Hudson Valley Parent

HVP February 2017

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Page 20 of 39 n Hudson Valley Parent 21 spectacular individual accomplish- ments achieved on a given day, and more on making small improve- ments that are consistently main- tained. An instruction manual for dads Mattingly had never consid- ered publishing the lessons he had learned navigating his new-normal until a friend suggested it. "She said, 'You know Tom, you're doing a good job of this and you're a writer. Why don't you share this with other dads, so they can see how you're making this work?'" Mattingly says. "Don't get me wrong, I'm far from perfect. But my kids have all grown up healthy. My son's a genius, too, he just doesn't study." Like all of Mattingly's books, " The Single Father's Guide" is written under his pen name of Matthew S. Field. It may not have reached The New York Times best seller list yet, but Mattingly and his editor figured out the reason why has nothing to do with the quality of the book. "I think the reason for that is that guys don't like to ask for directions. And this book is basically a 15-point plan with directions," he says. What your time is worth Mattingly makes it look easy, but years of single fatherhood have led him to believe that raising a child does indeed take a village. "We've evolved as humans to be in a two-parent family, or even bigger," he says. "So that when one parent was dealing with something else - 10,000 years ago maybe somebody had been attacked by a bear and was recovering - someone else could I am a Hudson Valley Parent Thomas Mattingly: Parenting solo BY BRIAN PJ CRONIN T he opening lines of Thomas Mattingly's new book reveal the shock many parents feel when they find themselves in a life situa- tion they never expected. "Single fatherhood? Very likely, you did not plan to be here." This is not the first book the War- wick resident has written. He's also the author of children's books and a novel. But this one, " The Single Father's Guide to Life, Cooking, and Baseball," draws directly from his own life story, offering advice and inspiration to those who unexpected- ly, and sadly, find themselves in his situation. Twelve years ago, Mattingly's wife passed away; at the time making him the single father of a 7-year- old daughter (Jordan), a 4-year-old daughter (Katie), and a seven- month-old son (Wade.) Stunned and grieving, Mattingly clung to two in- disputable truths to guide him. First: "If you have your health, you have everything." And second: "Baseball is a metaphor for life." Throughout the years, Mattingly developed a game plan based around those two basic tenets. He concen- trated first and foremost on keeping both himself and his kids healthy, and used baseball as a guide for how to deal with everything else. For those who might not consider Branch Rickey, the former general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, to be a great source of parenting wisdom, consider Rickey's famous aphorism that "baseball is a game of inches." Employing this philosophy, Mattingly says he focuses less on step in to maintain consistency. When it's just you, maintaining that consistency, day in and day out, can be challenging." For those parents who don't have back-up, " The Single Father's Guide" is full of ways to maintain that consistency, such as continuing family traditions and routines. That also includes avoiding taking on any new routines, such as the chapter in which Mattingly recounts his ill-fat- ed decision to adopt a pair of kittens not long after his wife passed away. "If you don't already have a fam- ily pet when you become a single father, for the sake of your sanity, don't get one!" he writes. Mattingly has spent his time as a single father navigating back and forth between working in corporate America and working for himself. Although he's quick to point out that the substantial salary and other perks that came with his manage- ment jobs were always nice, what those jobs cost him in time was not always worth it. Today, Mattingly buys and man- ages real estate with a few business partners, which makes the unex- pected challenges that come up as a single dad easier to deal with. "I think some of these smaller, entrepreneurial opportunities that I've had provided a whole different set of rewards, and some of them are not as measurable," he says. "Like being able to study with my son for a science test this morning instead of having to be in Rochester at 8 a.m." Brian PJ Cronin is a freelance writer whose work appears through- out the Hudson Valley.

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