I was 18 when I found out I was going to be a dad, about to graduate from senior high school. Excited about my upcoming college life, I was devastated and downhearted.
Before finding out I would be a dad, I saw college as an opportunity to be alone, meet new people, and really get to know myself. But knowing that I would be a young dad in college changed everything.
I was nervous and scared because I didn’t know anything about taking care of a baby. I am the youngest in our family, and I never really got the chance to experience taking care of a newborn. I was also thinking of ways how I could provide for my son financially and emotionally.
And that day finally came, the first time I saw Liam, he was in an incubator in the newborn ICU because he was a month premature. It felt unreal, and I couldn’t believe that he was my son. I was joyous but at the same time anxious because of the enormous responsibility I was about to face.
I had to give up a lot of things I was passionate about. During my first year in college, I fulfilled my long-time ambition of being a drummer for the DLSU Animo Squad. But after Liam was born, I realized that he needed me more, and I had to put all my attention on him and my studies. The time I spent with friends was also cut short.
The first few stretches were very exhausting. It started with going straight to Liam from classes and then going home late at night. There were also times when Liam would stay with me in Paranaque. I am lucky to have very supportive and caring parents. My mom would take care of Liam when I was in school, but it was my turn to take care of him when I got home. I remember staying up into 3 in the morning because Liam would drink his milk and I needed to change his diaper. A couple of hours later, I would need to leave the house before 6 a.m. to avoid traffic and go to school.
There are times that I forget that I am a father. Sometimes I want to forget everything and become a kid again. But I always keep in mind that I must be successful. I want to give my son everything that he wants in life.
During the pandemic, especially the early days, were hard for Liam and me. There were times when I couldn’t see Liam for months. Since he lives in Manila and I live in Parañaque, the strict community quarantine restrictions disallow unauthorized citizens to cross from city to city. But now that the restrictions are not as firm, I get to spend more time with him whenever I want. Parents, especially young parents like me, easily see the silver lining of the pandemic as we get to spend more time with our children.
Now, post-pandemic, I get to be with him only during my term breaks because I’m overloading all my units in school so I can graduate as soon as possible. But if the time permits I accompany Liam to the mall and walk around, especially now that kids are allowed in the malls. We like to eat ice cream and donuts since we both have sweet tooth. But, I understand how draining taking care of Liam can be. I feel sad and indebted to Liam’s mother because I think it’s unfair that she would need to take care of him most of the time.
Forethought is crucial for me. I am grateful to my parents who gave me a “golden parachute” so that I don’t have to worry about the finances right now. My parents’ actions for me, a young dad under their care, taught me that having a child is not an investment but a responsibility. I have this goal that I embedded in my mind.
There are times that I forget that I am a father. Sometimes I want to forget everything and become a kid again. But I always keep in mind that I must be successful. I want to give my son everything that he wants in life. I can’t do that by being lazy and being tired. I know that everything will be worth it in the end. Perseverance will play a massive part in my life. And I hope to persevere and flourish as each day passes. Balancing my life as a student and being a dad is hard, but it is more doable when I have a strong support system given by my family.
Originally published in YOU: A tale of a teenage dad – You.com.ph