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My Son, My Hero: Becoming the Dad I Never Had
by Jaquann Holley
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minutes

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March 2, 2020

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7 Minute Read

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My Son, My Hero: Becoming the Dad I Never Had

Courtesy of Jaquann Holley

On October 1, 2010, my life changed in a way that is still indescribable. My son Jayce was born, and my love and admiration for him simply can’t be put into words. Welcoming Jayce into the world ignited a passion in me to be the best father and even to fill a massive void because I grew up fatherless. During Jayce’s toddler years as our father-son bond deepened, so did our love for reading and storytelling together.

One particular day, while playing in the park, Jayce prompted me to make a story about our “adventure.” So young with a wild imagination. Jayce insisted on the idea of channeling our many after school experiences into a book. In my quest to be a super dad, I attached myself to the curiosity of the idea and made a valued effort to try and figure it out. The concept challenged both of us in more ways than one to take a simple thought and escalate it to the next level. 

In my quest to be a super dad, I attached myself to the curiosity of the idea and made a valued effort to try and figure it out.

Courtesy of Rainier Rickards

Our journey from turning a passion project into reality was both exhilarating and challenging, but most importantly, a bonding moment etched into our memory. What started as the two of us bouncing ideas and dialogue off each other created months of trial and error. But “Dreams Come True” and fast-forward to the present day, and we did it! We made the vision come to life and, in the process, became the ultimate dynamic duo, “Jake and Jayce.” 

These are the memories I always longed for as a child but unfortunately never received from my father growing up. The excitement on my son’s face said it all. I was now a real-life superhero in Jayce’s eyes. As a Black father in today’s society raising a young Black boy, I believe it’s important to nurture our children’s creative think tanks. Give them the tools, skill sets, and encouragement to showcase their talent, boost their confidence, and solidify their greatness. 

Related: How I Learned to Wear the Title Father Proudly

From us doing readings at public schools to several speaking engagements, I’m pouring my all into securing our legacy. It’s helped me instill a sense of inspiration and a mantra into my 9-year-old son that “you can do anything” and conceptualizing this project was living proof of just that. I hope that our strong bond and organic chemistry will spark an influential effect on other father-son relationships. When I sat down with Jayce for this interview, I was reminded how much he’s changed my life without even trying. The biggest reward is being his father.

Jayce Holley: How has being my dad changed you?

Jaquann A. Holley: I believe becoming a parent enhanced all of the qualities I already possessed. I prayed to God for you and made a covenant with him that upon your arrival, I would do my absolute best to always be there for you. Once you arrived, I was mentally prepared for the challenge of guiding you along this journey of life. Although parenting is a difficult task, it makes me have a greater appreciation for spending quality time with those I love.  

These are the memories I always longed for as a child but unfortunately never received from my father growing up.

Courtesy of Jaquann Holley

JH: Did you have any fears of becoming my father? 

JAH: Yes, living up to the standard of what it means to be a great dad. I did not want to fail you in any way. I wanted to be present at every school performance, doctor’s appointment, or basketball game, and I wanted you to see my face every day of your life. Trying to replace the emptiness I had as a child helped me to gain an understanding that there is no standard of being a father. You work with what you have and do so with great intentions. It’s a process. You learn as you go and as you grow. 

JH: What are your dreams for me?

JAH: Life can be tough, so my dream for you is to be happy, healthy, and have peace of mind on this journey. I want you to never stop living, learning, and growing. Stay true to yourself. Always carry yourself with integrity and never settle. Continue building on our accomplishments and leave something behind for the world to remember who you are and what you represent.

Related: Sean Patrick Thomas Talks Fatherhood

JH: What did the process of writing our book together teach you about yourself?  

JAH: It taught me to see the silver lining of me not growing up with a father. If I didn’t have that void missing, I might have taken our relationship for granted, and our book may have never happened. It may sound crazy, but I wanted to prove myself to you. It also taught me the world is our oyster. By this, I mean you are surrounded by everything you need in this life. You just have to figure out how to utilize your resources. Building quality relationships helped to get many people on board and help us complete this project.

JH: Do you have a favorite book genre?

JAH: I’m into non-fiction books, and I have a keen interest in learning more about our Black history. Being a graduate of Virginia State University, which is an HBCU, I’ve always been into researching our ancestors and historical events that have progressed our culture forward. I enjoy reading up on these stories now more than ever to not only learn for my selfish knowledge but also to teach you your history and the immense pride that comes along with it. 

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