Wrote this for my first Father’s Day as a father:
What is it about our society today? The eternal optimist, I truly believe that there is always hope, for the individual and for our species as a whole, but there is one thing I can’t figure out? On a daily basis, I met people – men and women – who carry so much anger and rage when the subject turns to ‘fathers’. Is it my circles or is this now a norm in our society? Why is it that when you mention that you were raised by your father, there is surprise? Why is it when you assume that a father is part of the family equation, it seems strange? When did fathers become persona non grata and what happened to create this situation? When did fathers start requiring a signifier – my ‘biological’ father, my ‘stepfather’?
I recognise my blessings and I repeat this every chance I get. My father was both mother and father to me for most of my life. Not an ideal but it is important to note that I don’t consider this abnormal. A father is just as capable and as significant as a mother. No parent is perfect and, growing up, most of my friends had fathers in the house who served as a model for the kind of men we have become. It may not have always been a constructive influence (due to our imperfections as human beings in general) but there was a male figure who helped you navigate this journey called life, growing from boy to man. I have become my father, albeit a newer, remixed version, and I am proud of it. I may have grappled with it in my twenties but, as the years add up, I have started to realise that it is not a bad thing to be, even if it is inadequately. It is said the sins of the father are visited on the son, but what is left out is that the wisdom and knowledge of the father are also absorbed, even if it is inadequately at times.
As a poet and writer, I have always wondered why there are so many poems and songs that celebrate mothers (I have a few) but so few acknowledging fathers (of which I am still trying to write the perfect one). Each parent has a role in our development and growth into decent, respectful and honourable human adults – fathers included. That’s my truth, right there.
And now I’m a father. An absolute blessing. There are few that even come close to that. From the first moment I saw my son, I knew that I would spend the rest of my lifetime doing everything in my power to ensure that he can take advantage of all that life has to offer. I knew that everything I do from that point forward will be about being a positive father (in the true emotional sense), setting an example, guiding and, often, just being there. I may not get it ‘right’ all the time and I am going to give it my best shot. And being there goes beyond just proudly standing about and saying ‘yeah, I have a child’. It is about actually being involved in the raising of this person.
For his first four months, I was there every night to dress him and put him to bed – that is our time. I can’t always do it now because of work and life, but, every chance I get, I do so. I change nappies. I wake up in the middle of the night when all I want is ten more minutes. I’m not looking for an award or any kind of accolade, that is my responsibility and I do it willingly because I am a father. Looking at him, lying in his cot, cuddling with Mr. Woofles (his doggy bear), I cannot imagine life without him. I also find it hard to understand how one could walk away from their child; and I do not think I am alone. There are many fathers out there who are actively raising their children willingly and wholeheartedly. Those who aren’t; I have no respect for. That’s my truth right there.
I have also started understanding my father a whole lot more from just looking at my son. I know that there will be moments, as he grows older, when he’ll disappoint me, when he may anger me. But I also know that I will always love him and I will always do everything in my power to help him achieve his dreams.
I hope that, in years to come, he will have the same level of respect, gratitude and love that I have for my father. And, like with everything else in this world, I hope that I will provide him with enough to celebrate and acknowledge every day and not just on one day a year, on Father’s Day in the way that my father has. The tie or the sweater is not important. It is the bond – the relationship – that matters the most. A father is not a footer, or a sub-text. Recognise.
Published in True Love