City: Indianapolis, IN
Children: 3 daughters aged 17, 16, & 10
I can think back to the very day I found out I was going to be a father. I was terrified. Not because I was becoming a father but because I had no idea how to tell my mother. I was only 16 years old when I found out and was still in high school. How could I let my mother down like this? My mom took pride in how “good” her kids came out and now here I am about to tell her that she is about to be a grandmother. Though she didn’t know I wasn’t such an innocent kid, I tried my best to let her believe that I was because she took so much pride in it. The fact that I was an actual father didn’t hit me until my daughter was born and that was scary as hell to me. I had no idea what to do. I’m this young man, in school, running with my friends being a juvenile and now I have a life that I am responsible for other than my own. I literally had no idea what to do, so I did what I’ve always done. I rebelled against responsibility. I wanted to be a good dad, I wanted to be a good man for the mother of my child but the reality is, I had no idea how to do that and the worst part was that I never said that to her. I would make excuses for feeling like a failure, feeling like I wasn’t good enough or worthy enough. I’d rather hang with the homies, get drunk and smoke weed. I emotionally abandoned my woman and my child all because I was scared to become exactly what I was or what I thought I was, a failure.
Me and my now wife had another child. Still in high school might I add. She stayed with me and my mother at the time. I remember we argued about cold medicine that my daughter needed and neither of us had the money to get it. In the middle of the argument, I got up and left the house. It was pouring raining outside but my anger which I now know as shame, had overcome me and it didn’t matter. My mom worked at CVS about a mile and a half away from the house. I walked all the way there and I stole some cold medicine for my daughter. My mom wasn’t at work at the time and it was the night shift so I felt pretty safe stealing. The walk home was longer because now I had the time to really look at myself. Walking back into the door, handing my girl the medicine and seeing my daughters, I knew that a change needed to be made and I needed to be responsible for these girls. Mind you, I still had no idea of what I was doing. It was difficult to detach myself from the irresponsible life that I had lived for so many years. But the seed was planted, so what now?
I began to seek therapy a few years ago and I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I could have made. I had a rough childhood. Though my biological dad wasn’t around nor did I even know him, there was a man in the house. He was not a good man. I will not divulge into the abuse this man put us thru but I will say that he and my absent father shaped the young man I was becoming. He was my youngest brother’s father and now that I am older I can see that he suffered deeply. Instead of taking the route I took to try and become better, he let his anger, resentment and bitterness overtake him. He was cruel and mean, I’m sure I saw horns on his head one night as he laid asleep on the couch and I found my uncles gun and was ready to kill him until I seen my brother on his chest asleep as well. His presence shaped me but my father’s absence shaped me as well. Til this day I cannot stand a woman beater or a man that will put kids in harms way. My father’s absence made me believe that all I had to do was be around my kids, make sure they knew who I was. As long as I never left or abandoned them, then I was a good dad. Yet again, I was wrong but my presence did grant me the opportunity to grow and change. Going to therapy helped me understand how all those past traumas shaped me as a man before I even became a father. It made me understand my role in this world and why I was the father that I was. I needed to be able to heal and forgive myself before I could be the dad that my children deserved. I thank God that I made that decision and was able to take that painful journey for my entire family’s sake.
The biggest things my children have taught me is patience and unconditional love. With me having three daughters, two of which are teenagers, my biggest challenge is patience lol. No one ever told me that attitudes are contagious and can spread like wildfire throughout your home. Let me break it down, you’re already juggling three different personalities at once, trying to hear everyone and then someone gets an attitude about the most minute thing. This attitude spreads to the next child and the next child. I have to quickly adjust my brain to figure out what happened and then how to stop it and somehow that attitude travels thru the vents and finds my wife. The only thing I can do is tell everybody to shut the hell up and separate while I figure this out. Though juggling these personalities and trying to make everyone happy is a struggle, I do get pure joy out of being able to do just that. My children let me know how much they love me every day. They let me know in their own three different unique ways that they appreciate my love. Father’s day is actually a great day for me. The amount of love and appreciation that is shown to me is amazing. I feel like I matter to them and the fact that I am in their lives means matters to them as well. They don’t let anyone talk negative about their dad but them lol.
I have to admit something, I like it when I see new young fathers and they are scared shitless. Because I know exactly where they are mentally and emotionally and I know that I can help. The number one thing that I tell young lost fathers is, find yourself. It is very difficult to be an effective dad when you are lost as a man. It’s important to make sure you give all that you have to your child and it’s okay to not have a lot but still be giving all that you have. While you are giving what you do have, you need to make time to figure yourself out. You need to know what kind of man you are and you need to be honest about it. If you are a piece of shit than you are a piece of shit but it doesn’t have to stay that way. You deserve to be the best version of yourself. You deserve to be happy and feel fulfilled. With that, everyone else around you will benefit. Now I must warn you, there will be people that are going to kick you when you are down. This can be your own family, the mother of your child’s family and even the mother of your child. I’m here to tell you, Fuck You will be your biggest ally. You cannot let what people say or think about you deter you from your mission. They don’t know you and all they see is the person that they want you to be and if you don’t take the time to be who you want to be, you will try and fail to be everything that they want. You will resent them and you will hate yourself. Be a man, be a father, be a contribution to this world.