Today, I feel a dash of apathy in my flavorful soul. I really didn’t want to write this because I don’t want people to know how I feel. I don’t want people to see me this naked and unprotected. But as one of my assignments from my psychology class, I figured I’d medicate myself by breathing life onto this blank landing pad. I said that I’d work on my emotional intelligence by stating how I feel. It’s always “what do I think” because I’m always in my head. The truth is that I feel more solace in my head than I do with my emotions; chaotic to the idea that emotions speak in a way that the mind cannot comprehend.
Oh, how brittle I feel in this unpinned moment.
I saw your picture today, pop; and it almost seems unfair to me that it came to me faster than these words are arriving cordially late on this blank landing pad. I’m enduring a psychology class that deals with relationships, and in this moment I recall an assignment where I was to select 5 relationships that mattered to me the most. Out of those fabulous 5, I was to select one that I felt that needed development. You weren’t even in the top 5. And I remember at age 5 that you were. I remember at age 6 that my eyes deployed tears as if they were going to flow to you. And that you would recognize that there could only be one reason why there was a tiny stream of tears in your path. The imaginations of a little boy; faintly innocent huh? I’ve been in my skin for almost 29 years, and I’m thankful that little boy is not dead. Sure, he’s a bit buried by the webs of experience, but he’s still alive housing my imagination. And it’s rare when my imagination grips me by the palm, and takes me to those golden days when we were close. Instead, the logic that I’ve inherited from you has cuffed me by the wrist, and pulled me to the eternal now saying “those days are over, move on, bro”. And on most days, I move farther and faster than the Man of Steel. But do I want to be that hard? How Super of a Man would I be to attempt to save the world, and leave my son to suffer?
One of my most penetrating fears is that my son will feel brittle about me with the same texture that I feel about my father. That he will one day develop an uncanny ability to poeticize and philosophize about life as a consequence of not being able to express his feelings….about me. I fear that one day he will look at me, mid-20-something, accomplished, handsome and distinguished, and say “dad…what took you so long to come back for me? I know I heard you say that you were going to come back for me. What happened? What were you doing? Did you get lost? I mean, you stopped calling to the point that I forgot how you looked. My mom had to remind me that I was created in the image of you. My mom had to remind me that you went chasing money as a means to find a way for us to be together. So what did I do? I went chasing money as a means to find a way for us to be together. And here I am today; 20 years later, pop. I’ve always had the money for us to be together; you taught me how to love money without even having to be here. What took so long for me to reach out was…. was that I was afraid….I was afraid that you weren’t as sensitive as I was about seeing you. I denied my feelings for so long, that I just stayed in my head. Heh, but check it, though; I’m one of the most distinguished professional in my industry because of how pragmatic and dedicated I am. Like, word up, I make soooo much money for my company, pop. We gets it in! They nicknamed me Terminator, cuz I be killing the game; machine-like, ya know? (chuckles) Am I married? Nah, heh. Most of my relationships didn’t last no more than 6 months. They always say that I’m bottled up and sh!t, and…and that I don’t express how I feel. They say I’m repressed and…and….that I close them out. You know women be trippin’ though, heheahah; overly emotional over nothing. And they’re supposed to be understanding, right? Hehe, perfect gentleman, though! Charming, intelligent, spiritual, generous, articulate, and all of that blah. They be loving how a brotha put it down in the bedroom (chuckles). It’s crazy pop! When they threatened to leave, I’d shrug them off, and let them go; not one tear from me! Nope. I’d even pray that they found someone better, because I knew I wasn’t enough. I never believed that I was enough. (shrugs) but… whatever. I’m happy with being alone, ya know? I am who I am.”
The thought of receiving a dose of this poison makes me want to implode. “They’re just words”, I would convince myself. I’d do this just to stay in my head; further away from my emotions with thoughts at the speed of sight.
