A dad's take on teen fatherhood

(CBS News) Father's Day has particular meaning for our contributor Luke Burbank:

Gaby Rodriguez, a teenager from Washington State, made headlines last year when she announced to her high school that she'd been pretending to be pregnant for the better part of a year, as a senior project.

The story grabbed my attention, because back in my high school days I was an actual teen parent.

Midway through my senior year my daughter Adelaide was born. I like to joke that I had a kid at such a young age because I felt "like it was time." Of course, nothing could have been further from the truth.

Luke Burbank with his daughter Addie.
Family photo
It was terrifying, and I figured I'd ruined my life before it had even started, though I guess the being terrified part is shared by all fathers, regardless of age.

Those early years were a learning experience, to be sure . . . full of disasters and surprises. Like most parents, I amazed myself with how bad - and occasionally, good - I could be at taking care of a small human life.

While our respective parents gave us incredible moral support, they weren't able to give us much in the way of financial support, and paying for this unplanned adventure in child-raising was no easy task. Somehow, though, we were able to make it work.

Addie's mother, who I was never romantically involved with, save for that fateful night after the Junior Prom, deserves most of the credit for dedicating nearly every waking second to the proposition that a couple of teen parents, who'd limited their own horizons to some degree, could raise a child who'd have unlimited options.

And it strikes me on this Father's Day that this is what being a parent is: The terrifying realization that there's no handbook for this stuff, and yet somehow figuring out how to fake it, until you make it.

Somewhere, in all the wet diapers and skinned knees, loose teeth and broken hearts, you realize that this is probably the only meaningful accomplishment of your time on this planet.

At least I know it's the best thing I've ever done.

Luke Burbank with his daughter Adelaide.
Family photo
My daughter's 18 now, older than we were when she was born, about to start her freshman year of college. She's smart, and funny, and lights up every room she walks into.

The conventional wisdom is that Gaby Rodriguez, the girl who faked a teen pregnancy, dodged a real bullet . . . and I guess she probably did.

But on this Father's Day, when I think about the amazing-ness of my kid, the product of actual teen parent-dom, I can't help but feel like Gaby has no idea what she missed out on.

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