He's not a professional athlete or a star of stage and screen. Fred Hope is a father who is just trying to do right by his son.
Fred's son, Thomas, is nearly 2 years old and loves the South Carolina Gamecocks, “Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood” and “Curious George” cartoons, visiting Hitchcock Woods to pick up sturdy walking sticks and seeing “neigh neighs” – his phrase for horses.
Fred and his wife Mara didn't even try to steer Thomas toward sharing their love for the Gamecocks; it just happened.
“He's a huge Gamecock fan by his own choice,” Fred said. “He says, ‘Go, go,' because that's what we (Mara and I) say sitting on the couch in the fall.”
Fred and Mara, who live in Aiken, met through a mutual friend and eight months later married on Aug. 20, 2011. Thomas was born on Aug. 28, 2012.
At one point, Fred was “thinking that (children) may not be a reality at that moment. I was making peace with it.”
When Mara became pregnant, Fred said he felt pure joy, but also questioned how being a dad might be.
“Everybody says life changes in that delivery room. That didn't happen for us. It was great, but it was sort of a progressive movement to where we are now.”
Fred and Mara are both children of church pastors. Fred is the director of student ministries at New Covenant Presbyterian Church and is close to finishing seminary at Erskine College.
“Your child is more of a commercial for your ministry than anything else,” Fred said.
Faith plays a large role in the lives of the Hope family. Having faith to trust is the most important lesson Fred said his father taught him.
“You're not going to be able to control everything,” he said. “(If Thomas is asked the same question years from now), my greatest hope is it'd be the same answer.”
The most important lesson Fred has learned on his own as a new father is the sacrificial nature of the role.
“It definitely makes my faith fleshed out. We want him (Thomas) to be independent, but for that to happen, we have to lose ours. We have to work for his good, as demanding as it is, and I say that with a smile. Parents are made all the better by this – made more patient, more loving,” Fred said.
Fridays are family day for the Hopes, which is something Mara sincerely appreciates. Her husband has done a good job in prioritizing to ensure he spends quality time with her and Thomas.
“Dads are a lot more hands-on these days, and Fred is always so involved. They (Fred and Thomas) have always had a good connection,” Mara said.
Haley Hughes is the news editor for the Aiken Standard.
Staff photo by Haley Hughes Thomas Hope, left, likes to look for the perfect walking stick in Hitchcock Woods. Fred Hope, right, helps.×
Staff photo by Haley Hughes Mara Hope and Fred Hope married in August 2011. Thomas Pope was born in August 2012. Pictured from left, Mara, Thomas and Fred.×
Staff photo by Haley Hughes Fred Hope spends some quality time with his son, Thomas, on a walk in Hitchcock Woods.×