Maurice DuBois: Breaking News and Raising a Baby
|Photo: Jon Paul Lomonaco, WCBS TV
Chances are you recognize Maurice DuBois from TV. The 42-year-old Long Island native is the popular coanchor for CBS 2 News This Morning, and he also occasionally serves as guest anchor for the weekend editions of The CBS Evening News Hour and The Saturday Early Show. Though the diehard Yankees fan boasts 21 years of experience in the news business, he admits he's still learning the ropes of his newest and most important position to date—that of being a father. In April 2008, Maurice and his wife Andrea welcomed their first child, son Brandon James, into the world. He recently took some time out of his hectic (and often sleepless) schedule to talk to NYC Dads about both the rewards and challenges of new parenthood.
Is there any significance to your son's name?
We just liked the name Brandon, and James is my father-in-law's first name, so it kinda works nicely.
And how about your own father? Were you close to him while growing up?
Yes, and I still am.
What are some of your favorite memories of things you used to enjoy doing together?
My dad spent a lot of time working with me on my schoolwork. As a matter fact, it was my dad who suggested I take a journalism class in high school and that led me into this whole thing. And my dad is a huge fisherman. He loved fishing, but I don't have a good sea stomach so we would spend a lot of time at the pier fishing together. That was one thing that we really loved to do. And he'd always be there for our baseball games and basketball games. Dad was always there.
What's been the most important life lesson you've learned from him?
I think it was the importance of hard work, of supporting your family. Sidney Poitier wrote a book, The Measure of a Man, and the bottom line in that book was a guy who supports his family, who goes out and works and takes care of his family. That's a measure of a man. I think by osmosis, I learned that from watching my dad. He never really said that, but it was clear. His main focus was providing for us. He'd really bust his butt.
When I was really small, his main focus was getting a college degree. He'd get up early to study, then go to work from 9 to 5, and then go to night classes. He got his associate's, his undergrad, and his master's degrees in business through night school. He'd come home at the end of the night and fall asleep in his books, and then get up and do it all over again the next day. So I learned by watching his work ethic and drive and determination. There really wasn't a word spoken about it, but it was what it was. You observed it, and absorbed it, and I just sort of adopted at least some of it. I don't think I can pull all that off, but I respect it. I mean, I like staying busy. But he set the standard.
So what's been the toughest life lesson you've ever learned from him?
I think a funny one is when he'd ask me, "Have you done your homework?" And I'd say, "Yeah." And then he'd say, "Well, what about tomorrow's homework? Have you done that?" And there was a lesson there. It was in jest, but what it also meant is that if you're not thinking ahead, you're gonna fall behind. And I didn't realize that until I was maybe 30 or so. I thought, wow, there's something to that. Many lessons creep up on you later in life and you start sounding and thinking like your parents at some point. It's a very scary thing, but it's real!
And now that you're a new father yourself, what's been the most surprising adjustment you've had to make?
All I wanted, and my wife did, too, was for our son to come into the world happy and healthy. That's all you're thinking about. You just want this little guy to be healthy. For the hospital, it's a pretty routine thing, but to a first-time parent, it's a big deal and it's so awesome and so scary all at once. So everything's been a surprise, like, oh my gosh, he cries a lot! Oh my gosh, he's always hungry! And you have to change him all the time! It's been sort of a joyful discovery each and every day. He needs 25 hours a day attention and my wife is really the one who's doing almost all of it. But on the weekends and at night, I try to hang out with him as much as I can as well. It's just a wonder to see him discover everything and to see his reaction to things.
You gave a quote in a recent interview about what it's like to cover a breaking news story. With some slight paraphrasing, it read: "It's like a high-wire act. It requires all of your faculties. It's a heightened state. The information is often sketchy, conflicting, unclear, and you're learning things on the spot. You accept that you don't have control; you just have to work with it. And there's a certain thrill in pulling it off." Sound familiar?
That's right on the money for parenthood! It's not always on-the-spot that you have to have the answers if you're live on the air, but you are in a sense making it up as you go along, or reacting to it as you go along. And in parenthood, you're trying to figure it out: Why is he crying now? What is this all about? We just fed him! So you just go down your list of possibilities and you just sort of react, and hopefully you get it right.
Which is harder for you, covering a breaking news story or being a new dad?
Crying is a whole lot more difficult. Any day of the week. I spend afternoons with my son, and I'm wiped by the end of the afternoon. I'm like, what now? What do I do now? But it's an exhaustion in the most amazing way possible.
What's your biggest fear as a new father?
I try not to put fear into the equation. I try to eliminate fear! I just want to make sure I'm doing the right things, that he's getting the right nourishment, the right sleep, and he's meeting his expectations. But I'm not trying to think about fear. I don't think you really want to bring that into the mix.
