Today means just as much as yesterday and tomorrow, for me. I am a Father, EVERYDAY. I am a son, EVERYDAY! The theatrics and antics of today are mute, null, and void, if they are performed for the sake of presentation, and only for this moment. Will you appreciate that man tomorrow? Did you check on him last week? Did you care when no one was watching?
I get it. This is more to do with capitalism and economics than it has to do with anything else. This is a hallmark moment. Coolbeans! Carry on. But he is still important in the morning. A card, or dinner, or gesture of love and appreciation, would be fantastic on July 3rd, September 21st, November 6th, January 9th… [You get the point], every weekday that ends in y is sufficient to acknowledge and appreciate the man, or men in your life that have contributed to the AMAZING that you are.
“Father” is an incredible responsibility. It is an incredible opportunity. It is an incredible sacrifice. It requires an incredible amount of “all you have”. And even that might not be enough to satiate the needs and wants of him or her of whom you have been charged to parent. Father is an ever-evolving role. It is a position that mandates your full attention and compliance; It requires continuing education. You must be ready, and flexible. Hard, and open.
Son/Daughter don’t make being a Father any much easier. I know that my role as son has certainly tugged on the rug of my Dad’s foundation a many of times. My evolutions, and excursions, have certainly demanded a specific and profound patience from “Rock”. I know the piece of work that I’ve been. And my Dad has ALWAYS been there. Even as he didn’t have one iota of idea of where I was, who I was, or what I was! He remained who he was, who he has ALWAYS been. The amazing part about that is that EVERY good thing about me as a Father, I give credit to him for. I am so far from where I want to be, but the good that I am, I learned from such a good example.
My biological Father, Mayn, transitioned about 4 years ago. He was the man that I am named after. He was the man I resemble. He was the man that I am probably most alike. His characteristics and demeanor are responsible for mine. He is who I sought out for so many years, because it is he who I felt tied to spiritually. But he and I were never able to achieve the relationship that I wanted with him, for a myriad of reasons. His issues and choices prevented him from allowing me to learn of and from him as I desired to. My own stubborn and selfish ways rubbed him wrong. He felt as if I judged him harshly for the mistakes of his past. I only wanted answers that I felt entitled to. I was his seed, I always felt he owed me the water of his ways. But he was the stubborn that I could only bow and fold to. So we argued more than we acted, we disagreed more than we developed. But in his final moments, as he took his last breath, I was there. My sisters and I held hands and I prayed as he left this world. With no resentment, with no anger, with no hurt. I get it. He gave me life. And with his life, he gave me clues and steps. Even if it was from his bad example, he gave me a clear way towards what not to do. And truth be told, he always told me how proud he was of me for not going certain routes. He was excited that some of his vices never became mine. He loved that I had chosen another course for my life. Even as he felt a sense of threatened and intimidation of the relationship that I had with my Dad, he allowed himself to understand that I had turned out well, and I was doing well. Even in my struggles, I had a supporter and system that cared and offered me opportunity.
My son gets a better me everyday. He gets a healthier me, everyday. He gets a more experienced and optimistic me, everyday. Although we don’t live under the same roof, we have unabated access to one another. If he is not with me, technology affords the opportunity for us to see each other all the time. We FaceTime every morning. We text. We talk. I give him the me that I always wanted from my Father. I give him the me that I always wanted from my Dad. I have learned from both of the men, that are responsible for me, how to become a man, how to become a good man. And how to become a good Father. And that I am becoming. I give this experience to my son. Even while I am figuring it all out, I give him a full version of my whole self. It is the unapologetic, transparent, present and aware, me that he gets.
Not too long ago I was putting my son to bed and as I hugged him I said, “I’m so proud of you”. I then ran off a list of so many things that I am proud of him for. He responded, “I’m proud of you too”. That shocked me, I was kind of taken aback. I asked, “Why are you proud of me”? He responded, “I’m proud of the way you love me.”
I melted. If he would have asked for a Ferrari after that, I would have been trying to figure out how to get a Ferrari that night!
Being a good Father is no simple equation. One of the most amazing things I have learned along the journey of my life is how challenging a duty fatherhood is. Because I realize that it requires specifics and adjustments that are not so obvious. By definition being a Father stands as this linear ideal role suited for all, but the truth is that Fatherhood is a case by case, moment by moment, child by child, experience. Not every kid needs nor utilizes the same things. You have to be flexible. You have to be understanding. You have to be ready. You might not ever be prepared, but you must be ready! Readiness is a talent. I applaud every Father who readied himself in order to be a good Dad. I am learning what it takes to be a “good” Dad. I used to think that provision was the key. As long as you could provide, then you would be a successful Father. I equated “support” with success. I thought money was support. I thought child support was only money. I thought what I perceived was correct. But then I looked at my own life, and my own experience, and I saw where financial support without “feelings” produced resentment. And feelings without finance produced stress. There must be a balance. The scales must tip in favor of needs, not wants, or expectations, or even history. Presence matters most. Not just physical presence either, but matters of the heart and soul are key. That is the real and true “child support”, actually SUPPORTING the child, undergirding the emotions and belief systems, offering up experience and expertise on what life is and can be. Being vulnerable to the experience of learning. Fatherhood is all of that. Fatherhood is understanding the role. It is respecting the role. It is knowing your role.
Everyday is “Father’s Day” for Fathers. It is good to be acknowledged and recognized, all at once, in concert, for your efforts and accomplishments, but the work continues. The joy continues. The love continues. The support continues. I have learned how important these things are. I cherish them. I realize them. I appreciate them.
So as I mature and grow into manhood, while simultaneously taking on fatherhood, all the while learning and living my BEST life possible, I am so grateful for the now I have, because of everything that was my “then”. I am thankful for the “Father’s” of my life. For the examples and expressions of Fatherhood that I have been so fortunate to witness. For the access that I have to Brothers who were ready, got ready, learned to be ready, or readied themselves in order to fulfill the responsibility. For the Men and Mentors that stepped into the lives of others in order to provide whatever “support” was necessary. For the results that are motivation and inspiration for all to see.
Everyday should be set aside to acknowledge the significance of being a parent.
“Kids make the right people, the right people.”
-Rosko Craig, Sr.
That is what my Daddy told me. EVERYDAY I realize, even more, how true that statement is.
©2015 Cornelious “See” Flowers