Father's Day Was Tough For Me. Here's Why
Father's Day is always a little tough for me.
I usually prefer to bury my head under the pillow (wine glass in hand) and wait for Monday to show up.
That's because on Father's Day I'm reminded of all the doting, involved fathers and how my children are missing out on much of that experience. Mostly because my ex-husband now lives 3,000 miles away in London, but the other part is just because of who he is(n't).
By the time the sixth Hallmark commercial rolls through, I'm usually blaming myself for cheating my children by not picking a better spouse in the "Father" department and knee deep in a woe-is-me party.
This year, I wanted to make sure I put my own feelings aside or more appropriately, pushed past those feelings, to say something very important and personal to every father, especially African American fathers. And to the fathers who have shown fatherly love to my children.
Many African American fathers get a bad rap for being absentee, deadbeat or nowhere to be found. This is the media's stereotype of who black fathers are. Truth is, every culture has it's unfortunate share of these type of men.
But the black fathers I know are active, involved, engaged fathers who sometimes give Mom a run for her money on the taking care of kids front. I know there are thousands of black fathers out there who don't get media coverage, who don't expect a ticker tape parade and who love and cherish the journey of fatherhood. And I applaud you.
Many of them are my family, friends and colleagues. Some of them I hope you know, like, Eric Payne of "Makes Me Wanna Holler," Lamar Tyler of "Black and Married With Kids," MochaDad, and Nick Chiles, husband to My Brown Baby's Denene Millner–they are actively and publicly promoting positive black fatherhood and I'm a huge fan.
As I push past my Father's Day baggage, I say this to all fathers, especially dads of color:
What you do matters.
What you say matters.
When you show up it matters.
Your hugs matter.
Your kisses matter.
You being their biggest cheerleader matters.
You saying that you believe in them matters.
I know that sometimes the media and the statistics, and unfortunately, even some women are telling you that you don't matter. That your contributions, even the small ones, don't matter.
This is not the truth.
I know this is not the truth because I see my children longing for their father in different ways everyday. I know this because the only children who say their father didn't matter are usually speaking angrily from their jail cell–which only proves that their father did matter. Could have mattered.
Your children need you. And do not ever tell yourself otherwise, even if your money is funny and even if you have baby mama drama, or marital troubles, and even if your child gives you 'tude when you show up (they may be being influenced by other people and things but later on they will always remember that you showed up. Trust me).
And I'm grateful to my "village" of black men, all phenomenal fathers, who have generously shared their fatherly spirit with my children. These men don't have a web presence or a social media platform. Men like my own father, James Seals, who is the best grandfather ever; my Uncle James, who is always there for us; Greg Morris, who was the best father-figure my children could ask for; my friend Malcolm Whitten who always includes Michael on every DIY project he helps me with; Dwayne Bastiany, who keeps my children thinking about music and gives me good parenting advice.
These are just a few of the men I celebrated on Father's Day. All of them have shared their insights with me (even checked me when I was wrong) as I raise my young black male and my daughter, and they are my village of "fathers" filling in my gaps.
I appreciate all of you very much. You have mattered in my children's lives in ways I can't fully express.
So this year, instead of a personal pity-party, I spent the day with the children being grateful for the many "Fathers" in our life. And quite frankly, that felt a whole lot better.