Father’s Day means different things to different dads: when you spend your working life following President Trump around the world, it’s especially important.
What does Father’s Day mean to you? To some dads, it’s simply the chance to have a long lie in and some uninterrupted time in front of the World Cup.
To others, it’s a chance to reflect on what fatherhood means to them. Peter Alexander is the national correspondent for NBC News in the US. He can be found at White House press conferences, or – most recently – in Singapore for the US/North Korea summit.
But most importantly, Peter is the dad of two daughters, five-year-old Ava and Emma, three. “At the end of the day, being a dad is more important than anything else in my life,” he says.
To celebrate Father’s Day 2018, we talked to Peter about the sort of challenges we all face as dads: balancing a demanding job with family life, making sure we’re around for the countless pleasures children bring, and falling asleep on the sofa.
What does Father’s Day mean to you? Do your daughters make a big deal of it?
Peter: Ava hand-delivered me several Father’s Day cards with “DADDY” scribbled across the front, so I think I’m in good shape. For me, Father’s Day is really a family day. These days, fresh off of a presidential trip in Singapore, I wanted my wife, my girls and me to have a whole day to ourselves. I think the most special Father’s Day is a day when we get each other’s undivided attention.
How easy do you find it to combine fatherhood with a demanding job?
Peter: At the end of the day, being a dad is more important than anything else in my life, which makes it that much more challenging to balance work and fatherhood, especially when work can occupy my days from dawn to dusk. My goal is to focus on making sure when I am home – and with my girls – that I put down my phone and focus exclusively on them.
What have you found to be the most satisfying part of fatherhood (up to now)?
Peter: Watching my daughters play together.
Obviously, it’s not always happy-joy-joy. My youngest has a Ronda Rousey streak in her, so things occasionally get ugly, but in those quiet moments, seeing them together as sisters – and best friends – is what makes me most proud.
How similar – or otherwise – is your parenting style from that of your own dad? What did you learn from him?
Peter: My wife jokes we’re both really good at falling asleep on the couch. But the chief lesson he taught me stuck: Family first. The rest is details. Each day, I believe I honor him by working to pass on that love to my daughters. A native Chicagoan, my dad raised me as a die-hard Cubs fan. I’m indebted to him for so many shared memories rooting on the Cubbies: road-tripping to spring training or just sitting together on the couch watching WGN. My daughters prefer ballet to baseball, but what really matters is that we enjoy it together.
“The chief lesson my dad taught me? Family first. The rest is details”
Given your career, do you ever get dad guilt – feeling like you’re not around enough, helping out with the minutiae of family life?
Peter: I was overseas on assignment for Ava’s pre-K graduation, so I got my first real dose of missing a meaningful milestone. It was exactly what I promised myself I wouldn’t let happen, but I watched on FaceTime and kept the camera on through the whole ceremony, mostly so Ava could know I was with her. Still, I’m most guilty about all the everyday moments I miss: sitting together at breakfast, the drop-offs and pick-ups at school, the afternoon swim classes. They’re growing up so fast, and I am doing my best to share in their daily routine whenever possible. That way I’m not just asking about their day; once and a while I get to experience it with them, too.