by Sylvia Blair
Hollywood has given us plenty of iconic dads to laugh at — well-intentioned, blundering their way into fatherhood. In 1983 Michael Keaton played a “make it up as you go” stay-at-home dad in Mr. Mom; in 1993 Robin Williams was willing to do anything to spend time with his kids, even dress up as an elderly nanny in Mrs. Doubtfire; and Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Vacation movies offers up an imperfect man whose many failures eventually lead to success.
One thing that is clear for both movie dads and real-life dads is that kids don’t arrive in this world with an instruction manual. Becoming a father is a process filled with surprises, expectations, joys and challenges that often cannot be anticipated or prepared for. This Father’s Day, new dads in Carroll County are celebrating their new roles, a time which has them looking back in wonder about the first year of life.
In December of 2019, Eldersburg residents Max and Rachel Wieder welcomed their daughter, Ruthann, into the world. An employee at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, 30-year-old Max said that fatherhood is a blend of preparation and of dealing with circumstances as they unfold.
Before Ruthann was born, Max and Rachel read books out loud, with soft voices directed towards their unborn child. Max said he was thrilled when he sensed the baby’s movement against his hand. The couple enjoyed their preparations, such as painting the nursery, setting up furniture, decorating, and getting themselves emotionally ready for the “big event.”
“The one thing I was not prepared for was the depth of unconditional love that I feel for this new little person, whom I had never before met,” said Max.
“We waited a long time for Ruthann to arrive, with all of the emotional ups and downs,” said Max. “We went through in vitro fertilization before our miracle baby arrived. The whole experience strengthened our relationship and showed us how much we love and care for each other. Now with Ruthann here, Rachel and I enjoy, and admire, each other even more. We had to work so hard for our baby,” he said.
Max believes that he has adjusted well to the first year of fatherhood, and added that he was nervous in the beginning because he had no experience with a newborn.
Max said he observes every phase of Ruthann’s development with wonder, but said that he did not expect to feel like the milestones in her growth would come so gradually. He eagerly anticipates the age when she can talk and react to him.
“I love watching her lay on the floor on her blanket and stare at a ball, mesmerized for so long, or play with the bell that hangs from her play station. While I do not fast-forward through those moments, there are days when life seems to be still,” said Max.
The Second Time Around
Westminster resident Tim Weber is celebrating this Fathers’ Day with his baby boy, Declan, also born in December 2019. Tim, age 54, is not new to parenting — he has two adult children, Megan and Michael. Tim is grandfather to Megan’s son Nicholas, and to Michael’s children, Michelle and Kenzie.
Tim first became a dad a generation ago and is now experiencing newborn life all over again with his second wife, Kathy. Tim said he has grown to better appreciate fatherhood.
“With Declan, there were so many ups and downs while trying to conceive, that we were walking on eggshells. When we found out that we were expecting, we were so excited. We were on vacation during the pregnancy, while contractors painted the nursery, to Kathy’s sweet surprise after we returned home,” he said.
Life as a dad was different for Tim the first time around. “I love all of my kids equally. However, I had my older children starting at age 19,” said Tim. “At the time, I was dealing with addiction.”
He added that he now sees his adult children and grandchildren often and enjoys a tight bond with them.
How has becoming a father changed over the decades? According to Tim, expectations of fathers have changed. Generations ago, fathers were expected to be the breadwinners and mothers traditionally stayed at home with the children. Many news dads are now more involved in handling daily parenting responsibilities.
Another difference between the fatherhood experience then and now is the importance of spending time with children, and making them the priority in life, Tim said.
He said that, while his job as a community education liaison at the Carroll County state’s attorney’s office can often pull him away at off hours, he works to keep hours open in the evening so he can be a part of the bedtime routine.
“I have learned that what kids really need and want is attention. I am giving that precious gift to my son quite generously,” he said.
Kathy owns a flower shop in Woodbine, a work responsibility which the couple balances between their family and home responsibilities.
In December 2019, Clifford Jr. Pfeiffer, Jr., and his wife, Erica, who live in Finksburg, welcomed identical twin girls Leila and Sloane. They joined older sister Emerson, born in August 2018, to create a family of five. Clifford handles sales for an HVAC company in Montgomery County.
“The joy and pure innocence that our twins have is contagious,” said Clifford. “They are fun and exciting. Yet, at the same time, the twins and our older daughter are a big responsibility.”
The twins were born after a high-risk pregnancy, which involved complications. “They were in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Johns Hopkins Hospital. It was an emotional rollercoaster,” said Clifford. “When they got better and we brought them home, we felt grateful.”
“I have two memories of heightened emotions,” he added. “The first time that the twins lay next to each other, their little arms loosened from their swaddling blankets, and they held each other’s tiny hands. What a twin bond and what an overwhelming memory! The other most emotional time was when we brought the babies home to meet their big sister. I have the full experience on video, of course!”
The Little Moments
Thirty-year-old Charles Evans III, a teacher at East Middle School in Westminster, became a new dad in March 2019 when his son, Charles Evans IV, was born. The new dad teaches technology education to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. However, with schools closed due to COVID-19, he ended up spending much of the spring at home.
“Before my son was born, I actually did not know what to expect,” said Charles. “I give all the credit to my wife, Quenyetta. She was on top of the schedule, set a routine and educated me as we went along. Now, I am changing a diaper in 50 seconds flat, so I have clearly gotten better at this parenting thing,” he laughed.
Charles’s son, who is quite easy-going, is a fan of Mickey Mouse. “My son is starting to find his personality. He loves anything that makes noise. The funniest moments that we enjoy are when his Mickey Mouse toy starts moving to the “Hot Dog” song.
“My son is selective about whom he will dance with — not with me, not with his mom. He only dances with his grandmother. All she has to do is press the button to turn on the music, and my son starts shaking back and forth to the rhythm of the song. He giggles, he rocks, and no one else in the room matters except for his grandmother. Everyone laughs, his grin gets bigger, and he just cannot stop,” Charles said.
Westminster residents Sam and Caity Nelson became parents to their daughter Carter Marie in January of this year. Sam, 25, a brewery assistant at Brewery Fire in Taneytown who has spent more time at home due to the COVID-19 outbreak, said he considers himself lucky to have enjoyed extra time with the baby early in her life.
“I consider everything she does as cute, like when she sleeps so deeply while laying at an angle,” he said. “Carter discovered her feet the other day and had an amazed look on her little face, as if she was asking ‘What are these objects attached to me?’” he laughed. “In the morning when she wakes up, she lights up the room, and even the dogs get happy.”
Father’s Day Expectations
What are new dads looking forward to this Father’s Day? It’s simple — more time with the kids.
“I look forward to possibly taking Declan to the park, putting him on the swings, and hopefully bringing him out to the golf course. I am very aware of including my older kids and grandkids in family outings. Knowing that all of my children are happy and together would be a great Father’s Day gift,” Tim said.