If I can put my finger on a single event that would change the course of my life, it would be the day my daughter was born.

On September 17, 2013, I became a man . . . well, at least I thought I did. See, the nine months leading to that day, I did everything I thought a man would do to be ready.

Side note: this wasn’t planned. As a matter of fact, the initial news scared the crap out of me.

I got a new job, put my “hobbies” to the side, and ultimately started thinking about the future. I was 23 years old and at the time I felt like I was mature for my age. I had a good head on my shoulders and always took a positive approach to everything. Also, I am extremely blessed to have great parents.

My parents divorced when I was 12 and, luckily for me and my siblings, they remained close. It was more difficult for my sister and me, being the older kids and fearing that our relationships with our parents would change. My brother grew up with this and my father made sure to always be around.

Seeing my dad sacrifice and be there for us no matter what made me feel like being a father is something I can do. He set the ultimate example of what a father is. I knew I had what it takes because it was in my DNA.

I had no idea how much I would grow and how hard it would be.

Remember this wasn’t planned nor was it something I even remotely thought about at the time. I was enjoying my life and lived carefree. The thought of the future wasn’t on my mind at all. Goes to show you how “mature” I thought I was.

Speaking to other parents, you realize whether you plan or don’t plan, being a parent has its challenges. I’m so thankful that naturally, I was able to prioritize my life and put my kid first. I realized that what I wanted at the time wasn’t important and being a father was my calling.

My daughter became my why and my reason for living.

I wasn’t motivated before her. I wasn’t grateful before her. I took life as it came and reacted. When she came into my life, I had a purpose that would propel my mindset to the bigger picture. Not being prepared for a kid meant I had to eat crap. I had to do things I didn’t love for money and I had to put my stuff to the side. It honestly didn’t matter to me because I knew this was for her.

My daughter is six now and I can say that I’m in the best place of my life. I have a beautiful relationship, I have a positive and healthy mindset, and most importantly, I have grit. I’ve gained skills that push me through adversity. Things like patience and hard work are some of the skills that I believe are the key to success. Add those with a “why” and I knew in time I could create the best life for my kid.

It wasn’t easy and it still isn’t.

I’m constantly faced with challenges and adversity, but because I’ve fought through and remained true to myself and my kid, I have this unstoppable mindset that keeps me positive.

Related: Being a Dad is the Best Gig There Is

I don’t recommend rushing to have kids. If you can wait until you’re mentally and financially established, more power to you.

I will end it on this: a hard life stinks but a hard life builds strength and confidence that will make life easy. My daughter sent me on a whirlwind but I’m grateful for every second of it.

Stephen Cordovano

I’m Stephen Cordovano. A proud, proactive dad of a silly/sweet 6 year old that has me wrapped around her finger. I created The Good Dad Movement to inspire a community of fathers who are on a mission to love and lead their families the right way. I  am here to help likeminded dads to navigate the trials and tribulations of parenting with positivity, humor and compassion.