FATHER'S DAY SPECIAL

FATHER'S DAY SPECIAL

Issue No. 26

Something we've heard time and time again from fans of mater mea is "Where are the dads?" While pater mea isn't in our immediate future, we wanted to acknowledge this equally important role with a special photo shoot in a park in Fort Greene, Brooklyn last Father's Day weekend.

One by one, dads streamed in on that warm summer's afternoon— some pushing strollers, others holding their children's hands—and spoke with mater mea about their experiences as fathers. And though each father had different stories to share, their understanding of what it means to be a dad was singular, as was their obvious love for their children.

What follows is a touching collection of photos and musings on being a dad —those men whose praises we can't sing enough.

xoxo, mater mea

Visuals: J. Quazi King

DWINE KNOTT, 39

DWINE KNOTT, 39

father of Gregory, 4, and Donovon, 19 months
quality assurance manager for Saks.com, married for five years

What’s the best part about being a dad?

It’s amazing just watching them grow. You get a real sense of the passage of time. That element is pretty amazing to experience. 

  Did you always know you wanted to be a dad?   Not always. I think when I got to be an adult, I knew from there on that fatherhood was something that I wanted to experience.   Why was that?   It’s just something I felt. I grew up in a two-parent household. Me and my father always had an interesting relationship, but I always treasured [it]. I always felt like I wanted that for myself.

Did you always know you wanted to be a dad?

Not always. I think when I got to be an adult, I knew from there on that fatherhood was something that I wanted to experience.

Why was that?

It’s just something I felt. I grew up in a two-parent household. Me and my father always had an interesting relationship, but I always treasured [it]. I always felt like I wanted that for myself.

  What part of yourself do you see in Gregory and Donovan so far?   Personality wise Gregory’s probably the most like me. Kind of quiet. When he meets new people, he kinds of holds off a little bit. We’re definitely similar in that way. Donovan, he’s a little more extroverted, not afraid of anything. Gregory looks most like my wife—he has her eyes and everything. But personality wise, he’s most like me. Donovan I think people would say the other way around.

What part of yourself do you see in Gregory and Donovan so far?

Personality wise Gregory’s probably the most like me. Kind of quiet. When he meets new people, he kinds of holds off a little bit. We’re definitely similar in that way. Donovan, he’s a little more extroverted, not afraid of anything. Gregory looks most like my wife—he has her eyes and everything. But personality wise, he’s most like me. Donovan I think people would say the other way around.

AMIYR BARCLIFT, 37

AMIYR BARCLIFT, 37

father of Benjamin, 6 months
school teacher, married for three years

How did you feel when you found out you were going to be a dad?

I was pretty surprised, I was a little bit shocked, and I was very happy. I also realized from that point forward my life was going to be completely different.

  In what way?   In that I have to always have somebody else in my mind. I always have to think about the future of someone else—a young person, not just my wife and myself. Now I have to consider the development, the growth, and the path of somebody else’s life, and how to guide them in the best way that I can.

In what way?

In that I have to always have somebody else in my mind. I always have to think about the future of someone else—a young person, not just my wife and myself. Now I have to consider the development, the growth, and the path of somebody else’s life, and how to guide them in the best way that I can.

  What kinds of conversations did you and your wife have before you had your son in terms of how you would raise him?   We had a few conversations and the dialogue is a continuing [one]. We want the child to be raised well, we want his values to be intact, [and] we want him to have integrity. Because I work with children, and I know what it’s like to be around children who I don’t feel have been raised very well, that’s something that we both can agree [on].  We also want him to have a cultural basis of [an] Afrocentric point of view, but also be aware that he lives in America—just to have a point of view that’s grounded from his family and from his community.

What kinds of conversations did you and your wife have before you had your son in terms of how you would raise him?

We had a few conversations and the dialogue is a continuing [one]. We want the child to be raised well, we want his values to be intact, [and] we want him to have integrity. Because I work with children, and I know what it’s like to be around children who I don’t feel have been raised very well, that’s something that we both can agree [on].

We also want him to have a cultural basis of [an] Afrocentric point of view, but also be aware that he lives in America—just to have a point of view that’s grounded from his family and from his community.

MARIO LAZZARONI, 40

MARIO LAZZARONI, 40

father of Neema, 4, and (not pictured) Wathira, 5 months
Vice President, Corporate Strategy, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., married for five years

How did you feel when you found out you were going to be a dad?

I was actually really fine. In fact, I am the one who suggested to have a pregnancy test. For some reason I thought that we [he and wife, artist Wangechi Mutu] were pregnant.

When that happened, which was after nine months [of knowing] each other, for me it [was] just a natural progression of the fact that we are going to be together. We got married two months later after we found out, and again a year later on the same day, because then we had time to organize the proper celebration [and] get folks in from Italy and Kenya and everywhere else in the world.

  What’s your favorite thing about being a dad?   My favorite thing about being a dad is there’s a degree of relevance in the things you do that wasn’t there before. Which of course is enjoyable most of the time, [but]  sometimes it’s a little bit constraining—you think that you really are never free again, because there are two girls that depend on you all the time.