I called you yesterday, pop. My ex-girlfriend inspired me to call you. I don’t really celebrate Father’s Day, so I figured I’d call early just to talk. I left you a voicemail. But I knew you wouldn’t call back. I heard through my mother than you were in jail late May, so I didn’t expect you to have your phone activated. I just….didn’t want anyone saying that I was irresponsible in trying reach out. Last time I reached out to you, I wrote a letter and sent it to you on Facebook. But, heh, I know you’re not active on social networking. Maybe, inherently, I knew you wouldn’t get that message. Heck, it took me years just to add you as a “friend”. (chuckles) does that mean I perceived you as the enemy before? I don’t know. I did my best to avoid some the choices that you made. I made sure that I took plenty of pictures with my son, so that he will know that he was made in my image. I want him to know that I travelled the world and back just to see him. I quit jobs and turned down job offers just so that I can connect with him; hard times together are more valuable than easy money, sometimes. I never resorted to pimping, prostitution, gang-relations, weapons or drug trafficking. But I was a consumer. I never went to jail, and I never hit a woman. I did raise my voice once to my ex-wife, though. It was just that one time out of the 8 years that we were together. It was when I discovered that she was involved with another man; a man who was emotionally available for her. What did I expect, there? (shrugs) And as of today, I only have one son. It was surprising to know that I had an older sister, and more surprising that I had another younger one. I’m doing my best not to be the antagonist in this life, pop. And I’m doing my best to make sure you’re not perceived as the antagonist. I don’t hate you. I do understand why you are the way you are. I had to go through it myself. And I don’t think people understand that about fathers who abandon their kids. I did it too; just so I would know. Just so I wouldn’t judge and impose my views, but rather accept things as they are and change what was my responsibility. Today, I understand you and a lot of men in this world….even if I don’t agree with the choices.
As I write this, I’m hearing a little boy outside of my hotel room calling for his dad. “Daddy……daddy…..dad……….dad” Coincidence? Maybe. If it’s one thing that I know about becoming a man, it’s accountability. Mom taught me that. The education system taught me that. The US Army taught me that. And I know that I’m accountable for my relationship with you and my son. I haven’t perfected my solution, but I’m still in the process. I still feel undeserving in a lot of ways. Like when my son sang a song to me yesterday when I called. He sang “I love you, and you love me. Cuz I love yoooou, and you love me.” For almost 2 minutes. And no matter how sentimental that moment seemed, it could surmount the reality that I’m here, and he’s there. I almost felt numb; but I didn’t let my ego block this blessing. I wanted to apologize to him, ya know? I wanted to tell him that I’m sorry I wasn’t there for him to give me his version of a Father’s Day gift. I wanted to tell him that I’m sorry I wasn’t there for his graduation to the 2nd grade…or his first day in the 1st grade. I wanted to tell him that I’m sorry that we couldn’t spend more quality time together this summer because I’m out here seeking higher education and a job so that he’ll have what he needs to live. I’m sorry for not having a house after all of those years of paper-chasing. I’m sorry that I wasn’t there to welcome him to Earth when he was born; I was preparing for my deployment to Iraq. I’m sorry for all of the extensive moments of emotional absence. Seeing him twice a year isn’t enough for me either. I’m sorry I that I don’t call as often as I should. I’m sorry for placing so much distance between us. I’m sorry that we can’t play the XBOX together on Saturday mornings, exercise together, or read books and study in the same space. One of the reasons I kept this content concealed is because I always get >>> “Don’t be so hard on yourself, John”. That’s not what I want to hear. (sighs) I guess that’s why I write my feelings down before I reveal them to others. The paper is more of a mirror; it reflects. It doesn’t talk back; it echoes. Heh, too hard on myself….ya know… it’s ironic because my son’s mother says I’m too soft. Again, this isn’t a rant or a call for encouragement, sentiments, or compassion. I’m a good father, this I know. I have the experience, the witnesses, and the pictures to prove it. And I don’t even think my father is a bad father. He’s been with my little brothers during their childhood; heavens, at least they were fortunate to know him so well. I understand my father and the reason he made his choices, which gave rise to our distant existence. I take so many pictures to capture these quick-paced motions through space. So that one day, when my son asks “where did you go all of this time?” I can show him that while I was gone, I was growing. I was preparing. And when he sees the places I’ve been, the things I’ve done, the people I’ve met, the life I’ve lived, he can say to himself that despite all of my works, I gravitated back towards him. He can say to himself “wow, that’s my ..my dad right there. If he can do all of those things, so can I”
