The Day A Young Boy Became The Man Of The House

June 25, 2015

Today we would like to introduce Pennsylvania resident Joe Fiduccia, owner of AmericasFootprints.com, and also a loving husband and father.  Joe agreed to share a story from his Footprint about a moment from his past that very few people know about.  It goes back to a time when he was just a young boy, and a time that changed his life – forever.

On the surface, it may seem like your friends, your colleagues, and your neighbors are living the ‘happy life’. But the statistics prove otherwise. Broken families are all around us, and there are plenty of young children out there who are suffering as a result.

So Joe decided to share this one story about his broken childhood family because he believes it may help others who are going through a similar situation.  He hopes that by sharing his story, others can realize they are not alone, and perhaps can find a strength they never knew.

Here is Joe’s story:

When I was 11 years old, my parents were having a difficult time. There was a lot of arguing, fighting, name calling, and even a handful of police visits at our once peaceful home. It was clear that their marriage was in jeopardy and that divorce was a strong possibility. Yet I still kept hope alive that they would find a way to reconcile and make things work…allowing us to get back to being the family we once were.

But that day never came.

I will never forget the night that changed my life forever. It was about 6:40 PM and my mom just got home from running some errands. She immediately asked my younger brother and I to come into the living room and sit down for a talk. This wasn’t necessarily a new thing for us, as she would regularly talk to us about what was going on, and try to reassure us that they were working on their problems.

So we both came downstairs and sat next to her on the couch. The room was fairly dark with only a corner lamp turned on. Before she could even get a single word out, she broke down. With her head in her hands, crying like a baby girl, she mustered up the strength to say: “I never wanted this to happen. Your father and I are getting a divorce.”

This wasn’t the first time a divorce between the two of them was announced. About 4 months prior we had a similar conversation…and then things got better for a while. But that night, it was clear. My parents were getting a divorce, and the family I once knew would never be the same again.

My brother got very emotional, and tried talking to her…asking at one point if there was any possibility of working things out, to which she stated ‘no’. I on the other hand remained silent. I did not react. I did not cry. All I did was try to comfort my mom and tell her that we would help take care of her.

See at the time and in the years leading up to this night, my father made her life a living hell – mentally, physically, and financially. And now she had the responsibility of raising three boys in a home with no job, no money, and no support whatsoever.

There was no way she could do it all on her own.

It was at that very moment that something in me changed, and I remember it vividly. When the conversation was over, I told myself in private “it’s up to me now. I have to find a way to take care of her and become the man of the house.”

That very evening before bed, I began writing down all of the helpful things that I could think of. Tasks like mowing the lawn, maintaining the pool, washing her car, and helping her around the house with chores like vacuuming, cleaning, and cooking. And as the days progressed, I wasted no time implementing whatever I could…even though I had never done ANY of it before.

Odd as it may sound, and unlike many kids that age, I did not feel obligated to do anything. My mom had made it quite clear that these tasks were not my responsibility. But I wanted them to be. I wanted to mow the lawn. I wanted to fold the laundry. I wanted to make my bed each morning. I wanted to learn how to repair problems with the house or the car.

Bottom line: I wanted be the man she needed.

So what started off as a to-do list quickly became something bigger. It became a calling for me. It became my way of pushing myself to do more. I learned how to do so much on my own, and through my teens I continued discovering capabilities and strengths I’d never known. I found a way to get through school and college, and looking back, I think I also learned how to deal with the stress that resulted from our broken family.

ALL without the help of my father.

Now 25 years later, I am grateful for that experience. As a dad, I am able to teach my son so much more because of what I now know. I am able to share my journey with him, and show him that even in the most difficult of times he will turn out ok in the end.

I can help him understand the power of the universe and the journey it takes us on. And I can be his role model of support, showing him through action and experience that he can do anything he sets his mind to.

In closing: if you find yourself in a situation that immediately changes your life, do the best you can to embrace it. Yes it might be scary. And sure, you may have no idea why it’s happening. But don’t be afraid of it. Think of it like taking your first steps up a new mountain. You won’t know what’s on the other side until you start walking.

AmericasFootprints.com would like to give a special “thank you” to Joe for taking the time to share this story with us today. If you would like to submit a personal story from your past that you believe our blog readers can relate to (and possibly find inspiration through), please contact us for more information. If desired, you can choose to stay anonymous.