sound at all—which usually leads to waking up in the middle of the night to obsessively check on him,” Armstrong said.
Adapting to Adoption
Adopting a child can be both challenging and rewarding—but mostly a labor of love. Jeff Hurley, brand manager for Hurley, an activewear and lifestyle company in Costa Mesa, knows this firsthand. Having three children of his own, Hurley and his family recently sought to expand their brood by adopting 4-year-old Jonas. Although the adoption process can be an arduous journey, Hurley and his family took it all in stride. “We didn’t have the mentality that we would try to figure everything out before we started this process,” Hurley explained.
Helping Jonas adapt to his new life became a family affair, but it was not without its difficulties. “We finally developed a daily routine, but it’s to the point now where we don’t even think about our son as being adopted,” Hurley stated. “It’s only when we are out somewhere and other kids say, ‘Why did he call you Daddy?’ or ‘You don’t you look like him.’ It’s moments like these that make us realize that we are in a unique situation, and we are thankful for it.”
Like most fathers, Hurley’s main concern is the well-being of his children, but he remains comforted by the fact that his family has committed to loving their new addition. “I don’t see any real reason to have fear about raising Jonas. I’m sure I’ll make mistakes, but there’s no point in being afraid,” he explained.
From Father to Grandfather
John Parish (far right) from Lake Forest knows a thing or two about being a father after raising two boys, but becoming a first-time grandfather has given him a new perspective on fatherhood. “What surprised me the most about being a grandfather is not only watching my son grow into a loving and doting father himself, but to see how much more attached I have become to him and his family—it’s amazing!” explained Parish.
The birth of a grandchild is the opportunity for a new beginning for both parents and grandparents. For Parish, being a new grandfather provided him a unique perspective given his relationships with his own children—allowing him to reflect on not only the positive aspects of being a parent, but the shortcomings as well. “Make it a priority to have one-on-one experiences with your children,” Parish said. “Try not to get too caught up in the many emotional states children experience,” Parish said. “This will make you lose sight of the well-rounded type of person that you wish your child to be. Success and failure are a part of life and should be learned on their own.”