For those of us living here in America, Mother’s Day is fast approaching. Sunday, May 14 will be upon us soon. Mother’s Day is a day set aside to honor and appreciate all mothers and their contributions to our lives.
I am fortunate enough to still have my mother. She, along with my grandmother (her mother) are easily two of the best ladies I know. Both have had a profound effect on my life. It’s fair to say that I may not be who I am today had I not had my mother, and to a lesser but still important degree, my grandmother.
With all that said, I’m still fortunate enough to have my father as well. His contribution to my life can’t be overstated. He taught me the value of hard work. He instilled work ethic in me. He instilled pride and an insatiable curiosity about the world in me. From him, I learned honesty, courage, and decency. He taught me that as a man with a family, you are charged with their wellbeing; even if that means that you do without. I’ve seen my father wear a pair of shoes until his toes were showing because I had to have some bullshit that I didn’t even need and he didn’t want to disappoint me. Above all, my father saw my potential at an early age and encouraged me to have dreams and cultivated my talent.
Now, I know that fathers have their day, and some may ask why not save this for Father’s Day? Fair enough. I bring it up as we near Mother’s Day to prove a point. Over the next week or so, we undoubtedly will be bombarded with and regaled by untold amounts of stories about mom. However, dad never gets his due. Being a father is often a thankless job.
Being a father is a lot like oxygen. You don’t appreciate it until you don’t have it. See, when everything is going like it’s supposed to, dad is never noticed. