To all my mamas who miss their dearly departed daddies on Father’s Day:
I feel you. You are raising amazing little brown or black boys or a similarly amazing little brown or black girl, and while you do have lots of men in your life, nobody replaces your daddy. No one is stronger, smarter, more protective, funnier, wiser or able to discern how to help you fix your problems more than your pops. At least that’s how it was with mine.
My father was the first man to buy me gold earrings. They were tiny hoops, 24k gold, from Marshall Field’s. I was 14 when I got them on my birthday, and I never knew, until I was much older, that my father gave me jewelry for several reasons. One, so that I would of course be beautifully adorned, but also so that I knew the difference between trash and treasure. The situation of the creepy man on the street, hanging out at my high school and trying to give away cheap gold-plated rings or bracelets to girls in exchange for sex (which really happened, by the way) never happened to me. I didn’t need to trade sexual favors for gold from strangers. My pops gave me jewelry, not a lot of it, but enough to make it clear that I never needed to gold dig – not while I had a mother and a father and an entire extended family happy to help me get whatever I needed (and sometimes wanted) in life.
Whenever Father’s Day rolls around I find myself appreciative, conflicted and then angry throughout the day (in that order) with all the mixed messages I see floating around social media and the innanet (aka messy internet). And this is the year I want to talk about it because it has become a giant elephant in the room.
Fathers play a critical role in shaping the thoughts and feelings of their daughters at a young age. In most cases, they are the first man that a young girl sees and trusts. It’s no surprise that she hangs onto his every word. More importantly, daughters pay close attention to how a father behaves and learns much about the world through his actions. So many women look back at their father-daughter relationship with appreciation, reverence and love.
Fathers are not back-up, the help, or the assistant.
In fact, they aren’t adjuncts in any shape or fashion. They are tenured parents with full-time roles and responsibilities, other duties as assigned, and no union rights available. Fathers are parents, not babysitters. And yet I often hear them referred to in these auxiliary roles, as if they are dangling onto a family unit by a mere thread. Sometimes they even jokingly refer to themselves this way: “I’m on dad duty tonight.” I know, I know, it’s sometimes said out of love. But words matter and get stuck deep down in our subconscious and have an impact. “Duty” implies that it’s some sort of unwanted gig and “tonight” sounds like a temporary, obtrusive and interim hang-up. Why?
This is the consensus, right? It’s interesting that we sit back and believe that garbage. It’s time to shatter, crush, and dismantle that lie. I’m about to tell you something that may blow your mind and change everything you know about everything.
My 4 year-old daughter loves me to the moon and back. But I’m not Daddy. Her dad is her sun, her stars, her universe, and her best friend. Everything is Daddy this, Daddy that. We can’t go several minutes without her inquiring about his whereabouts or mentioning his name. You may think her fascination with him would leave me feeling slighted or spark twinges of envy. In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth. She’s a daddy’s girl, and I am proudly loving every single minute of it. My husband is my daughter’s Knight in Shining Armor and I am so thrilled to witness their unbreakable bond grow beyond imagination.