In not one but two touching Facebook posts that have gone viral, a young dad has opened up about what it truly means to be a single parent.
Richard Johnson, 21, is the very proud father of a 10-month-old baby girl named Persephone, whose mother left a month after she was born. "We still don't know exactly why, but we suspect postpartum depression played a part," Johnson wrote in a letter to Life of Dad, a social networking site for fathers.
In that first post, he recalled reading every "new parent" book he could find and clocking more than 1,000 hours watching YouTube videos about everything from how to braid hair and paint nails to how to discipline toddlers.
"I was so nervous and scared about being a father in general, but now I was a single father and had to fulfill two roles. I wasn't sure I could do it," he said. "I now get asked by my friends for parenting advice constantly. We've come a long way, my daughter and me."
Needless to say, his honesty struck a chord, and just two days after it was posted to Facebook, it's received more than 15,000 likes and 800 comments, including many from fellow single parents. ("As a woman whose husband left while I was pregnant, thanks from the bottom of my heart for standing up and being a true father," Lindsey Blohm wrote.)
Those heartfelt responses prompted Johnson to share more details about his experiences, including both the incredible highs and the soul-crushing lows.
"The days have been rough and at times I wasn't sure I could make it another day," he admitted. "I spent more [than] a few nights holding my little girl as she slept, weeping because I wasn't sure I was going to be a good enough father for her."
Having been raised by a single mom and being surrounded by divorce, he also revealed that he was originally hesitant about becoming a father at all. "Being that I never had a father, it was truly frightening to become one."
In addition to thanking Life of Dad's readers for their support ("this will be something I will always remember and cherish for the rest of my life"), he even asked that those making negative statements about Persephone's mother in the original post's comment thread to refrain: "Her mother is an amazing woman. . . . No matter what, she is the mother of my child and I only wish the absolute best for her. So long as she can be happy then that's all that counts. It's something I wish to instill in my daughter. Postpartum depression is truly a tragic thing and I would not wish that upon my worst enemy."
He ends his letter with a message to other single parents, but it's sure to bring anyone with kids to tears:
"For any single parents out there, if you ever feel like the load is [too] much or you're just not good enough. Look into your amazing child's eyes and just tell them you love them. You'd be amazed to see how much strength you have when someone else is counting on you and loving you more and more for what you're doing. You'll find strength where you thought you had none."