So far so good for Serge Haddad on this whole fatherhood thing.
Haddad, P.E., M.ASCE, has enjoyed a busy professional life – manager of the Water Recycling Policy Group for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, along with stints as the ASCE Committee for Younger Members chair and Los Angeles Younger Member Forum president.
But the birth of his first child, Maxwell, on Dec. 3, 2014, hasn’t disrupted his career. Being a dad seems to have set his life into a remarkably happy balance as he celebrates Father’s Day this weekend with wife, Kristel, and young Max.
“From college graduation to age 35 now, there were certain things I wanted to get done so that I was better prepared to be a dad,” Serge said. “I think Kristel and I, we’re pretty good planners. We knew what kind of goals we had in our lives and what we needed to do to achieve those goals before we started a family.
“It’s really more of a guideline. Not everything is guaranteed when you plan. Like I didn’t know when I was going to meet my wife and fall in love. But, you know, you just kind of hope.”
Serge is rather humble about how they’ve made it work day-to-day.
Every morning, Serge leaves for work early while Kristel wakes up with Max. Then Kristel’s mother, Leila, arrives to watch Max so Kristel can leave for work. Did we mention that Kristel is a full-time attorney?
“I’m fortunate to have a great wife. She’s an amazing mother,” Serge said. “I don’t know how she does it all. She’s the reason I’m able to accomplish everything I’m working to accomplish.”
It’s a team effort
Serge comes back from his job around 4:30 to relieve his mother-in-law. Kristel’s father, Frank, and siblings, Anthony and Jennifer, help babysit, too.
“They’re a great team,” Serge said. “We have a pool of amazing volunteers that help us.”
None of this is accidental, though.
Serge and Kristel began planning a decade ago. Serge made sure to earn his master’s degree, establish himself within ASCE, form a political action committee called Civil Engineers for Infrastructure, work hard and promote to a manager – all before fatherhood.
He was 33 when Max was born, the same age his father, Michael, was when he became a father. Not coincidence, as Serge says, “I know what my relationship with my dad is like, and I wanted the same experience with my kid.”
The urge to plan ahead might also come from Serge’s childhood experience. He was born in Lebanon and the civil war there forced his parents to move the family to Sacramento.
“That kind of stayed with me that my family survived different hardships and worked really hard,” Serge said. “It helped me focus and think, ‘Hey, I need stability in my life to do the things I want.’”
So after a week of work at a conference in New York City, Serge has his wife and son flying in to meet him for Father’s Day.
“Our world completely revolves around Max,” Serge said.