EXCLUSIVE: Proud Family Man Doug Kramer On Welcoming Another Child & Settling Into Their New Home
"Has it really been 10 years already?" Doug Kramer asks quizzically, seemingly and charmingly unaware of how long he's been a father.
"Wow," he half says and half sighs, the look of accomplishment on his face giving away the realization he's just made.
See, the thing is, time flies when your heart is at its happiest. And for this proud family man, there's nothing—absolutely nothing—in this world, that makes him happier than knowing he's been a good husband to his wife, Chesca Garcia, and the best possible dad to his kids, Kendra, Scarlett, and Gavin.
As he celebrates his 10th Father's Day this year with Metro.Style, Doug dives deep into his wealth of experiences of fatherhood, shares what he loves most about dad duties, and reveals what it truly means to put family above all.
"I was 26 when Kendra was born. A lot of people thought I wasn't ready to be a dad, but when I got married, I was ready. Becoming a father for the first time with Kendra, then repeating the feeling with Scarlett and Gavin, is something that I can't explain. You have to become a father to understand it, to realize how special it is—even the sacrifices of watching your wife go through her pregnancy and the deliveries, all of that," begins Doug.
It's a feeling that has intensified as the years have gone by, with his children slowly but surely (the "slowly" aspect of things being one Doug wants to focus on—the prospect of sweet sixteens, proms, and debuts gives him anxiety) growing up to be the people that he and Chesca have raised them to become. His eldest, Kendra, is just about to turn 10 as of this writing, while Scarlett and Gavin are seven and six, respectively.
At 36 years old, and setting aside Doug's many successes as a public figure and professional athlete, his life's most defining moments have always been those that involve his family.
"I'm literally a guy who goes out to do his obligations, then I go home to spend time with my wife and kids," he shares.
"You have to become a father to understand it, to realize how special it is"
One might say that Doug was born to be a dad, but to be perfectly honest, he says, it wasn't something he gave much thought to until things he and his then-girlfriend Chesca began to imagine a serious, committed future together.
"I'm a very organized guy, but I deal with what's in front of me. I don't want to think too much into the future. With having kids, it wasn't in my plans then, but I knew I wanted to start right. I wanted to find a girlfriend, build a solid foundation, have a godly relationship, and then have a baby. That was the plan," he reveals.
It was a life plan that followed through nicely—a beautiful marriage, lovely kids, a house and pets, and everything in-between—and one that changed Doug's life forever.
Looking back at how much his brood has grown, he reminisces, "What really stood out in the early years [for all of my kids] is seeing how they didn't know how to talk, then suddenly, a lot of their firsts like words and steps happened. Then you repeat the same journey with the next child. And then there was that time when all three of them went to school. It was so weird in the house, walang tao. We need to have that 'beautiful noise' at home! It's the kind of feeling that I always look for."
But ask him today what his fondest memory of his family has been, and he'll pass on the question—there are simply too many moments sift through, all too special to funnel down into just one or two top picks.
Instead, Doug will be happy to tell you about the deeper impressions fatherhood has left on his mind and spirit (and body, too—having three kids piggyback on you at the same time is harder than it looks).
"With having kids, it wasn't in my plans then, but I knew I wanted to start right"
"Fatherhood is a gift and a responsibility that has to be fulfilled every day," he shares of his learning.
"You grow up thinking about yourself and how you're going to do this and that, and it's all about 'me.' Then suddenly your kids come and then everything you do is for them. You sacrifice everything for them. You want to teach them. You want to make sure that they have a solid foundation," he adds.
And making sure that Kendra, Scarlett, and Gavin turn out to be kindhearted, intelligent, and centered children has been a mission accomplished for Doug so far, one he considers to be one of his biggest achievements and his ultimate legacy.
Despite his appearance of being a fun-loving pop, underneath his silly exterior is the seriousness he takes in raising his children.
It's always been a must for his kids to know their responsibilities—chores, school work, and bedtime included—to be respectful in and outside the home, to recognize when fun has to stop for now and work comes in, and most importantly, to always find a time and place to nurture their faith. Without fail, Doug has always credited God for all the good things that have always come his way, and it's a humble outlook that he wishes to pass on to his kids.
"We're not saints in the family, but putting God as number one in your life is the main priority for us. I think that if the kids see that, and if they see how Chesca and I are towards each other—that we really base our relationship's foundation on God—for me, everything will follow. If they're going to have that kind of life, even when I'm not here anymore, everything will follow," Doug expounds.
"Fatherhood is a gift and a responsibility that has to be fulfilled every day"
All in all, Doug couldn't be prouder of the little ones in his life and as a result, the positive consequences of his approach to parenting.
"Seeing the kids grow, seeing their different personalities come out, wanting to leave a lasting impression to their kids and then seeing them show it when they interact with other people [are the most fulfilling things about being a dad]. It's also great when other people say that they're so respectful and [when you] get comments about how nice your kids are. That's very fulfilling. And their development from toddler-hood, to becoming young children—it's such a journey."
