I have always considered that being a father is just as an important role as a mother, my own father left my life when I was 11 and we never reconnected before he passed away three years ago. His final words to me burned into my mind, “you’ll always be a failure without me in your life”. My own father was my example of not what to be, and as a young man I stumbled to know what kind of man I should be, I only knew what not to be.

My oldest daughter was the result of a moment of passion when I was at university, at the age of 23 with my own dad in my mind, and with being scared of what kind of dad I would be, I started my journey of parenthood. All I knew was that for my little girl, I’d be the measure of all other men to follow in her life, so I better make sure I set the bar high!

The easy solution would have been to drop out of university and get a job. More so when her mother left and my world was in pieces around me. I mustered my courage and with many nights of little sleep, I kept studying, I worked nights and I parented. I was in poverty, exhausted, I struggled like I hope my own children never will. I had a little support but ultimately I only counted on myself. Time was my most precious resource and I managed it like my life depended on it (as sometimes it felt like it did). With the love on my daughter to refill my tank on the days I felt empty, I powered on. Eventually with my daughter by my side, I graduated and started my career.

Later I met my ex-wife, we had two daughters together, but the relationship ended and she left.  Before she did I had lost my hair, and due to a medical issue I had also put on over 40kg. There I was, bald, fat, 3 kids, on my own, life scattered around me… again. I resummoned my courage and kept walking our life forwards one step at a time. I continued to manage my time, working, parenting, and using any supports I had (including after school/child care) I made it work. I started getting up half an hour early every day to do weights before the kids got up to attack the weight. I used the adversity as a weapon, motivating me to work harder and smarter, to be the best me for me, and for my girls.

I’m now 38, a single father to three beautiful daughters. I have multiple degrees, my own home, a great career working full time, and don’t claim any form of financial support from the government or anyone else. I stand on my own feet and live my life being the best version of me and that benchmark for my children. Along the way I even managed to lose that weight. I have evolved into a better dad, a stronger person and am the best me I can be for me and for them.

About the Contributor:

John Stevens

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