Tales of a Single Father: Be the Change


Joseph Scialabba is a single father from the Chicago area who unexpectedly lost the mother of his child several years ago. This blog post series chronicles his experience with raising a female child alone in the   21st century.

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Six years ago next week I found out I was going to be a father. It was a moment, a terrifying moment of self reflection. I looked towards the future ahead of me, almost a certain early death due to my reckless lifestyle. I thought long and hard about what could I possibly offer a child, what could I even possibly offer her mother in the means of a stable life, one that could offer growth and safety to a child. After weeks of inner monologue I realized that the answer was... nothing, nothing about my current life filled with endless parties, women, booze and danger was suitable to raising a child. I looked at my roommate when he asked what I was going to do and said "there comes a time when its time to give up childish things and be a man, and i guess that day is today, if I don't change for her, I never will.

Don't get me wrong, part of me enjoyed the way I lived, me and the company I kept were rock stars. Getting paid to do events, travel, play music, it was any young man’s candy land, and I ate my fill. As I grew older and matured, I realized that the nagging emptiness, the forlorn sense of despair, was because even though I had most everything a young man could want that none of it even came close to a sense of permanence that I wanted even before I knew what it was. Part of me was terrified at the idea of parenthood; I'm responsible for someone else's life? I could barely take care of my own even though I had plenty of money and resources; the truth is I didn't much care what happened to me back then. We're here for a good time not a long time right?

The other part of me was dying, it was dying for something to commit too, something to build on, a catalyst for my inner fire that had waned over the years. I was barely thirty but going on sixty when life experience was factored in, I lived fast and hard and I was good at it. I may not have been the devil, but I was out there doing the devils work.

So 6 years ago, which looking back seems like a lifetime to me, I made the decision to change, simple enough to say, much harder to actually do. This wasn't just a minor life rebuild; this was gonna be a total tear down. What terrified me the most about having a daughter was the idea that someday she was going to end up with a guy like me, and I just couldn't do that, I couldn't handle it. So it began, and continues on today, was it without casualties, absolutely not.

I cut friends that weren't conducive to my changing lifestyle, changed careers, moved away and back again. I wholesale changed what I look for in friendships, relationships, and even behavior I accept from family members. Nothing was going to be the same, and I ran with it, like it was a fresh breath of air to an oxygen starved man. I was going to be someone that she could look up to; I was going to be a man worthy of raising a little girl. I never realized that mine and her mother’s paths would diverge in the manner they did. I thought I finally had the family I had longed for but never told anyone about, I never though she wouldn't be here to see it.

I continue every day to grow and evolve as a man and a father. There's not much of a playbook for what happened to us, I use the guideline of what I want for her life. Mine is secondary to me now just like it was back then. Every day, and every action is an investment in her, hopefully I find someone worthy one day to join us but for now I focus on what I can control. Parenting isn't a paying job in the monetary sense, it pays you in smiles.

Whether you're a parent or not, we are all capable of change. Most of us would benefit from it even though for people like me, the thought of being a normal contributing member of society was more frightening then jail or death for a long time. Don't be afraid to change, listen to that voice telling you it can be better. Once I saw my daughter the day she came to be, I knew it was all over there was no going back, so ahead i charged. 6 years later, I still get scared but I know every change I make benefits her. So I put on my helmet and get it done. Crash or no crash.

Photo by Getty Images

The Pursuit of Happiness

The Pursuit of Happiness

Ken Webster Jr is a talk radio personality and producer from Houston, TX. He started his career in Chicago on the Mancow show and has since worked at dozens of radio stations all over the country. He’s currently the host of Pursuit of Happiness... Read more

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