I feel a certain way when people give praise to “The fathers and not the sperm donors”….I’m like “what exactly do you seek to accomplish there? To me, that’s an ignorant distinction. First off, without that sperm donor, um…would that child even exist? And I definitely don’t feel better about the distinction considering that I am a father legally, biologically, and by experience. Making those sh!tty ass distinctions doesn’t make me feel good about being a father. A portion of my fatherhood depends on my donation of a sperm to the egg. This means that my genes are in that seed! My influence is with that child before television, school, and culture are. I understand the intention, but if there was any reason to possibly inspire a few irresponsible men to become more fatherly, making that distinction ruins it. A man being present in a boy (or girl’s) life doesn’t automatically qualify him as “father status”. You see this dude every day at home; he’s f!cking your mom and living with ya’ll like an extended roommate. He doesn’t help you study. He doesn’t teach you how to be a gentleman, or what to look for in one. He doesn’t teach you how to play Call of Duty or make dreams more dense. He whoops your ass when you make bad grades, but doesn’t say sh!t when you make A’s and B’s. He doesn’t ask what you strive be when you grow up, or even cares about your passions. He tells you to do things that his ass wouldn’t do; authoritative ass. He straight up doesn’t know you and doesn’t care. But you love him because he paid the bills, and keeps your mom in a decent place sexually. Have you ever heard a boy tell his step-dad “you’re not my dad!!!”? Imagine being a step-parent; told by a child “you’re not my real mommy/daddy….you’re just a provider!” Some would get mad! Why? Because there’s some truth to it. You’re not the biological parent, but you’re a legal guardian. You’re partly a father/mother. We often give more value to the nurturing/disciplinary/providing aspect of being a parent, and diminish the biological contribution. Many children feel a connection with their biological legacy, and seek to resolve the separation in their own way. My son has had numerous step-father’s in my absence, yet no matter how present they are, it cannot surmount the inherent desire of him wanting to be closer to me. To feel complete by knowing where he came from and who’s image was he made in, despite the fact that what matters most is who you are forever in the moment of now.
Below, we have a man who’s present in the little boy’s life. Yet, what is the assumption here?
Son: “Daddy, I fell in love & want to date this awesome girl!”
Father: “That’s great son. Who is she?”
Son: “It’s Sandra, the neighbor’s daughter”
Father: “Ohhh I wish you hadn’t said that. I have to tell u something son, but you must promise not to tell your mother. Sandra is actually your sister.”
The boy is naturally bummed out, but a couple of months later
Son: “Daddy, I fell in love again n she is even hotter!”♥♥
Father: “That’s great son. Who is she?”
Son: “It’s Angela, the other neighbor’s daughter.”
Father: “Ohhhh I wish you hadn’t said that.
Angela is also your sister.”
This went on couple of times and the son was so mad, he went straight to his mother crying.
Son: “Mum I am so mad at dad! I fell in love with six girls but I can’t date any of them because daddys their father!”
The mother hugs him affectionately and says: “My love, you can date whoever you want. Don’t listen to him. He isn’t your father.”
All in all, I just want to say joyful Father’s Day to the educated who educate their children, and the under-educated men who try. Joyful Father’s Day to those who protect, provide, and discipline. Joyful Father’s Day to the sperm donors; whether responsible or irresponsible, without you, the child wouldn’t exist. Joyful Father’s Day to the uncles – because yea, sometimes when the other man isn’t around, you’re the substitute. Joyful Father’s Day to those who pay child support and have no visiting rights – if that little bit you paid was sh!t to nothing, she would dismiss the court order. Joyful Father’s Day to the women who claim to be mothers AND fathers; if you’re a father and a mother, then you’re asexual in nature. And by my standards, that’s the only way you can celebrate both holidays.
Praying that my emotional intelligence elevates in time; I actually felt more here than I thought.
After writing this…I feel like my inner child was reaching out to me…..(sighs)