By Jer Halloran
At least that’s what I thought when I found out I was going to be a father. You know, a little guy to play sports with and make rough and tough. On Sundays we would wear matching Eli Manning jersey’s while the G-Men fight for another victory. Well… I am a proud single father to my beautiful 8 year old daughter today. What of it?
I was nervous and started thinking…ok, NO Boyfriend’s! I rounded up my four brothers and said, “we need to make sure she never gets hurt and there are always eyes watching her.” Then I stopped and realized she was only three months old. I was nervous, what did I know about raising a girl? I come from a family of five boys and two girls. We played in the dirt, broke neighborhood windows and played outside until the sun went down. I didn’t know the first thing about tying a ponytail, dressing up for tea or gymnastics. I do now and I know it well. Pinky to the sky!!
If you are not a parent, your day will come for this feeling. It’s indescribable. Kyleigh was love at first sight. I just knew this feeling, this baby was a part of me forever. It was like part of my heart that I didn’t even know I had was filled. But what am I going to do!? I didn’t know the first thing about parenting, but I had the best teacher in the world, my mother. I am one of seven, my mother wrote the book on parenting. I knew I was in good hands and I knew what I felt for Kyleigh and I just let all the worries go. I learned something new each day and began evolving into the parent I always wanted to be.
It wasn’t just me in the picture of Kyleigh’s life. When Kyleigh was three years old, my wife and I divorced. It was an emotional rollercoaster to say the least. I didn’t think I could handle it. Kyleigh was young and needed a loving support system from both her mom and dad. We couldn’t provide that for her together. I didn’t know what to do. There were days when it was “my turn” to have her. Like I was given a ticket in line to see my very own daughter, it was my turn. There were days that it wasn’t my turn to have her and she’d scream for me. I would just lay in bed and cry knowing that I couldn’t be there. We eventually made arrangements to get on a consistent schedule for both of us parents. We wanted Kyleigh to know when she was going to see her Mom and when she was going to see me.
I realized, no matter how young your child is, they just want to see their parents happy. When I was happy alone with my daughter, she was happy. When I was sad, she took on that emotion. I soon realized, I could still build a life with my daughter and always be there for her. We could have OUR TIME together and grow our bond. No matter how tough life gets, I am going to be the best Dad I can be. I know I have a little girl who is influenced by every word, act and thought I make. I accepted the challenge of being a single father and hope to influence Kyleigh in the best way possible.
Creating a cultural of giving all started with Kyleigh hanging out in our basement while we worked away on our business. I’d bring down my laptop to the basement, she’d bring her 24 count set of markers and paper to draw. It’s not easy to get a 6 year old to sit quietly late at night while discussing a business plan. One of the coolest moments being a father is being able to witness your daughter get involved in the work I do. Witnessing Kyleigh interact and help other children her own age is magical. It truly inspires me and helps motivate me every morning and night, burning the candle at both ends with work, life and the love of my daughter.
I truly hope that if you are in a similar situation, that you do whatever it takes to make your child happy. The memories they build at a young age are pasted with glue and forever stuck to their hearts and minds. Make those memories long lasting by putting on that dress and make-up during tea time. Pretend you are the knight in shining armor during bedtime stories. This isn’t about being a man, this is about being a Dad who sets the bar for what a gentlemen should be.
One day you’ll want to look at your child and feel you’ve done everything possible to ensure your child has the best chance to be a wonderful adult. You will have to sacrifice, emotionally, financially and physically.
It is the best worst feeling in the world.