“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike.”
John F. Kennedy.
If you’ve been following the series of 2Roll Portraits, you’ve already met today’s interviewee’s partner Jess. I was excited to sit down and hear Ronan’s perspective on their recent change from married couple to parents. I met with Ronan right as he was about to begin a month-long FMLA belated paternity time at home with his daughter.
To start our conversation, we discussed the life of new parents and how he and Jess had been adjusting to the rigors of this new lifestyle. One thing that surprised Ronan in the time after their daughter’s birth was that he didn’t feel he was able to connect with her as well as he wished. He was more in a support role to Jess as she did the primary caretaking with the little one. That isn’t to say that he had nothing to do with it.
If you ever talk to Ronan, you’ll understand quickly his connection to an active lifestyle and how that also facilitates his deep thoughts on life. He usually likes to think during his workouts. It’s always been a place for decompression, but also to prepare himself for the other duties in his life. But, as with so many other elements of fatherhood, that need feels a little different. It is a time that feels more intentionally clarifying, but he also noted that at the end of the run, his desire to be a good partner kicks in and he wants to get home to be with Jess.
In talking to Ronan, you see his excitement in using his own interest in the outdoors as a tool for connecting with his daughter. He was very excited that his daughter was almost old enough for running strollers and bike trailers. It will move from being a time that is for his own needs to one where he can scratch that outdoors itch, but do it while sharing these favorite things with his daughter.
The differences between his and Jess’ personalities really showed in the way that they dealt with the unknown issues in their daughters’ needs. He felt that they both sought solutions to her cries by looking at different routes to the same end, that of a happy, sleeping baby. In our conversation, Jess had talked about using the scientific method to fix it. She talked about a thought process to “if A doesn’t work, try B,” while Ronan wanted to look back through the last few hours and try to see the deficiencies and what could have caused her unrest. Both say that one isn’t better, but it just shows how they look at an issue in different ways.
Similarly, they both found themselves dealing with their own missteps in different ways. Oddly enough, both told me the same two stories with the same conclusions. Jess mentioned that they were at a restaurant and while their daughter was in her arms, she threw her head back and hit it on something. Jess immediately felt bad that she had let this happen and wasn’t watching out for the good of her daughter. Obviously, the little lady was fine and Ronan really worked hard to reassure Jess that it wasn’t her fault. A few days later, they were getting ready to leave and their daughter was unleashing a piercing scream on the household. In a moment that he immediately regretted, Ronan exasperatedly exclaimed that the little one needed to be quiet just as Jess walked into the room. It was then her moment to remind him that he is a good dad and it’s just a moment of release. The point of the stories isn’t to make them both look like terrible people or to even show the normal challenges of infants, but to be thankful for the support that each can offer the other amidst a changing moment in their lives.
With his upcoming paternity month, Ronan discussed how this idea was something foreign to his parents. They kept making jokes about how “you won’t even remember what work is like by the time you get back.” In that, we started talking about the differences between generations in the way that we view work. We talked about how there is a growing viewpoint that work isn’t the end, but rather the means to live the life and be the person you really want to be. It’s a push against the often masculine effort of striving to work more and more so you can someday not work. As a doctor, he is seeing a new issue arise in the medical community where clinics and hospitals are trying to figure out how to hire people for less than full time because there are doctors pushing against the cliche view of doctors who work infinite hours and put their clients before their own families.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t people who still are hustling and striving every minute to make sure that they feed their families, but that in a generation that pushes back against the idea of being defined by their occupation, Ronan truly believes that “there are things that are better than working.” The idea of trying to define ourselves is something we hate. I want to be defined as the complete version of myself, not just one of those things. “I’m Ronan. A guy who really likes to run and ride his bike and spend time with his wife and his daughter, and who happens to be a doctor. That’s how I think about myself. These activities I like… My family that I’m going to devote everything to and oh that thing I do that allows me to make the money to do all those other things.”
Thank you again to Ronan for a great conversation. As we are diving into parenthood, I appreciate hearing his ability to still be himself and be a parent in that.
For Ronan’s photos, I chose to make the images on Kodak Portra 400 color film and Kodak TMax 100 film. Both of these are film stocks that are well known for their clarity, depth of colors and reality, all words that I’d use to describe Ronan as well.
If you’re interested in being the subject of a 2Roll Portrait session, send me an email. I love hearing who you are, what makes you unique and try to make some portraits that tap into that just a little bit.
Joe Tobiason | Seattle Wedding Photographer | Ronan