Being Dad: The Eternal Bachelor Turned Loving Dad of Two
Ted Jarrett didn’t plan on getting married or having kids. As a child of divorce, he didn’t see his dad much, was raised by his mother and grandmother and became content with the idea of being an eternal bachelor. That is until he met Meredith. The pair fell deeply in love, had a magazine worthy wedding in New Orleans, settled down in Austin, Texas and focused on growing their own businesses. They also began trying to grow their family.
Like many couples around the world trying to procreate, they were faced with an uphill battle. For nearly two years, Two Week Wait after Two Week Wait would come and go, with no positive result. After a miscarriage, they finally went to seek professional help.
Ted jokes, “It’s funny that you spend your entire adolescence and young adulthood trying not to have a baby, and then when you finally are in a place where you wouldn’t actually be horrible parents, you can’t make it happen.”
Even though the fertility process was scary for them, their doctor was awesome and made them feel at ease. Through IUI (intrauterine insemination) Meredith and Ted were able to conceive their daughter, Georgie, who is now four, and their son Jameson, who is nearly two. Today, they look like super hero parents, but Ted admits it wasn’t an easy transition.
I would like to say I was a rock and delivered everything Meredith needed during labor and delivery, but the reality was probably far from it. Looking back on the early memories, you’re just basically freaked out by every little thing before you become a parent. You take infant CPR and whatever other classes someone recommends on a blog or in a book. By the end of it, you are 100% aware that you have no idea what you’re doing. Meredith was incredible through both births, though. If I could give pre-dad Ted some advice, I’d say not to listen to too much advice. Don’t read the forum threads, don’t feel like you need to follow what your parents tell you – your kid is unlike any that have come before them. What works for you as the parents and helps your child feel the happiest may not be how someone you know handled a situation. Try, adapt, try again.”
When asked what the most unexpected thing about becoming a dad was, Ted was brutally honest when he answered, “Regret?”
“That’s a joke, sort of. Georgie had a triple whammy of torticollis, colic and severe reflux. She never slept, at all. We were a few weeks in and nearing the end of our rope when the comment, “What have we done?” was uttered. Then around week 11 or 12, we got the medicines fine-tuned to manage the reflux and she started sleeping for longer stretches. It would be too easy to say how much you love them – but the reality is, fear is the most unexpected feeling. As a parent you have fear for things that you’ve never, ever worried about.”
One of the many wonderful things about Ted is the compassion and humility he wears on his sleeve. Growing up surrounded by women, he never felt pressured to be super macho. Basically – those gender stereotypes we often see in TV shows and movies don’t come into play in his parenting game plan.
“If my kids love sports, great. I love them too. But I love taking Georgie to dance and if she wants to practice her routine, I’ll do it right along with her. I can’t speak for all dads, but I think most of them love what their kids love. If I lose some “man-points” for that, it’s okay, I can take the hit.”
It seems like everyday in the Jarrett household is filled with love and respect. Because both Meredith and Ted own their own businesses they don’t have the typical 9 to 5 schedules. Georgie and Jameson wake up early so they’re usually out of bed around 6am every morning. Coffee, milk, breakfast and it’s still two hours until school starts. As parents, they do a good job of splitting morning duties. Georgie attends a great preschool three days a week and Jameson keeps the kids in line at the park under the watchful eye of their nanny, who they were lucky to find early on. Ted gushes that she’s great and is now part of their family.
“She loves our kids like we do and it allows us to work on our businesses — and to do so without any regrets of not being at home.”
When asked about how he and Meredith share parenting roles, Ted says, “I think the trick is to do the best you can for your kids while keeping something for yourselves and avoid the big R in your marriage – resentment. Everyone has something that makes them happy regardless of how bratty your kids are being or if you’ve had a bad day at the office. You just have to recognize these moments and take over the parenting so your spouse can clear their head. Almost every day Meredith and I ask each other, “What can I do to make your day better?” It’s cheesy, but it works to just take one thing off of each other’s plates.”
This question also seems to make the elusive quest for “Work Life Balance” actually achievable for the couple.
“I’m incredibly lucky. My office is very close to our house, the kid’s school, and everything else that’s important in our lives. Having my own business, I have flexibility to do pick up and drop offs, run home to help the nanny with something, be the dad at dance – whatever it is. Meredith’s office is 15-20 minutes away, without Austin traffic, but it doesn’t matter because I love to do those things. However, there are times when I have to travel for work, and Meredith gets totally dumped on. She’s an awesome mom and doesn’t complain even though I know it’s so hard to manage all of it on your own.”
Fast Five with Ted
What’s your proudest dad moment?
I think it’s probably a tie between both kids making it to their first birthdays. That’s a huge milestone for some reason and completely arbitrary. The other would be recently when Georgie had her first dance recital. She can be very shy and she had practiced and practiced. I was so worried that she would see a full auditorium of people and freeze. She nailed it and was so proud of herself and her friends. I was just bursting with pride for her.
Favorite Austin activity to do with your kids?
There are so many, but they both love to go to the Austin Zoo. The animals there were rescued for one reason or another and it’s a really special place for us.
Do you have any important family traditions that you want to share with your children?
Not in the way of passing something down, per se. We do love to get together with family for certain holidays and our kids love that. I think what’s most important is that our kids get to know the important people in their parents’ lives.
What is one piece of advice given to you that has resonated in your life?
You can only be what you are. And I think we try to surround ourselves with that as much as possible. If you try to stray from that too much, that’s where people get into trouble. Take the gifts you’ve been given and be appreciative of them.
Describe your first Father’s Day in 3 words.
Best. Wife. Ever.
This piece was originally published on The Tot.