The Father’s Day Chronicles

With Father’s Day right around the corner, we sat down with two local dads to delve into their perspectives on the joys, challenges and incredible journey of fatherhood. Mike Hurwitz, who recently embarked on this life-changing adventure and Justin Harvey, father of three wonderful daughters, shared the best advice they received from their own fathers, the challenges of being a dad and what they are eagerly anticipating this Father’s Day.

Mike grew up in Pikesville, graduated from Boys Latin School of Maryland and went on to play lacrosse at Rutgers University. He lives in Reisterstown with his wife Morgan and 7-week-old baby, Blair Adley. Mike is the incoming co-chair of the Associated’s Young Leadership Council.

Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Justin and his wife Stacy have been living in Towson for 10 years with their three daughters 4, 6 and 8 years old. Justin is the former Vice President of the former Center for Jewish Education (CJE) board and chaired the CJE Wind Down Committee, which helped formulate the agency into the new Macks Center for Jewish Connections (MCJC). Justin and Stacy are also very involved with Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC) and its initiatives.

Justin Harvey with family

What is the best advice your dad gave you?

Justin: My dad’s advice has always been to use your most precious resource wisely — your energy. This means spending your energy on the aspects of your life that are most important to you. I always try to prioritize my kids and family over anything else, whether it’s my own activities, hobbies or work. Afterall, it’s all about living your life with purpose.

Mike: The best advice my dad gave me was to live within your means and be satisfied with your lot ever and your attainments never. The greatest lesson he taught me, not just through words but also through his actions, was that no matter how busy I am with work, family should always come first. He showed me that there is always time in the day to manage work, but prioritizing family should be at the top of the list.

Can you share a heartwarming or funny anecdote from your experience as a father?

Justin: My 8-year-old has reached the point where she knows when I’m about to make a dad joke. My kids hate it when I don’t shave and then try to kiss them because it’s scratchy. The other day, while I was shaving my beard, I started joking around asking my 8-year-old daughter if she could help. She looked at me and said, “Dad, I know what comes next… you’re going to make a ridiculous joke about testing your unshaved face on mine to see if it’s itchy or not.”

Mike: I think the most heartwarming experience as a father is just watching all the little changes Blair makes daily. She is only seven weeks old, so the small things get me excited – like seeing her smile or coo when I am feeding or talking to her. The other day she was napping, and we heard her laughing while asleep so she must have been having a funny dream (or maybe some gas!) but it just put a smile on my face. 

How has your relationship with your own father influenced your approach to fatherhood?

Justin: I’m very fortunate to have had the best dad, so my approach to fatherhood has been to try and be as much like him as possible. Growing up, my dad was always so present. If I could be just a fraction of the father he was to me, I would consider that a great success.

Mike: My father worked long hours but always made sure he was home for dinner or any of my sporting events. Growing up I thought it was the norm, but looking back now, I realize that he consciously made that choice. I know now that he would go back to work after dinner or a game just to make sure he could have that time with his family. 

What’s your ideal way to spend Father’s Day? And Mike, as a first-time father, what are you most looking forward to?

Justin: With my family. We’re an active family, so an ideal day would be going to a sporting event, swimming in the backyard and then having a barbecue.

Mike: We have a large family and I am excited to spend it with everyone over brunch. The one thing I really look forward to is sitting on the couch with Blair and Morgan listening to her cute and funny sounds and enjoying her newborn snuggles. We faced a lot of challenges to bring Blair into this world and I am feeling very grateful to be able to celebrate Father’s Day this year. 

What are some of the challenges you faced during your early days as a father, and how did you overcome them?

Justin: I don’t think any father or mother is truly prepared to understand how much kids change your life. In the early days of fatherhood, there was a feeling of helplessness because there were biological tasks I just couldn’t do, and there was a lot of sleeplessness. For me, the best way to manage it was to eat right, exercise and be present. Every phase of fatherhood may be stressful in the moment, but it’s all fleeting and it goes by quickly. At some point, you’ll wish you could go back to those moments of rocking your baby when they’re so tiny.

Mike: I’ve only been a dad for 7 weeks, so I am still learning new things everyday. I’d say distinguishing between her different cries, changing diapers, and balancing work and home life would be the biggest challenges. My wife and I make a great team, so we work togther to be the best parents we can be.

What’s something you’ve learned from being a father?

Justin: Acceptance. Kids have so few preconceptions. They are more open and accepting of everyone because they haven’t been taught otherwise yet. Re-experiencing life with my children through that lens is refreshing. My kids often question why certain societal challenges exists. I appreciate their questions about societal issues as they often makes me rethink how I perceive different social justice challenges.

Mike: I learned about unconditional love. I don’t think you can truly comprehend it until you hold your child in your arms. In that very moment of holding her, everything changed, and I knew I would always do whatever it takes to make her happy. My parents always spoke about unconditional love, but now I truly understand it.

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