(Editor’s Note: All too often students and faculty members fall into the daily swirl and assume that everyone around them is surely going through similar motions – perhaps even the same chaotic pace. But everyone’s pace is different; everyone’s path is not the same. Senior Kevin Henry’s path is quite different from most students. In a series of personal columns, he hopes you’ll walk his path for just a little while).
I went into this school semester knowing that it would be my hardest semester yet. Not because I was taking challenging courses or because I was commuting for the first time, but because this is the first semester that I am a single father, manager at work, and full time student all at the same time.
My first day of class was unlike any day I’ve ever endured — class from 9:10 in the morning to 8:20 at night, then work from 9:00p.m. until 1:30 in the morning. I got home that night at 1:45a.m. and checked immediately on my baby boy. Aidan was sleeping peacefully in my room because my mother had put him to bed earlier that night. So, I took a shower and went to bed.
As I finally got in bed at 2:15, I thought to myself, “What a long day.”
Little did I know it wasn’t over just yet. As I slowly approached stage one of sleep, Aidan woke up and started to cry for food. It took the rest of my energy to make him a bottle. Four ounces later he fell back to sleep, and I rolled over and closed my eyes.
That was just day one of fall semester 2011.
Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I would be a father at the age of 22.
It’s not like I was against having children, I just always dreamt that I would have a steady job, my own place to live, and a wife before I had my first child. But things just didn’t work out that way.
One month into my last semester of school and my body feels exhausted. Every muscle feels numb from lack of sleep and constant work. I try not to complain to people about how exhausted and fatigued I am because that does not help me get through the pain.
You probably also ask yourself at times, “How do I make it through each day?”
I ask myself the same thing each day. My answer is that I have to change my lifestyle mentality. What I mean by this is, before Aidan came along, I always used to be focused and thinking about my future. I used to constantly think months in advance about what I was going to do, how I was going to make money, and how my future would turn out.
Now all I think about is the hour that is at hand. If I think about my next three days, I simply get overwhelmed.
Every hour in my life there is something to do — whether it is work, childcare, or school. Relaxation is rare nowadays and, before Aidan was born, relaxing was my favorite thing to do. But now that Aidan is here, being with my baby boy is my favorite thing to do.
At least I know I’m not entirely alone when it comes to being a single father. Approximately 1.7 million men in America are single fathers.
I’m proud to be part of that population.