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How a Traveling Dad Can be a Present Dad

André Hueston Mack gets honest about the entrepreneurial juggle.

How a Traveling Dad Can be a Present Dad

*We’ve partnered with BabyBjörn to show how modern dads are redefining parenting norms. While there’s no shortage of stories about entrepreneurial moms trying to “have it all,” we don’t hear much about the dads who are doing the same. We feel for the mom who’s trying to start a business (or businesess, plural) while balancing the responsibilities of parenting, but dad? We rarely stop to think about his emotional struggles, or how much he, too, feels the pull between parenting and pushing his business forward. For this third installment of our BabyBjörn #dadstories series, we’re spotlighting the entrepreneur dad. Meet André Hueston Mack, who is as passionate about fatherhood as he is about his many professional pursuits. He's not just talking the talk, but also walking the walk. Often literally…while babywearing. As the winemaker/owner of Mouton Noir Wines, as well as a creative director, coloring book author, and soon-to-be restaurateur (his Brooklyn wine bar & Sons: Ham Bar & Buttery will open this fall), André spends much of the week on the road, working, mingling and entertaining. But while he may miss some of the day-to-day with his three boys, Finnegan, 8, Django, 6, and Zephyr (nicknamed Pickle), 14 months, he’s no less “present” in his sons’ lives. Below, André lets us into his Brooklyn home and shares his strategies for “having it all” -- or at least trying. What's your typical schedule during the week with the kids? Most weeks, I get on a plane every Tuesday for work and return home by Friday for dinner. For a lot of my friends, that seems like a massive amount of time to be away, but I generally check in daily via text, phone calls or my favorite, FaceTime. My wife, Phoebe, bears the brunt of the workload during this time. During the weekends, I share a lot more of the responsibilities of their morning routines and getting the kids to where they need to be. I also get to spend more time with them on an individual basis, allowing me to focusing on catering to their needs. On Saturday, while Finn is at Dance class, Django and I get to spend most of the day together, hanging at the park, throwing the ball around, brunching, catching up on the previous week and planning future adventures. On Sunday, while Django's at Cello, I have the same scenario with Finn. Phoebe likes to sleep in during the weekends, so Pickle and I generally sneak downstairs for reading sessions before everyone awakes. Dinners play a big role in the socialization of our family and are something that's taken very seriously. We take the liberty every chance we get to huddle around the table to indulge. Once a quarter, I pack up the family and they come on the road with me for a week. Destinations for travel are usually selected by points of interest for education for our children, and where we do business. We homeschool them, so they do their exploring/research while I work, and the day ends in a family dinner somewhere. Our summers are mostly spent together as a family in the Willamette Valley, in Oregon. I find that this levels the playing field of a massively hectic travel schedule the rest of the year. How do you share the love of your career with your children? I honestly believe that true passion is infectious, and by the very nature of how our home life is set up -- meaning homeschooling and working from home -- my children are very involved in the inner workings and events in my business. Part of the reason for opening this new family business (& Sons) is to share our passion for hospitality with our children, while showing them that humility and gratification can be gained from helping others. What does being "present" as a father mean to you? It means to be 1,000% coherent and to be truly engaged when I’m with them. It also means instilling values and thought processes to handle whatever is thrown at them in their lives. It's through those teachings that my “presence" will be felt long after I've left this earth. How has your role as a parent changed as you've had more kids? I'm somewhat a believer that there really is no difference between having two and three children, but my role as a parent has changed with the wants and needs of each child. Because as we all know, just because they're raised underneath the same roof doesn't mean they’re exactly the same. How would you describe you and Phoebe as a parenting team? I always knew that Phoebe would be a great mother -- I can be honest and say that was also a part of the attraction. She was confident, independent and smart, with a quick wit. She's a whole lot more practical, whereas I am totally spontaneous. I guess good cop/bad cop is one way to describe us as a parenting team. Phoebe is more strict while I tend to be a little bit more lax about things...but the rules can be reversed, depending on the topic. And although we come from total opposite backgrounds, our parental beacon guides us towards raising insightful, self-aware, free-thinking human beings. Tell me about your decision to homeschool. Our parenting style is united under our motto: "Don't let school get in the way of your education." Life's education is partially earned through real-life experiences and it's homeschooling that gives us the ability to let our children explore their passions at an earlier age. As the father of 3 boys, why are BabyBjörn’s stories of fatherhood so important to you? Growing up, most of my friends didn't have their fathers present in their lives. I was always grateful that there was a father figure in my life. I want my boys to know that fatherhood is a lifelong process, and that you never stop being one. It’s great to see a brand like BabyBjörn trying to highlight how much dads do, how impactful they are on their children’s lives, and how important the bond is between a father and his child. Tell me about a parenting moment you thought: I'm in over my head. Sometimes I can be a real grudge holder, and one day I found myself imposing that on my older child after he had an incident with one of his friends. I realized that it's up to him to forgive, and that I shouldn't be pushing my own agenda. And...tell me about the parenting moment you realized: this is exactly where I should be. There are way too many moments that I realize I'm exactly where I need to be, even on the very challenging and complicated days. They tend to prove that being a father is one of the greatest gifts. Photography by Ren'ee Kahn-Bresler for Well Rounded. Check out BabyBjörn’s #dadstories here, then share your own on Instagram (or get the dad in your life to share his!) using the hashtag #dadstories. Don’t forget to tag @wellroundedny and @babybjorn_us!

SHOP ANDRE'S BABYBJÖRN STYLE

Babybjörn Carrier One in Anthracite

Babybjörn High Chair in White

Babybjorn Bouncer Bliss

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

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