Like other fathers who adore their family, he takes the time to sit back, and simply watch, listen, and take in the sight before him: Kendra asking the grown-ups present at their photo shoot inquisitive questions, Gavin showing off his ever so slightly naughty side as he rolls around on the sofa cushions, and Scarlett trailing behind her brother and laughing out loud like there's no tomorrow.
It's such a precious time that he's done everything in his power to preserve this balance for as long as he can, the only thing he's unable to control being time and how his kids will eventually expand their social horizons to include other experiences that might not always require dad.
"Seeing the kids grow, seeing their different personalities come out, wanting to leave a lasting impression to their kids and then seeing them show it when they interact with other people [are the most fulfilling things about being a dad]"
In fact, how he deals with this is his number one tip for his fellow dads for how to nurture meaningful relationships with their kids: spend time with them whenever you can, wherever you can. And in those instances, get to know your children and really be present in the moment.
"What I do is I take them out on dates, one on one. Even if they want to stay with their siblings, I've learned as a father that you have to take out your children one by one... When you spend time with them this way, it's like you're spending time with them as if they're the only child. And you want to give that to them. You want to make them feel how it is, as if they were alone—all eyes on them, all attention on them," Doug advises.
"You spend as much time as you want with the kids, so that during the times that you are busy and can't, they'll look for it. It's a good problem... Your kids want your time! I would never want a day when the kids will tell me that they'd rather just spend time with their friends. Right now that they're still looking for it, I'm going to give it," Doug points out.
It's his favorite thing in the world: him looking forward to time with his kids, and his kids wanting the exact same thing.
It begs the question that many dads can sometimes be afraid to ask: "How long are we going to have them like this?"
But change is on its way to the Garcia-Kramer household, and Doug is excitedly bracing for it. When he and Chesca thought that three children completed the picture, medical advancements stepped in and Chesca proposed something he could have never predicted: a fourth child via IVF (in vitro fertilization).
"We never wanted to have a fourth child until about a year ago, when Chesca said let's have another baby. She was the one who brought it up! Suddenly, one day, after seeing all these children, I wanted to experience waking up in the wee hours of the morning to make milk [again], saying, 'honey, it's your turn to change diapers.' I looked for that. For a while, I didn't want to experience that again but suddenly I wanted to again," he smiles.
"We never wanted to have a fourth child until about a year ago, when Chesca said let's have another baby"
And that's not the only big event Team Kramer is looking forward to, either.
They're moving into a totally new house this year—the first one Doug and Chesca have built from the ground up since their 2008 wedding, and one designed by Doug himself, sans an interior designer—and it's beautifully symbolic of where they're at as a family.
The new house coincides with Kendra and Scarlett wrapping up home schooling, Gavin likewise moving up in school, and if all goes well, Doug's welcoming of his fourth child by next year, too. It really is the next chapter, as Doug likes to put it, and without a doubt, these family milestones are what will make the structure less of a house, and more of a home.
"I wanted to experience waking up in the wee hours of the morning to make milk [again], saying, 'honey, it's your turn to change diapers.' I looked for that"
As early as now, Doug has already pictured what family life will be like in their new abode; the kids will be having a blast in their designated play area (and tree house!) with custom-made play equipment Doug insisted on (they deserved it all, he asserts), Chesca enjoying her walk-in closet, while Doug can enjoy some dad-time in his basement man cave outiftted with its own cinema, to boot—or will they?
Who are we kidding, this family spends every waking moment together whenever possible, and the new Kramer headquarters is likely to uphold this tradition by being a shared space for the entire family. (Good luck keeping the kids away from the home cinema!)
"You can never plan the kind of love you can give to your children, but once it's there, it's something that you'll crave and want more and more. It's an addiction! The kids' love? For sure"
As it seems, things have all fallen into place for Doug with fatherhood at the center of all the action, his very own North Star that motivates and guides during life's peaks and valleys.
That's what it's been like for Doug all this time and how it's going to continue to be; even with the occasional tampuhan, sibling frenemy-ships, and the overall unpredictability that a home with kids can bring, every day has been a day worth celebrating and he wouldn't have it any other way.
As a final thought, Doug concludes, "We've never let any adversity come between us as a family. We've never played with fire, never had temptations as husband wife, we kept everything pure—and the kids see that. The kids see how I treat Chesca, and Chesca sees how I treat the kids. It's a cycle... You need to enjoy it and love every moment as a father!"
Produced by Grace Libero-Cruz
Creative direction by Butchie Peña
Photography by Gee Plamenco, Jr.
Sittings editor: Geolette Esguerra
Grooming by Raymond Ko
Kids' hairstyling: Phoebe Dionisio
Styling by Em Millan of RainxEm
Shoot assistant: Eli Montoro
Shot on location at Marco Polo Ortigas
Special thanks to Chere Gioskos