TODAY'S FATHERS: FAMILY FIRST
Although the days are tiring and schedules difficult, a number of fathers are moving heaven and earth to be more than just a passing figure in their children’s lives. Étienne Lessard, who faced the arrival of his first child with some trepidation, is now completely crazy about his son, which is the complete opposite to his own formative model.
New parenting model
With his brother, Étienne ensures the proper management of two livestock operations that, when combined, total nearly 200 milking cows without counting the 400 ha of land that they crop themselves. If he admits to not being the one who does the most at home (understandable with three milkings a day), he happily welcomes the responsibilities related to fatherhood. “You’re never really ready to be a father, but after I became one, I was absolutely crazy about it!”
As a result, Étienne takes his new role very seriously because, for him, having children is an important decision. “My parents divorced when I was 16 years old, and I saw what it was like to be torn between two parents. I didn’t want to make my children live like that.” He and his wife had long discussions about the topic. Étienne hesitated for a long time, but believing they shared the same values on family and educating their children, they started to build a family. If the chore allows him, Étienne takes the time to bring his little Théo, who is two and a half years old, with him. “It’s a lot of oversight and you’ve got to think about everything, but having the chance to have him with me, there’s no price on that.” To be able to spend more time with his child, Étienne has had to make choices regarding how his operation is managed. He is aware that finishing up chores is not always perfect, or that the time to do them is not as long as it used to be. When he brings Théo with him on the tractor to give hay to the cows, the task easily takes twice as long. “Finishing 30 minutes later than usual is not a big deal.”
A hard worker since he was very young, Étienne is learning to slow down a little bit at a time. He had to work relentlessly to avoid selling the farm when he became an adult. Up every morning at 4:00 a.m. and in bed by 8:00 p.m., he has had a replacement come in for milking on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings every other weekend since last fall. “I like it a lot. It’s good. I do get tired and sometimes I really just want to get some rest, but instead I go play outside and spend some quality time with my son. I can’t neglect my family.”
After the trepidation at the arrival of his first child, Étienne is now more confident in his role as a father. He and his wife are now expecting a second child and they intend to keep adding to the family.