Too often, I hear the generalization that dads don’t like to open up about their experiences as parents. I completely disagree! I wish those same people would be a “fly on the wall” at some of our educational workshops where dads are chomping at the bit to vent frustrations, share best practices, and question things about parenting they don’t understand. You may have realized that recently we are trying to shatter this misperception by featuring more dad contributors to lend their diverse voices on topics many people did not realize dads talk about. If you still believe that dads can’t open up about parenting, read this powerful guest blog contribution by NYC Dads Group member, Roi LeGar, where he expresses that frustration, pain, anger, happiness and the tears he experienced recently as a father has really helped him be a better person with his family…and hopefully he can share and help others through his own experience. – L.S.
Dear Readers of NYC Dads Group,
Here is a little bit about me or rather a lot. I am a 35 year old dad (Andrew is 26 months now) and husband. I graduated from college in ’99 and worked as a NYC Elementary School teacher and left teaching after three years because I felt it wasn’t “my right fit”. After teaching I went into various sales jobs until I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. In 2010, a year into our son being born, after carefully researching my next career step, I finally decided on a career as a Commercial Airline Pilot. The benefits were appealing! Free travel, lots of time off, decent salary in the long haul and fulfilling my childhood dream of flying planes. We figured, why not! We waited for my wife to finish her Doctorate in May 2011, for me to then leave work that same month and begin school in June of 2011. Things were going great with school and my in-laws were doing an awesome job taking care of our boy Andrew, while I went to school full time. It was the first time anyone other than myself had taken care of Andrew. I have always had the blessing of taking care of Andrew since he was born. I would take care of him during the day and afternoon and then work evenings seven days a week. It was a grueling schedule but it was our only option because getting a nanny meant that I was only working to pay the nanny and not a dime left over for us from my pay. That just didn’t make any sense for our family. Never did we imagine what would come next!
After a couple months of great results in flight school, towards mid-summer, we noticed our son, Andrew feeling and acting weird. Naturally, we rushed him to the doctor and our pediatrician suggested taking him to the Emergency Room…and that is where our lives were forever changed. We were stunned when we were told that our bubbly & energetic Andrew Aidan had a Brain Tumor called Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor (AT/RT). Basically, that was the first time in my life in which I really wanted to die. Unimaginable, incomprehensible fear flashed before my eyes and swept through my body and soul. Fading away were the dreams of having father & son hiking trips, teaching him how to drive, how to read girl’s body language or just kicking the soccer ball around. Well that’s where my dream of being a pilot was grounded, at least temporarily, because I had to leave school and be Andrew’s fulltime dad and caregiver once again. Only this time a whole new element was part of the equation, cancer. I always joke that he must have liked the way I took care of him and had to have his Dad back.
After countless surgeries, chemotherapy treatments and radiation treatments we appear to have won the battle with the brain tumor which is awesome but as of last month he now has two small growths of the same tumor on the top and lower part of the spine. Just when we thought things were getting better. He has been an amazingly strong and willful boy, sometimes going through treatment without a hitch but we have been hitting some very hard road bumps lately and will not stop being loving or positive for him. We are still fighting and will continue to do so because we believe we have already won this war against cancer.
Sorry for the longer than usual note but our situation has not been one within the norm lately. I find myself with a lot of time at night wishing to do something maybe write and that’s why I am sending this letter. The amount of frustration, pain, anger, happiness and tears you experience with this type of situation has really helped me be a better person with my family and hopefully I can share and help others through my experience.
Roi LeGar is a former NYC Elementary School Teacher with a B.A in Elementary Bilingual Education. He is married to his wonderful wife Michelle, a Nurse Practitioner, and is father to two boys, an amazing 26 month old boy Andrew Aidan and a 3 year old Bichon Frise, Beemer Roosky. Roi and his family live in Astoria, Queens and he enjoys photography, aviation, writing, music, hiking, traveling and spending time with the family. He hopes to finish flight school once Andrew is Cancer Free.