A Time of Expectant Men

Naturally, with the start of a new year - a new decade, no less - we are all filled with expectations.

It has been a quiet stretch at work and we closed the year with one of my favorite events, the annual Interfaith Breakfast hosted by Mayor Bloomberg. Held for the past several years at the New York Public Library, it is a gathering of clergy representing the wide range of faiths that make our city the cultural and religious melting pot that it is. Representatives of the four major religions lead off in prayer, followed by the Mayor. He saluted the guest of honor; 15-year-old Vada Vasquez, victim of a random gunshot wound in the Bronx this past November - and a poster child for believing in miracles.

The Mayor's call to action was to step up the fight for substantive change in gun control. He challenged the clergy to go into their communities and make a difference in this battle. Honestly, it was a great speech on a topic he has championed for several years - and a cause all New Yorkers can commit to regardless of the size of one's bonus, religious beliefs or political affiliation; making the city safer for our children.

Expectant men facing a new year. I cannot help but feel a sense of optimism. It is more than just a knee jerk reaction to the opportunity to start over with a 'clean slate', but something about positive thinking and dedication to our goals that renews my spirit. But it is more than even that... There is something in water at Great Performances because we have a record number of new/expectant fathers! (Could it be a by-product of the fecundity of Katchkie Farm? Not everyone has a fertile organic farm as part of the work package.) The women at GP have produced beautiful and brilliant offspring, but never a surge like this. In the warehouse/trucking department, Kevin and Jeffrey became dads this fall (to Juliette and Elijah) and there is one more co-worker not quite public yet, who will be right behind them in the spring. In the kitchen, Chef Marc is expecting and Matt delivered (Maggie) before Christmas. Upstairs, John brought home baby Cash before we could even have the surprise shower.

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Two of the couples are producing GP babies - meaning, mom and dad met at the office. I advise these parents about names - "If it's a boy, name him Dean; if it's a girl, Liz." We do have one expectant mom, Jodi - so it isn't a completely male dominated field.

What are these GP dads like? They are immensely proud. They have up to date photos and the biggest smiles when they talk about their babies. I get growth updates and sleep reports. On occasion, a baby comes into the office and we pass him/her around. It is divine. Are they different from the GP moms? Well, I don't see them juggling home and work responsibilities first hand the way I do with working moms. Though I admit that my heart is with working moms, I am proud of our dads and like to think that they do their share of the work plus some.

I'll take a page from our mayor and kick the New Year off with a position on the subject of parenting; I personally feel the corporate world does not do enough to support working moms. For those lucky enough to negotiate a 4-day workweek, I believe most of these moms are cramming 5 days of work in less and only getting paid for 4. Not fair, not right. Our system should enable parents to spend enough time at work AND at home without making it impossible or economically unfeasible for women to work, pay for childcare and parent. It is interesting to watch our new crop of fathers who will not have to wrestle with these choices themselves (though they will have to grapple with the decisions their spouses/partners will have to make).

So, welcome to 2010. A year that I hope will be filled with blessings - of new lives, wonderful challenges for our young parents, good health for all of us. We continue to keep our Sandy Harkness, fighting breast cancer, in our hearts and prayers. We have fingers crossed for an improved economic climate and growth of our business so we can continue to support our GP families as well as the non-profits efforts to which we are committed.

In the final hours of 2009, a flood of end of year e-mails came in. I loved the juxtaposition of two of them in particular. The first was from Seeds of Peace, a unique organization dedicated to peace in the Middle East; immediately followed by one from my dear friend of 20+ years, Jim Colvin. Each had a unique perspective on how to mark the end of year/begin a new year.

"Peace and Quiet"

"Pork and Cabbage"

With our lofty hopes, comes our need for basic comfort. I hope all the babies are sleeping well.

To all, a peaceful and delicious New Year.

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