The perception of black fathers is changing and we are here for it, this year’s Father’s Day was much more peaceful on social media compared to the other years when it was changing to a “happy father’s day to my mother”. I don’t think the idea is about muting single mothers who have to play the father and mother roles, but more about celebrating the fathers who are there and present in their children’s lives. Over the years, there would be debates about mothers playing the fathers role, others would believe that their mothers were both parents, while others believed that no matter what your mother does they can never be your father or replace your father. Personally, I don’t believe that you can replace a father in a child’s life, for you to be a father you need to be a man first and go through the life experiences of being a man, therefore you can’t be a mother and a father at the same time.
What we saw this Father’s Day on social media was beautiful to watch, it was fathers giving themselves shoutouts or wives and baby mothers giving fathers acknowledgement of their contribution towards raising their bundle(s) of joy. Others would ask why would you congratulate a fish for swimming when it comes to giving acknowledgement towards fathers and what they contribute? Come to think of it, even fish get encouragement for swimming (thinking about Finding Nemo) because they understand that even though this is what you are supposed to do, it’s not going to come easy to you. This requires practice, making mistakes, figuring it out and eventually getting it right. Men don’t get as much encouragement or even guidance when it comes to parenthood, but at the same time these are the same people who have to hold the entire family together. Obviously, it’s easier for me to remove myself from responsibility as well, because our lives don’t change much between pregnancy and the time the bundle of joy arrives. Even when the bundle of joy arrives, there is no guarantee that the fatherhood switch in you will be activated. For me, the fatherhood button only turned on three months in and that’s me being with the bundle of joy every single day being a dad. At some point, I thought that there was something wrong with me because I’d heard stories from men, where as soon as they hold their children their lives changed. When I held my bundle of joy for the first time there was a feeling that I need to protect this child at all costs, I don’t know if that was the fatherhood button going on because I had no prior guidance or anyone to talk to about this. The experience while pregnant, is very different to when they are here, during pregnancy all you can do is imagine, but as soon as they are born the imagining stops and reality begins. You are dealing with a human being that is yours, but you don’t know him much and you need to be patient with him as well. A year in, I feel like more of a father than I did a year ago because I’ve seen my child grow, I’ve contributed towards his health, environment and his wellbeing in general, now I can claim to be a father and be confident about it. Being a father is tricky because everything is about the mother and the child and you are like an add on, to the point that they can live without you and if you don’t understand how important you are in that eco-system, it becomes easier for you to leave and look for validation elsewhere.
I am fortunate enough to have had both parents in my life until their end of time, but I know that is not everyone that has the same story or experience. I’ve always wanted to give my child a life similar to which my parents gave me because I’ve seen first-hand the type of confidence it gives the children because confidence begins at home. I am seeing many men trying their best to be as present in their children’s lives as possible and that warms my heart because that means fathers are in their children’s lives. That also means that we have a chance of producing less monsters for the future therefore creating a better future. This Father’s Day there was a celebration of fathers from all walks of life more than any other year which makes me happy, fathers deserve love too, fathers deserve acknowledgement too. Even those fathers who are not involved in their children’s lives now see how it should be and who they can look up to with how to do this fatherhood business. So to all the fathers, thank you for changing the perception of what a black present father looks like, next year should be even better.