My name is Greg Jennings. I am a long-time Democratic activist, current prosecutor, former legislative aide, and brand-new dad. I am running for Howard County Council District 3.
Becoming a Father
On March 8 of this year, I was attending a County Council Candidate forum. These gatherings give us a chance to share our vision as candidates, answer questions, and meet with voters individually to talk about their issues. In opening statements, after thanking my wife for coming, I joked that If I ran off stage, it wasn’t because it was a tough question, it was because my wife was in labor. Unbeknownst to me, my wife had begun having contractions. She didn’t want to tell me because she thought I was winning the debate. After an emergency c-section in the wee hours of the morning, I became a father. Clearly, I tempted fate.
Embodying the New Role
Since that day, I have been in awe of my daughter, Gillian Blake Jennings. I can say that being a father has made me a better candidate, and it will make me a better councilman if elected. Every day, I think about the kind of Howard County I want her to grow up in. That is not to say there are not sacrifices. A campaign is a full-time effort. From door knocking to sign waving, a campaign takes you away from your family.
Eye Opening World of Fatherhood
I am really looking forward to her getting a little bit older when I’ll be able to take her to more events. In addition to having her with me, I want my daughter to know that politics is for her too. Having a daughter has also opened my eyes to additional problems.
More Daddy Friendly Public Spaces
My wife and I have an “input-output” rule. She makes sure the baby is fed (input). I make sure Gillian’s diapers are changed (output). However, we have gone to several restaurants and other venues where I leave with the baby only to return because there is not a changing station in the men’s bathroom. Kelley will have to handle the diaper change. For single dads, families of just dads, or dads who are out without their partners, they do not have an option. I will work to see how we can get changing stations in all public places in Howard County.
Advice for Others
I am supposed to provide some words of wisdom here. As a new dad, I am not sure I have any particularly sage advice, and any wisdom comes from many trials and ever more errors, but here are a few things I have learned:
Check the diaper bag regularly.
It’s a dad’s swiss army knife. Extra diapers? Check. Extra outfits? Check. A well packed diaper bag makes all the difference when you’re out.
Don’t be ashamed to ask questions.
I have learned so much from talking to other parents. I think there’s a great deal of reluctance among men to ask for help, especially in child rearing.
Enjoy your inner goofball.
From silly songs to funny faces, I am Princess Gillian’s court jester. I love making my daughter smile. It’s one of my favorite parts of being a father so far. It’s also important to take the time to make your partner laugh. Childbearing is rough and making your partner laugh makes it a bit more bearable. My wife still chuckles when I joke about putting on my super comfy dad jeans and embracing “the fashion of my people.”