Now that Father’s Day has past, I can finally sit with my thoughts that seem to surround this holiday. Every year for the past 36 years, I have found myself facing a funk that seems like it will just not leave me alone. I am the child of a single parent. My father has not been present. I no longer attempt to know the reasons why. All I know with certainty is that my father has not been actively engaged with me.
The only reason I celebrated the day was my grandfather. That man is my man 100 grand. I would not have made it through my most formative years without him. Nevertheless, I realize more than ever the void of not having a father present.
I never ascribed fatherly attributes to my mother. Our relationship has had its own struggles of being mother and son. She has openly admitted that she was working with the best that she had. I know that to be true. Not one day goes by when I don’t assess the sacrifices made and the challenges endured attempting to raise a young black man. Yet, the father void persisted.
Fast forward to yesterday. I stand in my home with my family sharing thoughts on fatherhood. As I stood in the same home that holds the memories of my formative years and now the future of my son’s dreams and aspirations, I held my son close to me and gave thanks to God that Charles Jeremiah will never know a day in his life where my voice and love is not present. That knowledge is the greatest joy of my life.
I submit to you that I possess an internal conflict. One side of my being understands the difficulty some people have in acknowledging strong fatherhood in the midst of their own experience. I will not take it to the levels of faulting or shaming anyone for the relationships or decisions that were made in a certain season of life. Everyone makes choices. Everyone connects with who they want in a season. Everyone is not always the full manifestation of maturity. So, I recognize why there are women who take the time to express the need to highlight their exemplary performance as mothers who go above and beyond for their children in so many areas.
Yet, another side of me struggles with the tearing down of fatherhood. Before anyone becomes deep, let me state my argument. I have heard so much about what men were not doing. Yet, every day I see and witness so much to the contrary. The majority of men that had major impact on my life are fathers. I may not have had mine, but I was around to many good fathers not to be impacted. While I can accept the sentiment and realities of the struggle of single mothers (remember I am a product), I can not live with a lack of balance regarding fatherhood.
Being on both sides of the issues, I believe I possess a greater mandate to demonstrate the best possible example of fatherhood to my son. It is not about the male dynamic alone. If or when I have a daughter, the same mandate applies. I realize how much the presence of a father matters to the development of a child. CJ knew my voice the moment he came out of the womb. Why? I talked to him every day while he was growing inside my wife. He moved in the womb at the sound of my voice. The footprint I have made in CJ’s life began before arrival.
I can truly say that I would give anything just to have the choice of whether my father would be enough for me. The choice was made for me. I never gave consent. I was not consulted. I can’t assess the level of his paternal abilities. My father was absent. I don’t know why. Yet, I can not ascribe blame to his actions. I don’t know the reasons for his disappearance. But, I do know that I praise the work of fathers who do not need to be questioned in motive. I say thank you to those who put in the work and time to cultivate a generation of better people.
I live in a tension that may never go away. I live in it with the hope of helping the hurting and encouraging the selfless. May God work this tension to produce something beautiful for the future.