The Tao of Fatherhood

By Charles Bonello, CEO

This last weekend, my wife and I were lucky enough to go on a little babymoon to the Bahamas (highly recommended) as a kind of a last chance for us to steel our reserves, bank up some sleep and celebrate the last time we’ll be a party of two before our daughter joins us in May. For me personally, it was a very welcomed opportunity to shut out the outside world, turn off emails and worries about bills, business and the upcoming journey of fatherhood.

And that final part lasted about an hour, maybe two tops. Sitting on the beach, enjoying my first margarita and getting ready to take a little nap in the sun and work on my dad-tan, my momentary zen was shattered by a screaming baby and her entourage (aka her parents) sidling up to the seats next to us. She must have been about six months old, but she travelled HEAVY. Her mom was red faced negotiating with her to put sunscreen on her face while the baby was struggling to get her rash guard off, while her dad was lugging a caravan of supplies, capped off by what appeared to be a temporary jungle-gym-cabana. And as I sat there, I felt like I was looking into a crystal ball.

At the time I tried to shake off the feelings of anxiety by looking over at my absolute champion of a wife, who was covered head to toe like a beekeeper trying to avoid sunburn, and tucked into a book Then, it hits me like a tidal wave. And that that tidal wave was one of pure unadulterated anxiety driven by the fact that I am realizing that I have absolutely no control over anything that’s coming my way. So I tell myself “look, I’ve run businesses and invested in lots of companies where the outcomes were both bad and good. The stakes there are high, but nothing compared to what I’m dealing with now.” And those questions that usually only rear their head in that hour before you’re drifting off to sleep start leaping out at me now:

  • How on earth am I going to afford this?

  • Am I really happy with the Uppababy, or should we give the Maclaren another test spin? Or the Bugaboo?

  • Is my baby going to be healthy and happy?

  • Did my hippie friend have a point about the silent water birth option that I unfairly dismissed because our doctors with decades of experience pointed out that no land mammal ever gives birth in water?

  • Will my dad bod hold up to the rigors of fatherhood?

  • Am I ready for this?

I’m a pretty tightly wound guy anyway, so I’m given to this kind of internal monologue, which makes me good at my job and awful at ordering dinner. But when I shake my head and look around and see the hundreds of other dads and soon to be dads making their last pilgrimages to the beach on their babymoons, I also find some kind of dad-like koan in a few items that all strike me at once:

  • No one really knows what they’re doing until they are in it. But you’ve got some great role models that showed you how.

I think to my parents, who had me at 25 and 23 respectively, and by the time they were my age, had 3 kids. But they’re also basically a lifetime away from where we are today with the information and resources we now have available at our fingertips, including a little something called the internet. And they are very much my heroes, but I also don’t think they had a clue what to expect at 25 and 23. I think that my siblings and I turned out pretty good, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

On a deeper human level, people have been having kids for thousands of years, and until the last 100 years (and I’m being generous there), these were in less than stellar conditions. The sum total of human history has led us to this point, so let’s not fight it too hard.

  • There’s never a perfect time for anything.

Not to get too Ferris Bueller on everyone, but life will pass you right by if you’re waiting for the perfect time to do anything, because it won’t ever be there. I’ve built my own career around this principle, but for my life and my legacy and my family, with the stakes so much higher, I can’t afford to wait (I also don’t really have much of a choice). I’m reminded of one of my favorite poems:

Don’t go to sleep one night.

What you most want will come to you then.

Warmed by a sun inside, you’ll see wonders.

In other words, it doesn’t matter if you think you’re ready. Get ready.

  • My wife is doing all the hard work and I should probably just shut up, be grateful to have someone so strong and smart and give her every part of me she needs.

This is a little self explanatory, but I also think we all come to this realization at some point, or not, to our peril.

I wouldn’t be being honest or doing my job if I didn’t mention just how much these anxieties and these realizations inspires our work every day at Vivvi. And how much of it is (somewhat selfishly) reflected in what we’ve put together in very real, practical ways:

  • From our standard 7 AM to 7 PM schedule with no late fees that’s aligned with our needs;

  • To our multimillion dollar campus that has spared no cost in investing in the very best design and supplies;

  • To a world class team that is the only one I would truly trust with my child, headlined by my colleagues Ben, Lynne and Navita, who have built and are implementing the world’s finest early learning curriculum in a space that is full of warmth and love;

  • And teachers that are not only paid more than the average preschool or early childhood teacher, but that have actual equity tied to the long term success of the children in their care.

But it’s also reflected in a very real parent and family community that means I’ll never have to worry about these things again in a silo. With really practical items like our partnership with Brightwheel to keep me and my wife connected and informed and parent workshops, to more fun things like NFL Sundays and Massage & Manicure Saturdays, at least I’ve got this covered. From top to bottom, we’ve built the experience that we crave, need and demand, and I couldn’t be prouder of the work our team has done to date.

So, while this hasn’t helped me to stop worrying about literally everything, it has brought me to a more peaceful and productive place. I’m an incredibly lucky guy for all the opportunities I’ve been given, not least of which are my wife and my soon to join us daughter. I haven’t even met her yet, and I love her more than I ever thought was possible. The only way I can see to honor that opportunity, and these people, is to give them everything I’ve got. I’m pretty sure that if I’m able to do that, my wife and daughter will feel the same way about me.

If you’re interested in joining me and our wonderful team of educators on this journey, I encourage you to join us at an upcoming Open House to meet the team. And if you’re interested in bringing Vivvi to your employer, just send me an email at and I’ll tell you how we can leverage robust federal subsidies to cut your and your employers costs in half.