The greatest gift you can give to somebody is your own personal development. I used to say, ‘If you will take care of me, I will take care of you.’ Now I say, ‘I will take care of me for you, if you will take care of you for me.’ -Jim Rohn
It’s been three months….three months, one week, and one day to the exact moment in time where our world shifted from being predicated on our wants and desires to the care of a little man.
My son, Noah, made his debut after a long 2 1/2 weeks of April skies that dragged on longer than I wanted to wait. But Noah didn’t disappoint, eight minutes into the day of his scheduled entrance into this world, I laid eyes on my son for the first time. A surreal experience would be an understatement. I found myself in awe from the realization that we were now parents, that I was a dad. At 12:08AM on April 22nd, 2016 my wife and I became responsible for another human life. The gift of welcoming my child into the world suppressed every other feeling that may have been circling in my mind on that day. Responsibilities, fears, doubts, or anything that could take me away from being with my new family were relinquished to the moment.
I was raised in a tightly knit family. My father was a New York City Firefighter while my mother was a school teacher. I am the oldest of four siblings, two boys, two girls, and we’re all close in age. As a child, my parents wanted us to experience the world. I vividly remember how often we traveled, whether it was a road trip across country or one of our frequent visits to a park down the road. As I reminisce, I smile at the memories of playing with my siblings without a care in the world other than what flavor ice cream we would choose once the Mr. Softee truck arrived. When I close my eyes, I can still hear the whimsical tune that would stop me in my tracks and make my stomach growl no matter how long it had been since I last ate.
Although I had 4 siblings, my mother would tell you that she had 5 children. The fifth child was my father, except this child happened to be 6’4”, 250lbs with a 400lbs bench press. As a kid I took him for granted, but now that I am a father I recognize the impact my dad has had on me since those days at the park. For as long as I have known the man, my father has prioritized his physical strength. As a firefighter and defensive end for the New York City Fire Department (FDNY), he fully understood the importance of strength. For him, it was a matter of life and death.
Like most of us men fortunate enough to have our father in our lives, my dad shaped my vision of what it meant to be a man. Those times we played roller hockey, kill the carrier, and basketball in our backyard set the physical standard for which I unknowingly strived to attain all because I wanted to be like dad. All I wanted to do was out run, out hit, out wrestle, and out play my father. I was attached to his hip, I wanted to be just like him so it only made sense that when he went down to our iron-filled basement and stepped into the squat rack I would follow along and admire the man I believed was the strongest man in the world.
When my dad felt I was ready, he took my brother and I under his wing, or in this case his lat. He taught me how to Squat, Bench, Overhead Press and then we would head outside, strap up to the ATV and pull it around our yard. It was demanding, yet I fell in love with training. On a side note, I do recall a young Daniel Flanick (co-founder of More Than Strength) spending many-a-afternoons curling in my squat rack with his buddies after school. Nonetheless, the importance of physical strength was instilled in me from a young age. Strong wasn’t a commodity, it was a necessity, it was a part of life. To me, being weak wasn’t an option, learning to train was just as important as learning to walk.
Fast-forward 15 years and here I am now, a recent graduate of New York Chiropractic College and owner of my own practice in Skaneateles, NY. The majority of my patient base is middle-aged moms and dads, some of whom are more active than others. What I have come to realize is that although many of their complaints are warranted, plenty of these ailments come at the penalty of being weak and deconditioned. If only I could instill the importance of physical strength in their psyche the same way my father has done for me. If only I could show them that their backs don’t have to ache the day after they play outside with their children or they don’t have to feel too tired to be active with their family when they come home from a long day of work.
As a father to Noah I keep these values in the forefront of my mind as a reminder to myself what I want to emulate. I want to be able to play with my son the way my father did with me. I want to continue living by example so Noah grows up watching his father prioritize physical strength for the betterment of myself and in turn, for the betterment of my family. Training is an uncompromisable part of life for me, not only because I enjoy it, but because I want to enjoy my son and I want him to enjoy me. My dad always says, “he grew up with me”. I never fully understood what it meant until now. I am 26 and have a long journey ahead, but I am eternally happy that I now have my son to join me.
I love you, Noah.