Mayor Steven Fulop sat at the head of a large table circled by chairs in a large conference room on the second floor of city hall. The walls were adorned with plaques framed articles, and documents from his inauguration. We weren’t there to chat about recent legislation or newly initiated programs but rather the most difficult and rewarding job he will ever have, fatherhood.
“I thought my responsibilities as mayor to 270,000 residents for the last five years would have prepared me for the role, but I quickly learned becoming a new father surpasses anything I could have imagined,” said Fulop who along with his wife Jaclyn welcomed their first born Jaxon this past January. “I’ve learned that every day is a new, unpredictable journey. I’ve learned that my life has changed forever, for the better. It’s been a steep learning curve, but Jaxon, Jaclyn and I are in this together. He’s been here 2 months now, and he’s already the boss of me.”
A journey of ups and downs
Fulop and his wife Jaclyn have had a long road to parenthood.
“We had a miscarriage in the second trimester before this pregnancy so it was a long road,” said Fulop. “I mean we thought we were out of weeds after first trimester and it was really difficult obviously. When she found out she was pregnant again we were hopeful but cautious because of that experience but we are ecstatic to be parents.”
Fulop said he feels being a parent and having a family is one of the most important parts of life and he had close friends and relatives who talked about it but didn’t understand how great it really was until Jaxon was born.
“My life has changed for the better,” he said.
When Jaxon was born he said doctors had some major concerns because when he was delivered there was a lack of a reaction from Jaxon.
“They took him to a side room and started cleaning him up and checking on him,” said Fulop. “ There were a lot of doctors working on him and I could tell if there was an issue or not. No one was saying anything and it was the first time in my life I felt so much concern. This person is part of you and you are part of him. I never experience anything like that in my life. Thankfully after the first couple of minutes everything was okay.”
Fulop recently got a tattoo on his forearm with an eternity symbol to not only commemorate his sons birth but also his brother Daniel who passed away last September from a heart attack at the age of 43 while away on business.
“It’s been a difficult couple months but one bright spot for my family is Jaxon,” said Fulop. “My mom always talks about the only time when she’snot sad is when she is with him. I see a little bit of Dan is in Jaxon.”
A balancing act
Fulop smiled and said he has been looking forward to being a dad and witnessing his child’s many millstones but being a parent is certainly difficult work.
“I mean I think now I’m the third most important person in my house,” laughed Fulop noting that he comes not only after Jaxon but also the family dog.
“It’s been hard,” he said more seriously noting that he and Jaclyn took parental leave and I we made the decision early on that they did not want help or nanny.
“We wanted to figure it out by ourselves and we though it would be good bonding time but it has its difficult certainly” noting that Jaxon is not sleeping through the night yet.
He said he is fortunate to have Jaclyn as a partner to help.
“Being a parent is tough and I definitely have a new appreciation for single parents who don’t have resources to have help. I don’t think you really can have that appreciation until you are a parent.”
He admitted that working fulltime as Mayor of Jersey City and being a dad is a balancing act.
“I’m still struggling and learning on what is best with the calendar and what I can and cant do, “ said Fulop who said normally if he was invited to an event he did his best to make it. Now he says he limits himself so that he can have a routine and be home to spend time with his son and help out.
“I’m very conscious now with my timeand trying to be thoughtful,” said Fulop who noted he used to be up at five a.m. and not back home until 8 or 9 some nights because he
“I want to be home and be fair to my wife who is home with him all day. I don’t want to put her in a predicament of me leaving in the morning getting home late and not be part of my son’s routine. Its been amazing to hang out with him even though he cant do anything yet I already see these little changes like how much bigger he’s gotten.”
He said so far he’s been doing a good job walking the tightrope so far saying he hasn’t missed any doctors appointments yet.
As for his sons future he said he is looking forward to Jaxon’smilestones such as his first smile but said he is trying to just be present in every moment.
“Everyone says this wont last forever, all of my friends say how quickly it goes by so I am trying my best to savor and appreciate every moment even times when he’s up at 2 or 3 in the morning. He wont always be this small. We’ve got to be thankful and enjoy it.” —JCM