Father: A man who has begotten a child. The definition so simple but yet the concept is so complex. First off, Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers reading this right now. Your job is one of a warrior who constantly goes into battle for the love of his country but seldom accept or receive proper gratitude for all you do. For your humility, I salute you.
I grew up in a single parent home with my mom serving as both the father and the mother; a narrative far too common for millennials from a low socioeconomic background. Despite being in a single mother household the void of my biological father wasn’t great. As I reflect on my upbringing, there were consistent male figure in my life who saw me through each phase of manhood.
The myth of having to procreate to be a father is truly just that, a myth. A father is someone who takes care of a child in need, with hopes that someone would take care of their child in his absence. My mother had me as a young adolescent and my earliest memories are those of my uncle teaching me how to draw, write and multiply. Not only did he teach me lessons I would never forget, he also role modeled drive, discipline and ambition. Characteristics that I took on in my own life. As time went by and I progressed in my journey in becoming a man, I attended church with my mom. Those who identify with “church-going” mothers, know the church routine. Sunday (formal church service), Monday (prayer), Tuesday (choir rehearsal), Wednesday (bible study), Thursday (choir rehearsal), Friday (youth services) and Saturday off unless there’s a convention. Through church I gained great friends, some with fathers and some without. My best friend was the son of the organist, his wife also was a good friend of my mom. My mom was in the choir and developed a group of married couples friends who all had children around my age. We all grew up together, so close that I call their moms and dads, my aunts and uncles in exchange for the formal greetings. Each of the fathers of my friends played an integral role in my life. My best friend’s dad taught me the basics of playing piano, another father taught me the meaning of hard work by paying me to rake the leaves and cutting the grass, while another father taught me the importance of being presentable and teaching me how to tie a perfect double windsor knot. Each of these gentleman stayed with me as I grew up into a young man. When I played sports they offered me advice on improving my game and even attended my games. When I was a knucklehead, they even expressed their disappointment in my actions and told me that’s not the way men behave. Each of them simultaneously dropping jewels of wisdom that I carry with me to this day. These lessons of being a man all came from men who biologically weren’t my father, but I revered them with the same admiration. Those lessons of being a man that they taught me, I also passed along to my friends. Holding them to these principles told to me and used as a guideline to growing up in a fatherless home.
As an adult, I watch my friends interact with their children and it brings me joy to the point where it moves me to tears (internally lol) . As I stare in awe at the constant balance of being stern but approachable in their handling of their children they display tactics I hope to use with my own children one day. But why wait until then? My community raised me. The men who took the time out to coach, teach, and mentor me were my fathers. These were men of many backgrounds who invest in the youth of today in hopes of creating a better tomorrow. So can’t I do the same?
Often time as a community we get caught up with “I” syndrome, but life is about giving back and making sure those after us have better. You don’t have to be a biological father to change a person’s life. You never know who you’re impacting through your everyday life. The way you hold yourself as a man and the way you preserve trials are all testimonies that can be shared with those who come after you and who look up to you. It truly takes a village to raise a child and if it wasn’t for my village I wouldn’t be where I am today. So thank you to all the father’s who took me in as their own and to you I say Happy Father’s Day.