Even with him being so young, why is spending time with Brandon so important to you?
There's a bond, and I think it starts very early on. What's really fascinating is the way that a newborn looks at you. You can be looking away or maybe talking to another adult or looking at the television or outside or whatever, but then you find his gaze sort of fixed on you. Apparently there are all these different messages and signals going on and taking place when his gaze is fixed on you and when you're both locked on each other. So you don't want to miss that. I'm not sure what he makes of all this or how he processes it, but he knows that this face is always going to be there. He needs to know that, and I think that's incredibly important.
Do you sense that he recognizes you when you come in the room?
I think so. I get the little toothless grin at this stage, and that just melts any parent. He looks at my wife and me and he must think, "These two are always there for a reason. There must be something going on here!"
You've obviously got very demanding work hours, so what difficulties do you have, if any, finding time to spend with your son?
There are days when I get home at 6 or 7 p.m., after having left the house at 4 a.m., and all I want to do is go to bed. But I also want to hang out with him. So it's just a bit of a balance. I know my wife's been with him all day, so she needs something of a break, if only for just a minute. It's fascinating talking to moms: They just want to take a shower. That's all they want to do. They just want to wash their hair! And it used to be that I could go home, lie around, and catch up on all sorts of reading. Now there's no more reading at home! I'm gonna start bringing books to my office and do that here, and then go home. So that's a daily challenge. It's a whole new time management matrix that you're working with and trying to get right.
Have you started reading books to the baby yet?
Yeah. We've done a fair amount. My wife's done more than I have, but we've started reading some very basic kiddie books. Like Horton Hears a Who. He sort of lights up. I think colors and the pictures grab a newborn's eyes. I'm not sure about the words necessarily, but as long as you can get it in there that words and books are important, and this is something that is part of what we do, I think that's a great start.
Do you remember your dad ever reading to you?
Back then, I think that was mom's gig. She read a lot to me and spent a lot of time with me reading. I mean, she taught me how to read at, like, 3. So I don't know if that was dad's thing, but he spent a lot of time demanding that I get into the books. He would photocopy work from my books and try to get me to work on the stuff I wasn't doing well in over time.
Where are some of your favorite places to go on walks with Brandon in New York?
It's fun to go through the park and see the trees, the birds, and the people. It's amazing the way people react to families with babies. Everybody loves a baby. They want to know how old he is and they'll ask you every single question possible. A newborn is the ultimate ice breaker.
You probably get recognized on the street a lot because of being on TV. Do you find that people are now noticing Brandon first and you second?
Oh, absolutely. I'm third! And I'm good with that. It's very nice. It's great the way people react to a baby. It's the coolest thing.
When your son gets older, what are some NYC sights are you looking forward to experiencing with him?
I was thinking about the Bronx Zoo the other day. I'd driven by it, and I was thinking I can't wait until we take him there. I'm also thinking maybe we should sneak him into Yankee Stadium before it shuts down. And the museums. My wife's dad is an artist and to just go to a museum and listen to him explain the art to Brandon and to us would be great. There's just so much culture in this town. I can't wait. I look forward to it all.
What's been the hardest thing about fatherhood for you so far?
Sleeping. We're working on him, and I think we're almost there. We're getting him to sleep about six hours a night now, which is pretty good. So I think that's the number one thing: sleep. Beyond that, you're just adjusting to a new life and a new person and the sort of constant needs that he has, but that's expected.
How about an embarrassing or humbling dad moment? Have you had any so far?
He hasn't gone off in public yet. I'm sure he will. Last night he cried for a while, but I think he was hungry and tired at the same time. Bad combination! So aside from normal diaper situations, there hasn't been many. I think he's too small to beat us down just yet. When he starts running, I'm sure there'll be a whole lot of other issues.
What are some things that make you proud to be a father?
I don't know what makes me proud, I just am. It's an exciting set of possibilities. I guess what you see is just a blank slate. You see endless opportunity, and you see a chance to give all that you have. You see a chance to get it right. Where you've made mistakes, you can guide, and you can teach and nurture to a point where he won't make those same mistakes.
What are some of the best parenting tips that your dad has passed on to you?
Trust your instincts. Everybody thinks, oh my gosh, this is the most incredible or most difficult thing. But you're not the first to go through it, so trust your instincts. There are people that'll do it far better than you, and there'll be people who'll do it far worse.
What's the best piece of advice that you could give other NYC Dads out there?
This is your offspring. This is your flesh and blood. These are little people who desperately need you in their lives. Moms are doing heroic jobs, but if dad is there, just think of how much better off your son or daughter is going to be.