RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Time now for StoryCorps, and a look at what it's like being a new dad. Jennifer Wells recently brought her father Steven to a StoryCorps booth in Macon, Georgia. She asked her father to look back on the day she was born, 27 years ago, and how he felt about becoming a father.
Mr. STEVEN WELLS: I was scared to death.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. WELLS: Your mother had to stay in the hospital for a week, and I had to bring you home by myself. I mean, I'm a blue-collar kind of guy. I've worked in factories and construction. I was a firefighter. And I've got a little baby girl in the house. What am I going to do with this? I'm afraid I'm going to break it. It's so tiny and so helpless. I was 29 years old and acting like I was 19. And all of a sudden, I had to grow up.
Ms. JENNIFER WELLS: I'm glad you didn't grow up too much. I was an only child, so, you know, like, you were my playmate.
Mr. WELLS: I tried to be the father to you that my father never was to me.
Ms. WELLS: Mm-hmm.
Mr. WELLS: I'll never forget, when I was about 10 years old, I was asking my dad to go out and play baseball with me. And he didn't want to go out with me. And my mother started bugging him. Come on, Bill. Go out and play with the boy.
And I'll never forget hearing my dad say: Jesus Christ, Kay. I'm the boy's father. If he wants to play with somebody, he can go up the street and play with one of the other kids. And I just said: I'm not going to be that kind of father.
We had my old Air Force duffle bag full of Frisbees and soccer balls, baseballs, footballs.
Ms. WELLS: Yeah. I loved that bag.
Mr. WELLS: And we'd drag it down to the park. You were always my buddy.
But shortly after you were born, things changed between your mother and me. So I hung in there as long as I could, and when I finally told you that your mother and me were breaking up, we took a walk. And I was in tears trying to tell you that I wasn't going to be living at home anymore. And you know what you told me? It was one of the most heartwarming things I'd ever heard. You put your arm around me and you said: Dad, it's OK. Lots of my friends are divorced. I'll get through it. I'm worried about you.
Ms. WELLS: Oh.
Mr. WELLS: You said that to me, and I've never forgotten that. You know, I loved you more than myself. And you are living proof that it was worth it.
Ms. WELLS: And I love that you've stayed so close, too.
Mr. WELLS: You were asking me at lunch if I had any regrets, and I thought about it and, you know, guilt sucks. There are things that I wish had happened differently, or things that didn't happen. But you make it all worthwhile.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Ms. WELLS: Thank you.
Mr. WELLS: I am honored to be your father.
Ms. WELLS: I love you.
Mr. WELLS: And I love you, more than you will know.
(Soundbite of music)
MONTAGNE: Steven Wells, with his daughter Jennifer in Macon, Georgia. Their interview will be archived along with all StoryCorps interviews at the American Folk Life Center at the Library of Congress. The project's podcast is at npr.org.
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