Jyothi and I met, when we were 19, on a holiday camp booked at the last minute. At the time we lived in different countries and the internet was not commercially spread. We met again the year after. We wrote letters for a while, but then lost contact.
When we got back in touch Jyothi was ending a bad relationship where she was not loved but which gave her a beautiful son, Joshua, and she was just starting to get herself back together. I also had had other experiences and relationships, I had a career, but something was always missing and I was not happy in my life.
Over the course of about a year, we had the longest and deepest instant messaging, phone conversations and text messages threads ever. I visited them in Holland a couple of times. She and the kid also visited me in Rome.

Many people these days are afraid to have kids. I was no exception, having grown in the debris of my parent’s divorce, as the only son. What I had learned from my parents was basically that having a working relationship/family in the 20th century (and heading into the 21st) would have been an impossible challenge, not one for ‘regular’ people of this earth to even attempt.
I was terrified and I thought I’d never want to have kids.

To my surprise, I found out that playing with this kid was fun. I realized how much it would awake my own inner child. I had glimpses of both me and the kid healing each other. I figured out that changing nappies is not that bad, that helping and serving made me happy, and that kids can be your teacher and soul mirror, and that they are not a burden, but a blessing.

I realized that all I wanted was to love this woman, and live a happy family life till the end of my days, even with her kid that was not mine, but somehow connected so much with me.

For me, becoming a dad has been a very conscious decision.
Because Joshua was already there, I was given the rare privilege to ‘give the experience a try’. But I did not take the privilege lightly: I did not want to add more harm to the kid, who had already seen his biological parent’s fights and break up!
I remember how much the ups and downs of my mum’s sentimental life and her various boyfriends coming and going hurt my feelings (I did not know of my emphatic/psychic abilities that made me absorb other people’s emotions, back then!), and how much that upbringing had broken something in me. If I had to step into this relationship for real, I better be really really sure, because it not longer was just about me and Jyothi. But our interactions and experiences till then, had made me and Jyothi understand that we were soulmates. She kept coming on my path and I, on hers. Every time we came in contact we had these flashes of past lives and we felt we had missed each other for centuries.
We had known each other for five years at this point, and I felt I loved her years before, but I was too scared to admit it, because my mind and ego were telling me that the distance would have been a problem.
How many more years did I need to waste, before I would give Love a chance? How long before I’d finally surrender and follow my heart? Now my mind and ego were trying to tell me the kid was an added complication!

But this time I did not care. I told my ego to shut the fuck up. This time I followed my heart. I kicked my own ass. I managed to find work in the Netherlands and we started to build a life together. We have been together since, albeit moved across countries a few times. We gave life to two more wonderful kids.
When we are together, that is home, regardless of where we are.

Joshua has been my teacher in so many ways. He kept me balanced. He made me see a better version of myself, and I started being that better person.
Many parents end up forgetting respect for their offspring (in obvious or subtle ways): they condemn and criticize in their children what they don’t like seeing as a mirror image of themselves; they push them to do what they would have liked to do and like what they like; they give them many ‘things’ but forget to spend time with them.
But with him not being my biological son, I did not assume I had any authority! I was always just trying to help and serve. I never had any major expectation. I helped him grow, he helped me heal my wounded inner child. He taught me more patience. He has truly been a gift that came in my life.

Too many people these days choose to have no kids – or anyway first focus on study and career, and then have only one kid, or maybe two in rapid sequence before the lady’s biological clock ticks, or because they feel pressured by society or their own parents who want grandchildren. By then, they often lost connection to their inner child, and they make it much harder on themselves – and on the kids.
I probably would have done the same, but because this kid came into my life this way, I was blessed with an early awakening.

In those early years I had a less demanding job and actually spent a lot more quality time with Joshua. In many regards, I think I have been a better, more dedicated, father for him than for my first born, Luca, because at that later point in life I was travelling for work a lot and I was a lot less around – something I regret and I am working on fixing now that I reset my life and have left the corporation.

Time flies, and I can’t even understand exactly where all it all went. Either way, Joshua turned eighteen (18) a week ago.
I am so proud of this boy, today, as I see he’s grown into a sweet, caring, sensible and hard working young adult.
I had a blast on the parenting path; something I had never even imagined I would have the guts to try.

Thank you, young man.
The world is yours.
When your heart really wants to go somewhere, but your ego and your mind oppose it, and tell you that you are not ready for that or that it would be crazy, learn to listen and go for it.
Don’t indulge in laziness. Keep your focus and your diligence, stay humble and stay honest, but don’t compromise your values and don’t ignore your feelings.
Always, always, always follow your heart.
I love you.

– Daniele