Have you ever noticed that when you say or type a word too often, it suddenly becomes foreign? Like the word itself makes no sense and you’re not sure how it ever did in the first place? I’ve typed “father” a lot lately, and the only time it looked more bizarre than it does now was when I saw it on my son’s birth certificate.

There was that line: “father’s name”…

I knew the rules, biologically, and I accepted that I was responsible, but actually being a father? Anyone could technically sign in this space and the county would have all it needed, but for me it was more like signing a job description, embracing my duty.

Yeah, like, I get it Rally’s, thanks. Now I’m conflicted AND hungry.

To put some perspective on the fear I was feeling at this point, I had just gotten my first real job after 3 years at a sandwich shop, had just graduated college, and, at a previous point, had given a puppy back to a friend after 2 hours because the enormity of taking care of it terrified me. In my mind, I was not in a good place to take care of a kid, so when I went to sign that line (“father’s name”), the pen felt a lot heavier than any pen ever had before. Should I sign it? Can I sign it? As a fatherless father, was this ok?

I don’t know who my dad is, not just in the existential sense, or in the “he died fighting overseas before I was born” sense, but in the “I honestly do not know who my biological father is” sense.

(Update: I have since found my father thanks to Ancestry!)

My mom was married to a guy when I was younger, but that didn’t work out, and he wasn’t really the patron type, so it was my grandparents, my mom, and me. Don’t get me wrong; my grandfather was one of the greatest goddamned people I’ve ever met, but it’s still different from a dad.

I have all of these expectations of talks I should have had with a dad that never transpired; what if, when I’m supposed to have those talks with my son, I just blank? What if that data was never acquired, and all this time I’ve been doing something critical in my life just completely incorrectly? Am I shaking hands wrong? Would I have been more confident in dating had I a father to talk to about women? How would my life have differed if I grew up with an actual father, even a bad one?

I feared signing that paper because of all the things I don’t know that fathers typically teach their sons. I don’t know much about cars. I abhor most team sports. I’m not particularly handy. My grandfather taught me billiards, taught me how to swim, and instilled me with a love of gardening, and for that I’m thankful, but I feel like I missed out on key “dad” information. How do I know what to pass on to my kids? Is there a GED for dads?

As I put the pen to the paper, one last hesitation existed in the form of fear of the past.

My stepdad was a violent drunk, and a physical person to begin with. I was humiliated and beat in front of my friends, given absurd chores to do at a very young age and met with threats of violence if I had trouble with them, and I was privy to torrents of withering verbal abuse from him towards my mother. In times of extreme stress or anger, I could feel his hatred and words pop into my brain and I didn’t want to project that at my wife or kids, knowing that having a baby would be the most stressful, anxiety-inducing thing I’d ever experienced. In my heart of hearts, I didn’t want to be the kind of dad that stuck around but was a horrible influence on his children.

With all of this apprehension in the back of my mind, permeating my soul with regrets and fear, I was, even after meeting my amazing little son, still terrified of signing that paper; of signing up to be someone’s father when I was so woefully under-educated on the position.

newborn baby crying

So now here is this blog, one I named Fit2Father, despite STILL being unsure (even over three years later). Obviously I signed the paper, and did so again when my daughter was born.

If it had been called “Fit2Abandon”, “AmIFit2Father”, or “GotAllThisExtraChildSupportMoneylol”, we might have a twist here but thankfully I think I’m alright at the most basic aspects of parenting. I keep them fed, I read to them, I play dinosaurs and babies, and most importantly, I have fun doing those things.

I love my children more than anything in existence, but the nagging self-doubt always rears its head.

How embarrassed will I be that I can’t fix the car if it breaks? What will I do if my son loves football? I really don’t know thing one about football. What if my daughter also loves football? Are there girls football teams or will we need to make one? Why is it called football and not “hand-egg”? So many questions…

Truth is, I know if those things come up, I will handle them, because there’s one thing I know that a father does, and that’s support their kids. So if my son or daughter loves sports, I’ll learn sports and throw balls (spastically, I’m sure). I’d do the same thing if they wanted to dance, hunt, or deep-sea fish as well.

Being a fatherless father, I’ve come to realize that my kids will learn about things from me, and even though I didn’t have a template to work off, I will need to teach them regardless.

Besides, a lot of the coolest stuff in the world was done without templates.


  • Andrea Reply

    You’re doing great! Keep it up and you’ll be fine.

    • Monechetti Reply

      Thanks! I hope the babies agree with me 🙂

  • Molly Stevens Reply

    thanks for sharing your doubts and the pain from your past experience with bio and step dads. You are not along and obviously your grandfather was a great influence on you in your early years. Your children are lucky to have such an involved Dad who not only does his duty by them but enjoys it.

  • Mandi Reply

    What a lovely, reflective post that is a testament to how much you love your children. Even those is us with parents as role models struggle with those worries. We just want to be the best parents for our children.

