Im A 16 Year Old Boy With Super Small Arms 90% Of Being A Successful Father Is Showing Up

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90% Of Being A Successful Father Is Showing Up

Woody Allen says that 90% of success in life is showing up. That is definitely true of a good father. Your wife gives birth to a baby, but the ball is in your court half the time after that.

I was terrified when I brought my young son home from the hospital. I looked at the six pound six ounce little boy and almost panicked when I realized he was going to live with me. I didn’t know how to feed him, change him or get him to stop crying. I was afraid to keep him. I was the best newbie dad. I wasn’t sure I would be able to fulfill my father’s position.

I was a full-time, financially strapped, married, twenty-year-old college student when my son was born. I had no money, and only one way to get it. I worked five part-time jobs day and night to pay the rent and feed my wife and son. Sometimes I had dinner and sometimes I didn’t. I was so close to the edge, and I still had seven months until graduation.

Although I had no choice to show up in person, showing up emotionally was a choice. My anxiety level was complete just thinking about being responsible for such a small, helpless human being.

I guess it’s obvious, my son was not planned. As a baby is born whether planned or not, intention plays a useful role in mapping out the baby’s life. My financial instability worried me every minute of every day, and I feared being poor even more than I feared being a father.

My marriage to a young French woman I met while studying in London was disastrous. I made a complete mess of my life. My wife and I divorced right after I graduated college. She returned to France, but I refused to let her take my son with her. He was American by birth and therefore I was given sole custody of the one year old.

I was a shaky father at first. I was just starting my career out of college and needed more sleep than I was getting. I remember trying to get my son to sleep through the night. I thought a small amount of oatmeal mixed into his nighttime bottle might stick to his ribs and help him sleep longer. I made a bigger opening in the nipple with a hot needle and fed the mixture to my son. It worked. I found that at least some of the parenting was innovative.

When I think about raising that baby forty-four years later, the beginning seems like a hazy dream. I went to work, got lost and made a living. I found a wonderful wife to take care of my son during the day and when I traveled on business. Life as a single father was good. I spent almost all my free time with my son. I hadn’t had much of a social life for a decade, but I felt something in my heart that directed all my energy to him.

Somewhere along the way I fell in love with my son and have adored him ever since. I raised him as a single father for most of his childhood. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Raising my son was the greatest achievement of my life.

Did I do a good job? When I look at the man he is today, I’m sure I did. I have a seven-year-old grandson, and for the first time in the history of my family, three generations of Solinjans live at the same time. We all share the feeling of unconditional love for each other. When my grandson wraps his arms around my neck, kisses my cheek and says, “I love you Grandpa Kenny,” I feel the same joy I felt with my son.

Being the only parent to my son, showing up was not an option for me. But that is not an option for any father. Granted, there are circumstances in which it is much more difficult to become emotionally involved, but ultimately, a son needs his father to feed him emotionally as much as he needs food. And a woman cannot be expected to raise a son without the much-needed male influence of his father.

If you’re a new dad, congratulations. I hope you find it in your heart to show up. I promise you will never be sorry. I’d love to hear from new dads and I’m open to sharing what I’ve learned, so feel free to write and tell me your story.

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