After spending three decades in somewhat darkness, half-blind to everything parenthood, the picture is beginning to come into focus. My wife, Jimena, and I are expecting our first child this September. Since we learned that she is pregnant, I have become increasingly observant of my parental surroundings.
Today, I’m seeing fathers everywhere. My perspective started to shift three weeks after we learned that another little Savarese is on our way. At first, I started thinking with an extra-optimistic outlook about the papas in my life.
I thought about my cousin, Alfred, who has three boys under the age of 6, and I pondered over my good friend, Joe, who has two sons of his own. Then, I began mulling over all the dads I know, including my own. I came to the conclusion that those men are amazing.
Here I sit, nearly 34 years old without any children; I’m still questioning my confidence, and wondering if I have what it takes to be a dad.
I believe that I know what I’ll have to do. I will wake up extra early to warm the bottles and change the diapers. I’ll work hard, as hard as I can, to support my family while still being there for my son or daughter. I will power-punch the time clock and eke out that extra effort to ensure that I keep my job and haul in a regular paycheck, large enough to pay evermore bills.
I’ll come home from work smiling and happy to see my family. I will cook and clean and run errands, while being a role model to my child, and — at the same time — a compassionate spouse to my wife.
As these responsibilities are laid out, presented here in black and white, they seem straightforward and accomplishable. However, I think that all of the dads out there know better than to underestimate their title.
Like I said, I’m emerging now as a musing observer of fatherhood.
When I’m at the IGA and I see a dad with his kids, I show him some respect. I admire that the man helped keep those little humans safe for several years ... and I’m especially impressed if they are clean, clothed and appear to be healthy.
Now, when my lovely wife and I sit down to eat at a restaurant, and I see a dad’s steak dinner getting cold as he hand-feeds his young son chicken fingers, I raise my glass to him. And although I’ve never judged a parent, when I heard a baby crying or a toddler screeching, I now respect their struggle.
Today, as I’m aiming to be the best father for my unborn child, I keep my eyes on the other moms and dads out there and I think about all those proud parents who’ve impacted my life.
To them I say thank you. Thank you for teaching this dad-to-be what it takes to raise a kid. I won’t ever forget the lessons that I’ve learned over the years from watching my friends and family act as mommies and daddies.
Shaun Savarese is a former reporter with The Daily Record.