Over the past year, I’ve been living a dream.
I walked away from a toxic environment that was negatively impacting my health and took the plunge into entrepreneurship. I don’t know exactly how those in my outer circle describe this transformation but I do know the people closest to me, those that matter the most, have noticed a shift.
Mrs r&R tells me all the time I’m not the person I was a few years ago [or even last year] and that at times she doesn’t quite know what to do with me. For the record, she doesn’t always mean this in a good way.
I’m 100% sure my son has noticed a difference also. He’s not fully vocal but there are definitely moments where I can look into his eyes or read his body language telling me everything I need to know about how he feels.
This is my second Fathers Day, but the first year I can actually say, I feel like a father. No, I’m not just referring to the salt and pepper strands of hair that have slowly infiltrated my beard and sideburns. This Fathers Day is special because I’ve spent the last year being what many would describe as an active father.
I take my son to school and pick him up every day. I change his diapers, cook and serve his food, take him to the doctor [sometimes along] when needed and cater to his ever-growing curiosity and sense of independence.
He knows most of his major body parts including eyebrows, eyelashes, finger nails and butt because of me. He knows how to dunk a basketball, how to celebrate afterwards and how to impersonate the sound a fire truck makes because I taught him. He eats blackberries, lentils, kale, salmon, curries and any version of rice and beans we have because that’s what his Dad makes for him.I'm damn proud of our son and myself for having contributed to who he is. I'm convinced he wouldn't be the loving, resilient and happy baby we know if I were a less active and attentive parent. Click To Tweet
Whenever Mrs. r&R and I are just lounging around the house after a long day, we often have these deeply reflective moments. We think aloud about how amazing our lives will be when we own more of our time. How free we’ll feel when money doesn’t occupy as much real estate in our minds as it does today.
We envision visiting the Redwood trees in California, spending weeks at a time in Costa Rica or exploring more of the ATL on days outside of the weekend peak periods. Showing our son the world beyond his bedroom window is one of the driving forces behind our pursuit of Financial Independence.
I grew up in what is considered a broken home. My parents were in a relationship, but, it was one that was outside of my father’s marriage. It’s a complicated and common situation for many people I know but it’s also the reason I’m here and I accept it because, well…what choice do I have.
As a kid, I would see my father a few days a week. When he wasn’t home, I believed he was working overnight to help put food on the table which technically was true, except for a few missing details. Classic parent move!
Despite his absence, in my neighborhood, my father was the quintessential example of a good, strong, black man. Many of my childhood friends in Brooklyn didn’t know their father or lost their father to drugs, health issues or incarceration. The fact that my Dad wore a suit to work, spoke good English despite being an immigrant and owned a car made him special, almost mythical.
Of course, these aren’t thoughts I had as a kid. My Dad was just my Dad. He was stern, took me to baseball practice, a few Yankees games and we’d go to Red Lobster in Queens on special occasions. These weren’t experiences many of my friends had at all.
It wasn’t until I reached young adulthood that I learned the full picture of my parent’s complicated relationship and even then, my feelings were mixed. I didn’t know what to do with the information I was given. On one end , there was an entire side of my family I hadn’t met. On the other end, I struggled thinking about the life he lived when he wasn’t there.
Today, whenever I have to take a business trip, attend an evening event that takes me away from my son I brace for a wave of emotions. I know I’m going to have mini-moments of regret that send me spiraling into the nursery camera app on my phone to see if he’s sleeping soundly. Even worse, I wonder if he’s thinking…”Where’s Dad?”.
These days, I am a certified home-body but the other day, I forced myself to attend a local meetup because honestly, it was time for me to get out of the house or else I would drive myself and my Mrs. r&R crazy. After picking our son up from school, it was almost as if he knew I was going to leave. In the moments where he would normally jump from my arms and sprint towards Mama, he clung to me.
For a solid hour, he used all the strength he could muster to hold me down, lay on my chest and stare deeply into my eyes. It was one of the sweetest moments I’d ever experienced as a father and I was grateful for it. Maybe he had a really bad day, maybe he was just tired or maybe he could tell something was up and that I wouldn’t be there for bath and bedtime like I always am.It was a humbling reminder of something I've always known but had yet to fully experience as a parent. Kids remember. Click To Tweet
I remember the smell of my mother’s cooking, the sound of the Jamaican countryside and what I felt the very first time I heard Midnight Marauders. I remember my Dad’s gold rope chain, the license plate on his old blue Buick and the rhythms he hummed in the shower on the nights he was home so there is no reason to believe my son won’t remember the days I’m not there.
Twelve years ago, I could’ve never guessed that falling down an online personal finance, real estate and investing rabbit hole would lead me to where I am today. I never thought there was a connection between the role money played in my life and the type of husband or father I could be. Now, I know for a fact that it’s all intricately connected and that the pursuit of change in one part of my life has a direct impact on another
I know that achieving financial independence isn’t winning the lottery and that hitting our FI number won’t solve all of my problems. But I also know that once I don’t have to worry about money, I’ll have the capacity to do other things more fully. I can’t think of a single thing I’d rather pour myself into than creating lifelong memories with my son.