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There’s a scene in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 where Peter Quill (aka Star-Lord) is sitting in his starship listening to some tunes on his “new” Zune. Baby Groot climbs up on Peter’s lap and asks for the headphones to listen along with him. In that moment, a quiet yet powerful transformation takes place for Peter as he realizes the gravity of what it means to be a parent.
At the press conference for Guardians, Chris Pratt (Peter Quill) shares what was going through his character’s mind during that scene:
“I’m thinking about the relationship I had with the man who raised me (Yondu, played by Michael Rooker), and it’s in that moment I realize that I’ve now entered the chapter in my life where I’m going to be the man who’s raising somebody,” he notes.
It’s safe to say Pratt could easily be connecting Quill’s sentiments to his own experience with his sweet son, Jack. He continued:
“And you know, I’m going to have to make some choices on how I’m going to be, what I’m going to take with me, because that’s how I was raised and also what I won’t do because that’s how I was raised. And I think that’s sort of the journey that every parent will take when they have a kid, and I think Quill kind of gets to that.”
Hearing Pratt say those words, I couldn’t help but think of my own similar moment of realization. My wife Cassie and I had been preparing for the birth of our baby girl Emma for nearly nine months. Even before that, we had talked about having a child of our own. When I married my wife, I also became a stepparent to her daughter, Eve. I cherished her, but I wasn’t prepared for the shift that happened the moment I first held Emma’s hand.
She had been born mere minutes before and was sitting in a warming station as they were cleaning her off. I placed my pinkie finger inside of her tiny hand and she immediately grabbed hold of it. It was then, I knew: it was my time to make those decisions for my life and for hers. It wasn’t that I hadn’t given my all to Eve, but like for Peter in the film, I realized that, like my father was to me, I was now the father to this child. As parents, we all experience this revelation whether your child is yours through biology, adoption, or marriage.
Which is not to say I haven’t made my share of mistakes (sorry, girls), because I have. Each of your children is different and sometimes need you to be a different dad to them. Eve is lucky to have her biological dad active in her life so for her, I have more of a supporting role. But for Emma, I’ve been her primary caregiver since birth. Having had the privilege of being a stay-at-home dad for nearly the first two years of her life, my role is different.
But who I am and what I bring to the table is all up to me.
As a father, you can only prepare so much. You can read books, go to parenting classes, and attend support groups, but eventually the training wheels come off and you’ve just got to step up and do it. You’ll fall down at times (again, sorry girls) and you’ll make mistakes. But if you get up and learn from the past, carrying with you what helped you succeed while leaving behind what held you back, you’ll be a better parent for it … at least I hope so.
You’ll have to ask my own Baby Groot someday.