    • Monechetti Reply

      Thank you. I was talking with my wife the other day; no matter what a person’s circumstances, beliefs, or outlook on life, the one unifying thing is that everyone wants what’s best for their kids, or at least that’s what I believe.

  • Anna R Palmer Reply

    What a great homage to turning something sad into something special. Fatherless doesn’t turn into father-less.

    • Monechetti Reply

      Thank you!

  • Shopgirl Anonymous Reply

    I have to tell you, my husband and I were both raised by our grandparents, though my story does revolved around tragically losing a father very young, that’s still not much to go off of. Each kid is different (I know you’ve heard that a billion times recently, and good God you’ll hear it a billion times more), but I don’t mean it in the apologetic sense, but int the sense that they will teach you!!! It’s really amazing they feed you cues and you start to learn from them, and you grow aw a parent that caters to their unique souls, and they grow as the kid that caters to your strengths and capabilities. Don’t think about it, just love and be you.

    You have it right. If they want to play sports hop on the train, if they want to be a drama queen hop on that train. Support is all they need from you, not expertise, that’s what the coaches are for.

    • Monechetti Reply

      Thanks for the kind words. I love my babies and will do anything for them, so of course the apprehension is real that I might screw something up, but being a great dad is something that I’m trying my best to prioritize 🙂

  • Christina Reply

    I understand where you are coming from. I grew up without a father, and my Mother, while physically present offered nothing. When I became a Mother I was at a loss. Luckily I had a great partner (as you do) and we forged our way together. I honestly think that even the best frame of reference ultimately belongs to someone else anyway.

    • Monechetti Reply

      I believe you’re right. Though not having a father concerns me in that I worry about what I’m missing, I was lucky that I had grandparents and a mom and great-aunts and great-uncles to teach me respect for elders, compassion, volunteering, empathy, etc. Some people aren’t so lucky, even if they HAVE both parents.

  • Silly Mummy Reply

    This was really interesting and moving. I think it sounds like you have had great influences in your life from your grandparents and your mother, and have a great attitude towards parenting, and will figure it out as well as anybody else. Really, if you love your kids, want to be there and are reasonably responsible and stable (all of which you clearly are), I think you are fit to be a good parent. We all feel fear that we are going to mess it up, and we all have our failings and quirks, regardless of our backgrounds and who we had as parents.

    • Monechetti Reply

      It does seem to be a day-to-day struggle. Thankfully, my kids are pretty good in terms of being loving towards us and each other. I would like to think our parenting has a lot to do with it, but I think they’re also just sweet kids (hopefully, haha).

  • Gary Reply

    As someone that grew up with a deadbeat dad I can relate. Being fatherless myself as always driven me as a parent in my own right. Keep up the good work!

    • Monechetti Reply

      Thanks! I think it goes to one extreme or the other; having absent parents either makes you more dedicated or more aloof. Glad it drives you!

  • Stacey W Reply

    It sounds like if you wonder about all of these things, you are a great dad already!

    • Monechetti Reply

      Thank you! I try anyway 🙂

  • Carol Cassara Reply

    I really appreciated this heartfelt essay tonight. Seems like you have the right ingredients, who needs a template?

  • Jennifer Reply

    I have the same questions in regard to football (and I played it with my brothers!)

  • Lee Gaitan Reply

    i don’t think I could be any more impressed and touched by your story. It sounds to me like you are doing one fabulous job at the dad thing. I got news for you–all parents are playing by ear to some degree anyway! Your writing is so, so good, too!

  • Raymond Baxter Reply

    Wow. You could be me! My Dad abandoned me as a kid but he came into my life five years later. He was abusive, a drunk and a manipulator – messed my life right up.

    So when my Son was born – you could guess that I’d be petrified, like you were. But later I realised – not knowing what love was from a Dad; it means we get a blank slate with our children. It means we get to start again!

    • Monechetti Reply

      Amen! I’m sorry you had to go through that crap with your dad, but I am happy that you were able to prevent that cycle from continuing. I see a lot of people who had abusive fathers and they ended up abusive or alcoholic, and it breaks my heart.

      • Raymond Baxter Reply

        I was nearly there – I was an alcoholic and becoming abusive. Stopped those trends in their tracks though!

  • Robin Reply

    This is a beautifully written post, Tony. We all struggle and worry about being the best parents we can. I’m a single mom, my kids are older (almost 16 and 11). I worry every day that I’m not doing it right. But at the end of the day, I know that I did the best I could. I dispense advice, listen, hug and cuddle on demand, soothe worried children, provide a home, meals, and love them with every ounce of my being. And you know what? They are pretty amazing girls! Sure, their dad is in the picture… but it’s not the way I envisioned their lives when they were born. Trust your gut. You’re doing great!

    • Monechetti Reply

      Thank you! I think that good parenting is a tightrope of making sure they don’t eat lead/keeping them alive and also giving them their own autonomy. I find myself questioning my decisions but not my motives, and I think that means I’m on the right track.

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