Paul R. Lucas, MD

Dr. Lucas is a dad of 13-, 11-, and 8-year-old children and  a surgeon with the Vascular Center at Mercy in Baltimore, Maryland.

What was the biggest challenge you faced while your wife was pregnant, and how did you overcome it? The biggest challenge was physically being there through all the trials and tribulations during the pregnancy. Although today we have technology to “see” one another via streaming or other modalities, I didn’t have that available. Given the demands of my schedule and my on-call demands, I would try to call my wife as much as possible—even if only for a quick “hello,” or “I just wanted to check on you,” or “I want you to know that I’m thinking about you.” Although I could not always be there physically, I made it a point to be there emotionally for my wife and for us. I helped quite a bit. Then, on the weekends and evenings off, I would try to make the best of the time we had together.

What’s the most surprising lesson that being a dad has taught you? Being a dad has taught me a lot about myself. I have learned, and am still learning, to be more patient. I find that this is a continual battle. As a surgeon, I’m used to getting things done “yesterday,” so to speak. My kids continue to teach me humility and always bring a smile to my face. It’s an amazing feeling to look into your child’s eyes and see a reflection of yourself. All of the things that my parents said to me in my youth, the same things I rejected at that time, are being rejected to me.

For instance, I’ll tell my kids to put on a jacket or sweater as it’s cool outside, and they ignore me and run out the door. I can just see my mother laughing at me and saying, “I told you, what goes around comes around.” How true is that? So, wow! Parents really do know what’s best.

The most surprising thing I’ve learned though is what unconditional love is. When each of my children was born, that instant, having not even known them but only for a moment, I would give or do anything for them. It’s a truly amazing and remarkable thing.

What’s the one bit of advice about fatherhood you wish someone had given you much earlier? The best advice I can give is to just be patient and don’t brush them off when you think that they are asking too many questions. Kids are inquisitive and are a sponge when it comes to learning. As their parents, they look to us for answers to everything. Take the time and enjoy the moment. They grow so fast, and eventually they will come to you less and less. So take every opportunity to be with them now!

What’s the one thing about being a new dad that shouldn’t be missed? Take the time and be there for the birth of your child. There isn’t anything like it. You can always get someone to cover you at work. Life is what we make of it, so just make the time and be there. You’ll never regret it, but you’ll always regret it if you miss it.

What’s the most overrated thing about fatherhood? I would have to say sleep is overrated, or that’s what I used to say as a coping mechanism for why I couldn’t seem to get enough of it. Night-time feedings, bouncing, and caring for my newborn at 2 am while they were wide awake was tough, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Given my schedule, this 2 am escapade was my one-on-one time: Mommy asleep, house quiet, just me and my child embracing.

Why are fathers important? I think that fathers are the male role model to children. What we do, what we say, and how we as men interact with mom, them, and everyone sets the tone to our kids as how men are supposed to act in general. It’s so important to set that standard for our kids, especially in interacting with the opposite sex in upholding acceptable standards.

Career, marriage, kids … how does a guy stay sane? It’s important to have hobbies outside of work. It’s easy for our careers to engulf our lives: Don’t let that happen. At times we feel overworked, working long hours, etc., make the time for other things that one finds enjoyable and perhaps even relaxing.

Profile by Wyatt Myers

Dr. Lucas’s Q&A

How do you balance work and family?