Kevin Cox, a one-time litigator and general counsel turned writer known as the “Foodwalker,” is our Lead Dad of the Week.
Kevin, father of two and husband to Company of Dads advisory board member Lisa Alvarez-Calderon, put his hand up 20 years ago to be the Lead Dad when their boys were young and their careers created what he called a House of Cards. Working and parenting went fine until something didn’t run as scheduled and then…
“People really were confused by what I was doing, and I felt ostracized,” he said when he told friends he was pivoting to become a Lead Dad. “People called me up and said, Buy a sports car, Have an affair, Don’t give up this job.”
The family that owned Firmenich Fine, the Swiss fragrance and flavor company where he was general counsel in the U.S., was more understanding. They made him the special counsel – which meant he could work remotely from home and become the go-to parent for his boys. It made all the difference in the life his family has lived since.
When his wife was offered a role in Singapore, they took it. There was no hesitation around what it meant for his career, and he dove into the excitement of it all. From that was born, Foodwalker, which began with telling the stories of Singapore’s rich and varied street food scene.
“I spent the next 5 years doing all the kid stuff, but I also developed this writing career,” he said. “That experience was incredibly rich, but it was only possible because of the decisions we made years earlier.”
It also was healing from the rejection he felt as Lead Dad in the New Jersey suburbs. One that still stings is getting kicked out of a morning tennis group made up of suburban moms.
“I’m not a great tennis player, and most of the women were as good or better than me,” he said. “It was fun. But then my friend who invited me came to me and said you can’t be part of this group anymore. She said some of these women aren’t comfortable with you being here. I felt pretty badly about that – I felt rejected. To me, it didn’t matter if I was male or female. There was no sexual tension. It was just a bunch of people hitting tennis balls around.”
But Kevin pressed on and now in his early 60s he looks back with nothing but gratitude in his choice to become a Lead Dad. “The kids may need years of therapy for whatever we’ve done to them, but they’ll never say that there wasn’t always a parent there for them,” he said. “I’m proud of that. It came with a price. There was a tradeoff around my career. But it’s not a tradeoff I regret.”
Welcome, Kevin, to The Company of Dads!