The world just walked out of Father's day this past Sunday. The social media corridors were littered with toothless snaps of ourselves and our dads sporting afros and tweed jackets and bell-bottoms. For the millennials it was different types of pictures but we all did.
Mothers posted pictures of their husbands in all imaginable settings; diaper changing, body swinging, beach-ing, reading to, reading with, holidaying with, ice cream eating, or children on daddies' laps, with heart felt messages of "what would we be without you". Blessings in suits and gym wear and overalls in two feet were celebrated world over. It was a wonder to watch.
Then came the "bitter ones" as some decided to call them. I would not call them that. What would you celebrate when you haven't an idea who your father is, is it a celebratory moment for you? I would think not. Some argued "why bring it up on father's day?" Well, why not? See this is your everyday reality, and father's day is just but another day, but no it reminds you that as the world aaaaahs and ooooohs over its daddies you don't have one or know one to ooooh over. Rejection is painful and that of an absent father even more painful, because you have very little control over it.
Why won't this person stay for you?
Why can't he love you?
Why does he love his other children but not I?
Am I not good enough?
But I'm a pretty cool kid!
What doesn't help most situations is when you don't even know who this person is. Our culture does not allow questions, especially not "who my daddy mommy?" Lest a kaffir klap rattles your teeth off the gums!
I spoke to a lady who from fifteen years started piecing things together until seven years later arriving at this man's big clean big office and tell him "I'm Tlami, your daughter!" Nothing came of that of course, more rejection. And according to her that rejection felt a lot more painful than the one she had lived with all her twenty two years with a wonder of a father in her imagination.
"What had you hoped for?" I probed
"I don't know man, I don't know. What kept playing in my head prior to that was definitely not that. I had hoped for a "oh Tlami my child is this you? I have yearned for you, I have longed for you, and I have waited for this day. But I don't even think he knew my name. The forced smile and disinterested shock on his face froze me and split my guts in half and I went back to my university dormitory and cried myself to sleep. I woke up and wrote that man dead and channelled everything I had into my under grad. I like my life, but I sometimes wonder if it wasn't that emotion that I owe this Dr Title to. It's all that mattered, from that day, from that rejection!"
And then there is the 'bitter' mother raising a child on her own. The same questions play again. You and I may have issues and can't be together, but why won't you stay for your blood? Why won't you acknowledge your blood?
The child did not choose to be born. You made this child, fully aware, or not, but it doesn't take away that this is your own. Acknowledge and nurture. I've wondered before, do men have it this easy about this walking business because really all there is to making a child for them it to ejaculate sperm whereas a woman gets this thing growing in them from conception to birth with minimal choice of being there or not? You're stuck, and maybe it's a great thing we're made with feeling because you'll love that child to your last feeling if it's the only thing you can do.
It has been argued that a lot of ill in society can be attributed to absent fathers. Could be right! I haven't done any research of my own, but have you tried cooking with a three legged pot with one of its legs missing? I didn't think so either...
I think men can do better. Half the time the women aren't even asking that you stay, just support your child or help raise it. Be a figure in its life; come by, play with the child, talk to the child, this is someone growing into something, allow for a relationship with the child, just be present!
I've seen and heard men cry about not being allowed to be part of their child, or just their lives made difficult by the mothers of these children to want to be a part of their lives. How lame! Want it bad enough to know the law can help you be part of it, seek help if you must. Remember in the end the one who gets scotched more is neither you not that child's mother, but the child, with debilitating consequences!