Matt Henson is a hell of a guy. Singer and Bass player in the street punk band Noi!se, his lyrics come across with a sense of urgency and meaning at a time where punk rock seems almost lifeless and empty. Though I first heard of Matt through his music, I was humbled when I learned he is also an active member of the US Army as a Sergeant First Class, in addition to being an adored husband by his wife and father to a four year old. Matt is a fine example of what a Modern Day Dad truly is, staying true to his ideals and making things work by any means necessary. Matt is the type of person that just doesn’t talk about things, he does them with all his heart. His family comes first in his life, and balancing everything else that he has on his plate he magically seems to make it all work pretty seamlessly. It was an absolute honor and pleasure to be able to talk to Matt about being a father and hope you find as much inspiration in his words as I did.
1. Tell us about what you do, who you are, and how you balance your career with being a dad?
My name is Matt Henson. I sing and play bass for a punk rock band called Noi!se and am also a Sergeant First Class in the US Army. I have a beautiful wife named Stefanie and an amazing 4 year old son named Liam. I balance the 3 in two ways: the first is prioritization. My family comes before any and everything. The second is by exercising the maximum amount of time management at every available opportunity and try to plan things as far in advance as possible with the understanding that many of those plans will inevitably fall through…. so contingencies are key. I am currently stationed in Korea, however, so recently balancing everything has gotten a bit more challenging.
2. What does being a modern-day dad mean to you?
I would say that most of the key ingredients of fatherhood have remained the same for generations. My son is the most important thing in the world to me and his safety and well being is placed above all other things. I want my son to learn from both my successes and failures (the latter category could fill volumes) at both being a father AND being a human and want nothing more than to see him surpass my own performance in both endeavors. Most importantly, I think fathers from all generations just want to see their children grow up happy and healthy…. but that doesn’t really answer your question in it’s entirety, so I’ll address the “modern day” portion: As I said, right now I am stationed in Korea while my family is back home in Washington… so another set of obvious challenges have presented themselves recently. Being away means that I have to understand the role I can fill from overseas and do everything I can to help my wife get by in my absence. That means Skype during lunch breaks, videos on Facebook that my son can watch in the mornings before preschool and anything else I can do to try and supplement my actual presence with a virtual one…. and that is one of the fundamental things that differentiate us from our fathers. Technology. While it’s helping my family and I exponentially by filling some of the void left with my absence, when I’m home it can be a distraction and really detract from my experience with my family. Especially with work and the band, it’s really easy to get caught up in emails and Social media…. so it’s imperative to be very cognizant of when it’s time to put down the phone and laptop and go to the park.
3.How did becoming a father change your life?
When my wife told me she was pregnant, I was absolutely terrified…. not for fear of being a father, but for fear of being a bad one. My wife was born to be a mother, so I never for a second doubted the fact that she would be the greatest mother on earth….. and she is, but I understood how important that job of a father was and was scared to death I would come up short of being the person my son deserved. Then I began to doubt myself even more because I thought “a good dad wouldn’t be scared of being a bad one”. The moment I saw Liam for the first time, those fears became a distant memory. The focus went from a fear of failure to the importance of success.He became my entire universe in a fraction of a second. From then on, every decision I made would be dictated by how it would affect my son. He is what makes me the happiest I have ever been and the greatest thing I could ever hope to achieve. I miss him more than words can express.
4. Whats the greatest part about being a dad?
Making my son laugh. Liam’s laugh is something Law Enforcement should put on a loud speaker during riots. It is literally impossible to be upset when you can hear it.
5. Can you share a funny story about being a father?
Liam loves pancakes….. which is convenient since I am the best pancake maker in…… um…. the house. I was making him breakfast a few months ago and while working on flipping the pancakes I was working on (a delicate part of the process) Liam ran into the kitchen and informed me that Thomas (the tank engine) “had to go through the deep, deep snow). My initial response was “Oh wow” (a common Dad response). It was then I noticed white powder running from his shoulders to his pajama bottoms and covering his hands. I turned to take the pan off of the stove and noticed that the pancake mix was gone. I ran into his room to discover that Thomas had, indeed gone through deep, deep snow… an entire box of it. “Snow” had also gotten all over pretty much everything in his room. His innovation was really impressive. There was no way I could be upset. As she had just had the carpets cleaned, Stefanie was really excited about it, too.
6. What advice can you give any new father out there?
There is no such thing as a perfect parent…… so the pressure should be off a little. Every child is different just like every parent is, so keep in mind that the “when you were that age” or “when ______ was that age” comments have little to no relevance. Keep the safety, happiness and well being of your child foremost in your mind and the rest will take care of itself. Like I said, every parent is different, so my advice is really only applicable to some, but I think if you adhere to the advice in the last sentence you’ll be okay. If you’re reading this, then you already care enough to seek a little guidance, so I’d say you’re off to a great start.
Thanks so much Matt, for your music, for your time to talk with us, and for your service to this country. Keep on doing what you are doing and we wish you the best of luck in all that you do.