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.
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.
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