Honestly, being a father was the furthest thing on my mind when we found out we were going to have our first daughter Hannah.
I was pretty much starting my career in the hotel industry, a few years out of college, 6 months into a relationship with my wife Pamela and quite honestly, I was a little crazy.
I partied 3 to 5 nights a week, worked as a bartender part time at Jillians in Albany and as a Food and Beverage Director at the Hilton Garden Inn Albany Airport.
Having a child was the last thing on my mind when it happened. I have to tell you though, I was excited. I loved Pamela and decided it would be best to marry her, so I did. The day Hannah came into the world was the most exciting day of my life. Being that I grew up without my father, I vowed that I would NEVER leave my kids no matter what.
Before she was 1, we moved from Clifton Park, NY to Alpharetta, Ga. We lived in an apartment for a year and then moved into our first home in Cumming, Ga. back in 2002 which we still reside in.
During the first ten years of my daughters life, I struggled with addiction of both drugs and alcohol. While I was home, I really wasn’t present. I was always pre-occupied with work, partying, etc. I found myself very distant from my wife and daughter. In 2003, we had our second daughter Kaylee.
We struggled financially for years until I was able to clean my trip up. Now with 2 daughters and a few years of fatherhood under my belt, I learned some hard lessons.
When my girls were young and my marriage was young, I thought I had the rest of my life to spend with my family, so why would it be such a big deal for me to hang out with friends 4-5 nights a week, leaving my wife with the 2 girls to hang by themselves.
Stupid, stupid move on my part and boy was I wrong and selfish and self centered. These are the kind of lessons that your never prepared for and one can only learn by pure trial by fire style life training.
Then, BOOM! I wake up and I have a teenager and a 10 year old. It was pretty much then that I snapped out of my selfish coma and began to try to make up for lost time.
Only thing was, you can’t EVER make up for lost time because once its gone, it’s gone.
I made sure that from this day forward, I am going to strive to be better than I was yesterday. A lot of the hard lessons I learned with my first daughter Hannah, I did not make with Kaylee.
I remembered how I lost all those years with Hannah. I could have been closer to her on a daily basis, made it to school to have lunch with her more often and just been more present with her.
Day after day, my heart changed. I began to value my relationship with my wife more. I decided that I was going to up my game as a father and a husband.
I’ve never looked back. Hannah is now 15, has her drivers permit and Kaylee just turned 13. I mended my relationship with my wife and we have a beautiful marriage and I now have a wonderful rich relationship with both my kids.
It takes time for everyone to adjust to fatherhood. All I can pray for now is that I have a long, healthy and happy life with my family.