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On Illustrations and Dad Time, With Luis Mendo
Dadditude Newsletter #14
Dadditude interviews dads from different backgrounds, professional fields and ethnicities to get their insights on what it means to be a dad in the current moment.
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On Illustrations and Dad Time, With Luis Mendo
We met Luis more than a decade ago in Tokyo when he was relocating from The Netherlands and switching careers to become a full-time illustrator. We’ve been a fan of his generous personality and gentle drawing style ever since, and it was an honour to have him illustrate a series of adorable dad-child moments for the Dadditude app launch screen (two of which you can see at the top and bottom of this newsletter).
We spoke with him recently about becoming a second-time dad 20 years after the first, raising a child as a foreigner in Japan, and the finite amount of hugs we’ll ever get from our kids.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am Luis Mendo, Spanish born and currently living in Tokyo, Japan for about 8 years. I am the dad of Tomo and Anton, and work as an illustrator for all kinds of clients worldwide, from my tiny desk at home. You can follow me on my site or Instagram.
Tell us about your kid.
Tomo is only 1 year and 4 months, while Anton (different mom) is already 22 and lives in Amsterdam. Tomo is very charming and temperamental, she can’t express emotions mildly. While Anton is a calm and cool kind of guy.
What’s your experience of raising a second child 20 years after your first one?
Although I know how to do most things automatically (changing nappies, recognize different kinds of crying, knowing when she’s hungry or sleepy...), I was mainly surprised to see that I couldn’t remember about the timing of their various milestones. No idea when Anton got his teeth, started walking or talking. I remember the events of course, but just can’t place them on a timeline. Also, my body is different and I cope differently with the lack of sleep for instance. Another difference is that I don’t worry about every single thing as much as I did with my first child, I’m more relaxed.
As a foreigner, what’s your experience of raising a child in Japan?
So far, not much. My wife says I get everyone’s attention on the street as they like to see a westerner with an Asian-looking child. In any case, I wish I could talk more in depth with the caretakers at the nursery, but my Japanese is quite limited.
How do you manage to mix work and family?
Fortunately, being a freelancer and working from home gives me a lot of freedom to help with the child and house chores, so I normally work in between or when she’s at the nursery.
What do you think is your biggest strength as a parent?
I had a father who wasn’t very cultivated nor versed in education but he was a perfect role model for me as a hard worker and an honest, generous person. I think my son has inherited those from me and I hope my daughter gets that too. Not being an entitled and egocentric human being will help them well in life, I believe.
What stresses you out the most these days as a parent?
On a micro level, I worry about not being able to be a good father for Tomo. I know I made mistakes with my son (overly cautious, not giving him enough freedom...) but I am determined to change that, this time around. On a macro level, I worry about climate change, its consequences and how it will affect their lives deeply.
What side of parenthood do you wish you had invested more time and energy in the past?
Maybe doing more outdoorsy stuff with them. I am a classical person who prefers staying at home drawing or reading, and I might fail (again) at doing more things outside like visiting places, hiking a mountain, etc.
Can you tell us about an especially favorite/special moment with your kid recently?
Those moments when she’s crying, inconsolable, or can’t fall asleep if she’s not in my arms. First that made me mad, but I think back on how I wished I could relive those moments with my first child. The fact that they need you for consolation and they’ll let you hug them endlessly... that never comes back. So this teaches me to not get mad and enjoy those seemingly annoying moments.
Thank you Luis!
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Check out Dadditude Newsletter #3: On Leadership and Fatherhood, With Sonos CEO Patrick Spence
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