Dr. Jimmy Walters was able to share his thoughts on fatherhood with me. We talk about his fatherhood journey and the values he looks to instill into his kids. After that we talk about his book, Batter Up: Answering the Call of Faith and Fatherhood. Lastly we finish the interview with the Fatherhood Quick Five.
Dr. Jimmy Walters On Fatherhood
Art Eddy: What popped into your mind when you found out you were going to be a dad?
Dr. Jimmy Walters: Although I always wanted to be a dad, my first reaction was shock and then fear. All of a sudden my apartment and bank account felt too small. Soon, I realized that my heart was more than big enough to be a dad.
AE: What are some of the core values you look to instill in your kids as they are growing up?
DJW: The top 3 would be empathy, kindness, and love. Helping my daughters learn that everyone is trying their best, and we all are learning in the process. The ironic aspect of all of this is how they remind me of these values by how they live and show love to all. I am a better person because of them.
AE: What is something that you learned from your kids about yourself or about life in general?
DJW: They teach me how to be present. Fully present. I find this is most true at those middle of the night diaper changes. I just marvel at the miracle before me. My mind is saying, “you should be so tired,” or start to think of all my responsibilities that next day, but then I look into their eyes, and I fall in love all over again. As I clean them up and help them fall back to sleep, I sense my purpose in that moment. It then helps me during the day to be present and then, grateful.
AE: What is the one biggest piece of advice you have for new dads?
DJW: Take lots of photos and videos. Yes, be present but also grab a few photos each day. Then, at the end of the day, take a few minutes to “relive” it all over again. If you have more time, look back at those memories from past years as the kids get older. It goes by so fast, so taking these moments to reflect and be grateful help me stay fully present to the preciousness of this time. I know it will not be like this for long.
Dr. Jimmy Walters On His Book
AE: What inspired you to write Batter Up: Answering the Call of Faith and Fatherhood?
DJW: There were two major reasons. The first was in 2019 when my wife had a miscarriage. I couldn’t find any resources that helped me find solidarity to soothe the pain. In addition, I knew then I would write about it from a father’s perspective down the road. I give a chapter to this moment from my life in the book.
The second reason was during the start of the pandemic. My second child was born in the heart of the pandemic in Queens, NY, and all of a sudden my own mortality stared me right in the face. I also worried deeply about my wife’s health and that of my children.
I worked very hard on my mental health and spiritual life (I still do), but I also needed an outlet to attempt to capture my love of being a dad. Batter Up was born from this, and then I just had a blast writing about what I love the most.
AE: What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
DJW: I hope readers are reminded of how incredible this time is right now. That doesn’t mean it is always going to be easy, and that you are not going to battle some of your own demons (for me they are anxiety, self-doubt, fear). But, in it all, we are trying our best and to live up to the love these kids just naturally reveal to us.
I also hope my fellow dads feel a greater sense of solidarity and community. By this resource, and so many others (including this wonderful platform), we can together support one another as we live and learn together.
AE: What does your family think of the book?
DJW: They are so excited. My wife, Suzie, helped me edit it and shared input (as well as so much of her own story) as this book was developed. My kids were jumping up and down when the first copies arrived. They loved seeing their name in print, and I pray when they get older and read it, they will find that my actions lived up to these words. I am also blessed with incredibly supportive parents, family, friends, and colleagues and the team at New City Press who believed in this book and in me, from day one!
The Fatherhood Five
AE: Do you guys have a favorite family movie that you all love to watch together?
DJW: There are a few. Encanto has dominated our home since Christmas. Sound of Music had a good run last year.
AE: Do you guys have a favorite song that you all like to sing to or dance to as a family?
DJW: Yes, we have music playing all the time. We are big country music fans, so Zac Brown Band and Sugarland get a lot of playtime. When we need a pick-me-up, we play “Girls just want to have fun,” (I am outnumbered for this one), and my favorite is “My Girl” by the Temptations. Before a big Mets game, we also play “Meet the Mets,” and “Centerfield.”
AE: Describe the perfect family vacation.
DJW: A balance for everyone’s needs to be met. My wife would love time to hike or see something historical. My daughters would want French fries, time to play, and see loved ones. I would like some time to relax, have a nice meal, and just enjoy seeing my kids and wife having fun.
AE: Favorite baseball player is….
DJW: Mike Piazza is my favorite all-time player. When he was traded to the Mets in 1998, my fandom went to a whole new level. My favorite current players are Jacob DeGrom and Pete Alonso. They are sure fun to watch!
AE: What are three words that you hope your kids would use to describe you as a dad?
DJW: Loving, Available, and their Biggest Fan.