I have always felt awkward at the concept of celebrating Mother’s and Father’s Day. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the significance of it: taking the time out to recognise the special work done by persons in these roles. However, I suppose in my case, growing up it wasn’t that big of a deal which maybe coloured the way I presently feel about it. I get that it is something special particularly for children, but as fast as you shower me with lovely kisses and carefully curated meals is as fast as I have to complain the next day about the dishes you left for me in the sink to wash!
So Mother’s Day was not too hyped up but Father’s Day was completely uncomfortable. The latter used to affect me in the sense that I didn’t have that special ‘daddy-daughter’ relationship that I saw friends go on and on about. I mean he fulfilled the basic tasks which I suppose in his way brought himself pride and satisfaction as a father (i.e. things that could come up in a discussion with his friends): “ah hadda drop meh daughters to school”, “ah carry meh daughter to drive”, “ah carry meh daughter to see which part she going and work”. So there was a sense of pride he felt in his doing the things that he felt he did which gave him satisfaction as a father. Once his ego was satisfied, that was it.
As far as I can remember, my father has never wished me happy birthday, he has never given me a hug, he has never genuinely asked me how I was going, or how I was getting along with life, he doesn’t know what I like to eat, he doesn’t know my favourite drink, he has never discussed with me the type of boyfriend I should look for or man I should marry, he has never said I Love You or words to that effect. In other words, he has never met me on my level as a father would towards his daughter. He has done all the things that would outwardly show that he was a father but for the deeper things that would matter as a child, he was most absent.
As I grew older and was able to provide materially for myself, it left him with nothing to do, say or ‘brag’ about. I tried to ensure that he continued his sense of ‘fatherhood’ by letting him to fulfill these tasks which he considers important with his grandchildren. But eventually, I suppose it interrupted his new lifestyle which currently has nothing to do with his family. When he is at home, he is present in body but absent in spirit, so it is as though he does not exist and may continue as such until the day the Lord steps in.
All of this is really to point out that there are fathers are to themselves think they are fulfilling the role: those who are spending money by the hundreds and who buy the latest, who do all the material things that the ego allows but who are failing in actually knowing and loving their children. Thankfully I was able to grow through it, see past it and heal from it and my healing does not need an Iyanla Vanzant ‘Fix my Life’ type sit-down with everybody heaving and bawling about who done right and who done wrong. People are who they are and once we’ve accepted that in some cases, time does not bring change, that’s good for the soul and everybody can move on. It worked for me.
I am able to discern the good fathers. I picked a good one who I married who is first class with the children he fathered and the child he did not. I have friends who are superb in the role and these are men in steady relationships and men who have ‘child mothers’ and are excellent with their own children even in a Trinidadian court system that doesn’t cater for them. I have friends who are in no relationship but will make great fathers when the day comes and those who are passionate uncles and godfathers, appointed or not.
I salute these men, and all like them. They create balance in a world that sometimes isn’t fair to them. They cancel out the ones like my own father and will continue giving hope to the restoration of a positive worldview of men and fathers in general. Happy Father’s Day to all that deserve it! May you truly get all you richly deserve and more!