A young single dad who poured his heart out in two Facebook posts about his struggles to raise an infant daughter by himself is resonating with fellow fathers on a social network for dads.
Richard Johnson found himself alone with his daughter, Persephone, after the baby's mom left when the child was about a month old.
“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 wrote in a post he submitted to social network Life of Dad, which posted the note to its Facebook page on Tuesday.
The post went viral, prompting Johnson to reply with another post that provided details about the days following the departure of his baby's mom.
“The days have been rough and at times I wasn't sure I could make it another day. 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,” he wrote.
Johnson said his fears stemmed from being a child of divorce. He said his father left when he was 6, and he didn’t see the man again until he was 21.
“So being that I never had a father, it was truly frightening to become one. Even more so when I was going to do it alone,” he said. “I didn't have time to be worried, though, because that beautiful little girl needed a parent who could be her rock and would love her to pieces. In my mind there was no other option.”
Johnson said he has read every “new parent” book he could find and “clocked in over 1,000 hours” on YouTube watching videos on everything from braiding hair to painting nails.
It was finding the “Life of Dad” page, however, that he helped him realize he was not alone. “You truly helped my daughter and me through a very difficult time,” he told the group. “We're both very happy now and continue to grow together everyday. She's now 10 months, and I now get asked by my friends for parenting advice constantly.”
Johnson defended his ex-girlfriend in his second Facebook post. He explained that he’s not sure why she abandoned her daughter, but suspects post-partum depression played a large role.
“Her mother is an amazing woman and I will have to ask the few people who had negative things to say about her to please refrain from doing so. No matter what she is the mother of my child and I only wish the absolute best for her,” he said, later adding, “Post-partum depression is truly a tragic thing and I would not wish that upon my worst enemy.”
Johnson said he's been overwhelmed by the response his posts have received and said if he could shake the hand of every person who commented, "I'd probably just hug each of you." He also provided advice to other single parents who find themselves in moments of self-doubt.
"Look into your amazing child's eyes and just tell them you love them," he said. "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."