What’s your favorite thing about being a dad?

My favorite thing about being a dad is there’s a degree of relevance in the things you do that wasn’t there before. Which of course is enjoyable most of the time, [but]  sometimes it’s a little bit constraining—you think that you really are never free again, because there are two girls that depend on you all the time.

  (Squeals) Oh, you had another girl?    (Laughs)  Yes, Wathira [named after Wangechi’s grandmother]. She’s fantastic. Neema loves her; they will really be best friends.  What I really enjoy is the fact that your everyday actions become more meaningful because they are not just for yourself, but for someone [else]. That you’re part of a larger picture, which of course is what terrifies people about having kids. But what you then realize very quickly is now there’s a piece of you that is not staying inside of you—it’s even more enjoyable.  I always say, the way Neema laughs is the way I know I cannot laugh anymore because I can’t be as free as she. But I don’t mind. When she laughs I’m happy or even happier than when I laugh.

(Squeals) Oh, you had another girl?

(Laughs) Yes, Wathira [named after Wangechi’s grandmother]. She’s fantastic. Neema loves her; they will really be best friends.

What I really enjoy is the fact that your everyday actions become more meaningful because they are not just for yourself, but for someone [else]. That you’re part of a larger picture, which of course is what terrifies people about having kids. But what you then realize very quickly is now there’s a piece of you that is not staying inside of you—it’s even more enjoyable.

I always say, the way Neema laughs is the way I know I cannot laugh anymore because I can’t be as free as she. But I don’t mind. When she laughs I’m happy or even happier than when I laugh.

SOLOMON BOYD (AKA SUEDE JENKINS), 41

SOLOMON BOYD (AKA SUEDE JENKINS), 41

father of Solomon (Solly) West Boyd,  2
musician, in a partnership with past mater mea mom, Lorraine West, for 3.5 years

What’s your favorite thing about being a dad?

Feeling like I could chalk my own path because my dad wasn’t around. So whatever I’m doing I’m creating as I go. This gives me an opportunity to do whatever I think is positive and just do it on my own without following my dad’s examples.

 

  What of yourself do you see in Solly?   Whatever he does, he’s tremendously focused. He’ll get stuck on something for a long time, but he’s really open to [move on to] something else too. He’s like a jack of all trades.

What of yourself do you see in Solly?

Whatever he does, he’s tremendously focused. He’ll get stuck on something for a long time, but he’s really open to [move on to] something else too. He’s like a jack of all trades.

  What’s been your proudest moment as a dad?   This guy keeps doing stuff all the time! But being that I practice Buddhism, I think being able to take him to chant with me [has been my proudest moment]. He’s into what I’m doing. He gives me that [quiet] time ‘cause I know his patience is running thin in a place like that. He’s wired [and] for a 2 year old, that’s a lot. I’m really proud that he’s able to share that with me and [that] he understands [it’s] an important thing.

What’s been your proudest moment as a dad?

This guy keeps doing stuff all the time! But being that I practice Buddhism, I think being able to take him to chant with me [has been my proudest moment]. He’s into what I’m doing. He gives me that [quiet] time ‘cause I know his patience is running thin in a place like that. He’s wired [and] for a 2 year old, that’s a lot. I’m really proud that he’s able to share that with me and [that] he understands [it’s] an important thing.

MICHAEL BARCLAY, 33

MICHAEL BARCLAY, 33

father of Michael, III, 9, Maysa, 7, and Mali, 5 months
marketing consultant, married for 9 years

You have three kids in New York. How do you manage it?

It’s funny—I never thought we would stay once we had kids here. Neither one of us are from New York. But culturally it’s great for them. We love the fact that we can just go right across to Manhattan to the museums. The hardest part is this the cost of living and the space, [but] other than that its great.

They’re exposed to quite a few things. My son [was on] Sesame Street, my daughter has an aunt who works in the fashion industry, so she gets to go to check out Fashion Week and things like that. It’s cool for them and it’s great seeing it as someone who grew up in a very small area in North Carolina with aspirations to do certain things that just weren’t available. Having that available for them is pretty cool.

  What’s been your proudest moment as a dad?   The first time I saw my son on the ultrasound. You know, [I] didn’t know how that would affect me and it really did. Seeing that firsthand on the ultrasound had to be the proudest because your life changes from then and it’s never been the same ever since

What’s been your proudest moment as a dad?

The first time I saw my son on the ultrasound. You know, [I] didn’t know how that would affect me and it really did. Seeing that firsthand on the ultrasound had to be the proudest because your life changes from then and it’s never been the same ever since

  What kind of people do you hope your children become?   Happy. There aren't many people in this world that are truly happy with their lives and the choices they've made along the way. I want the kids to look forward to each new day and enjoy life.

What kind of people do you hope your children become?

Happy. There aren't many people in this world that are truly happy with their lives and the choices they've made along the way. I want the kids to look forward to each new day and enjoy life.

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ANTHONY DAVIS, 39

ANTHONY DAVIS, 39

father of Elijah, 1.5
senior marketing manager at Pfizer, married to past mater mea mom Crystal Black Davis for 10 years

Your wife shared with us that she wasn’t sure she wanted to have children before Elijah was born. How did you feel about having kids?

I always knew it would happen sometime. We had a plan in mind and then, boom, it happened earlier than we anticipated. But it was cool. You just realize there’s not a perfect time... Everything’s not always going to be the way you plan it. But it turned out to be a good time.

  How have you changed since you’ve become a dad?   I would say all of my decisions now go through an Elijah filter. To say, you know, is this the best thing for Elijah? Whereas before it may be “Is this the thing that I want to do for my future?” or “Is this important to me or to Crystal?”, now the deciding factor is what’s the best thing for him.  [Being a dad has also] just made me more thoughtful of things, because it makes me kind of realize how much my own parents must have loved me. I think I appreciate that a lot more now that I understand how much I love him.

How have you changed since you’ve become a dad?

I would say all of my decisions now go through an Elijah filter. To say, you know, is this the best thing for Elijah? Whereas before it may be “Is this the thing that I want to do for my future?” or “Is this important to me or to Crystal?”, now the deciding factor is what’s the best thing for him.

[Being a dad has also] just made me more thoughtful of things, because it makes me kind of realize how much my own parents must have loved me. I think I appreciate that a lot more now that I understand how much I love him.

  What's the best piece of advice you've ever received about being a dad?   The best advice I've heard about being a dad is to listen. I interpret this as taking time out to stop and listen to what my son may be thinking, feeling, or trying to express and listening with a heart of love [and] understanding, [while] appreciating his perspective. And most importantly, listening to Mom because she always knows best! 

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received about being a dad?

The best advice I've heard about being a dad is to listen. I interpret this as taking time out to stop and listen to what my son may be thinking, feeling, or trying to express and listening with a heart of love [and] understanding, [while] appreciating his perspective. And most importantly, listening to Mom because she always knows best! 

FRANK GUIALDO, 40

FRANK GUIALDO, 40

father of Tesla, 2, and Baron, 4 months
floral designer and owner of men's apparel brand, SlyArt Vs. Robot City, in a partnership for 3.5 years

How did you feel when you found out you were going to be a dad?

I was super excited. I never really saw myself as a dad or being one. I knew that if that time happened I would definitely step up to the plate and be a responsible adult because that is what I received from my mom.

I grew up with my mom [as] a single parent. They broke up when I was like 5. My mom had me and five other children. It was kind of like a Brady Bunch, so I grew up knowing that feeling [of] being part of a unit. I knew that is what I would give to my kids.

  What’s been the difference between having a son and a daughter?   I guess the affection. My girl is just amazing to me. You know, men always say “I want a son, I want a son” but then you get a girl. And you’re just like, “Wow. I got a girl!” She’s so precious.  It’s that feeling of love that’s a little bit different. It’s the same [kind of] love to a boy, but a girl it’s more affectionate because you kiss them and hug them differently. 

What’s been the difference between having a son and a daughter?

I guess the affection. My girl is just amazing to me. You know, men always say “I want a son, I want a son” but then you get a girl. And you’re just like, “Wow. I got a girl!” She’s so precious.

It’s that feeling of love that’s a little bit different. It’s the same [kind of] love to a boy, but a girl it’s more affectionate because you kiss them and hug them differently. 

  What’s been your proudest moment as a dad so far?   Watching my children grow and seeing new things that I didn’t know about, like calling me daddy as soon as I walk in the door. Really, just [being called] “daddy.” It’s just like “Yeah.”  (Smiles)

What’s been your proudest moment as a dad so far?

Watching my children grow and seeing new things that I didn’t know about, like calling me daddy as soon as I walk in the door. Really, just [being called] “daddy.” It’s just like “Yeah.” (Smiles)

PETER STAUBS, 27

PETER STAUBS, 27

father of River Mae, 2
videographer, married for two years

Can you tell us the story behind River’s name?

My wife [stylist] LaTonya was just thinking of names and she told me that she liked the name River a lot for a boy or a girl. I said, “Well that sounds pretty cool, but maybe we’ll think about some other names and maybe I’ll have some ideas.” But by the end of the day I [thought], "That was a really good name. I like that, I like it a lot."

ΔΔΔ

  What parts of yourself do you see in your daughter?   My wife and I are equally present. She has my smile, my goofy faces, maybe her eyes. She’s goofy like me, and then her mom is sassy and she’s sassy like that. My hair is kind of curly and my wife has natural black hair so it’s like of a combination of that. I wish I had her hair—it’s really cool, very curly.

What parts of yourself do you see in your daughter?

My wife and I are equally present. She has my smile, my goofy faces, maybe her eyes. She’s goofy like me, and then her mom is sassy and she’s sassy like that. My hair is kind of curly and my wife has natural black hair so it’s like of a combination of that. I wish I had her hair—it’s really cool, very curly.

  What’s the hardest thing about being a dad?   When she gets hurt, that’s hard. And doing the right thing for her when she’s not in the mood to do it. But it hasn’t been that hard. 

What’s the hardest thing about being a dad?

When she gets hurt, that’s hard. And doing the right thing for her when she’s not in the mood to do it. But it hasn’t been that hard.