In the close-knit neighborhood of Queens, New York, Antonio Echevarria spends most of his day juggling house duties and making sure his three boys, Julian (8), Justin (7) and Matthew (3) are prepared for remote learning. As his wife, Tara, is out teaching at a public school a few miles away from home, Antonio helps their kids immerse themselves in their classes, but can't help to reflect on how this past year has changed his life as a father.
Prior to the pandemic, Antonio was working at three different jobs. For him, the toughest part was not the tiredness or burden of labor, but the inability to spend time with his wife and kids. “Throughout the workdays, I’d think about how much my family was missing me, how I wished I could just be with them to witness the laughter and joyous moments in person. This always weighed on me because I remember how I felt when I was a kid, always wanting to spend more time with my father. He was so busy. Sometimes I thought that he didn't care. But the truth is, he was a hard worker. He put the burden of the family on his shoulders so we could live a better life,” said Antonio. “I hope that when my kids grow up, they will see that truth in my efforts as well.”
Once the pandemic hit the states, the Echevarrias faced a new challenge, “but that was the case with many families,” Antonio added, who had lost all three jobs and transitioned to become a stay-at-home dad. “My wife is the rock of the family. When the world turned upside down, she stepped up and I couldn’t be more proud of her. By looking for and grabbing hold of all the positives in life, I truly believe that we can keep ourselves strong, and in return, keep our children stronger,” said Antonio. The biggest positive of the pandemic? “Being able to spend more time with my family.”
On a typical morning, Antonio’s ‘first job’ is to give each of his kids a warm hug - it’s the number one rule of the household and helps to start everyone’s day on a good note. As the boys get ready for online classes, the smell of breakfast cooking and the sounds of pans and silverware crashing spring from the kitchen. Cooking and dishwashing were never Antonio’s strong suits, but are ones he is constantly trying to fit into. “As a tech geek, I always look for ways to use my technology to enhance my day to day, like playing music or videos on my OnePlus 9 as I’m doing chores. Oddly enough, it has given my workflow a new life,” chuckled Antonio. By 8 AM, the kids are stationed with tablets and laptops, and ready to tackle the school day.
Throughout the day, parenting becomes a balancing act for Antonio - from tidying up the house, to preparing lunch and snacks, to supporting the kids with learning. “Teachers can only do so much to help our kids remotely. It’s on us as parents to be just as involved with their learning,” exclaimed Antonio. Still, as a former body builder, Antonio manages to squeeze in a little workout here and there. “I just bought a OnePlus Watch, so having all the workout features and constant reminders of my health has kept me motivated to keep this quarantine body toned down. It also gives me the slightest nudge for when my wife is almost home and I’m needing to make sure everything is taken care of - homeworks, cleaning, food. As soon as mommy is home, you bet everyone is there to give her hugs and kisses.”
Anyone who is close with the Echevarria family knows well of the household’s love for doing everything together - whether it’s ‘Fitness Fridays’ or hopping off the Fortnite Battle Bus during game nights. Mobile gaming, in particular, has been at the core of the family ever since 2018, when Antonio’s oldest son, Julian, was hospitalized with pneumonia. “During one of the most difficult times for Julian and the family, gaming was the vehicle that transported us away from the pain. As soon as Julian recovered, I knew that the fun and games needed to continue, and so I turned to OnePlus. I’ve always been a fan of OnePlus, ever since I bought the OnePlus 3T back in 2016. The attention to gaming that the phone brought was a key reason for why I fell in love with the brand,” says Antonio. Being able to share his love for OnePlus and the reinvigorated passion for gaming have sprouted “Game Nights” in the Echevarria household. “The kids love playing Fortnite and Among Us because we can all play together. Today, every person in the household owns a OnePlus device and the products have allowed me, as a father, to share a more intimate bond with my kids through mobile gaming. I try to make all the time we spend together now special,” said Antonio.
“The legacy of my family is the driving force for who I am as a person,” said Antonio, as he picks up a cufflink that his grandfather had passed down to his father, and eventually to him. “My dad had lost his father when he was only nine years old. But through all the struggles and challenges that he had to overcome at a young age, working countless hours and eventually raising me and my two siblings, he never showed weakness. With that in mind, we must always remember to do the same for the children and young ones that look up to us. Since becoming a father, my three boys gave me a new reason to live. I am their role model. But as much as they are learning from me as children, I am learning just as much as a father.”
The past year has not been kind to many. Loss of jobs, loved ones and more have brought new perspectives of what truly matters to many. For Antonio, utilizing and integrating his passion for technology and family has become a pivotal portion of his life this past year, and something we can all aspire from.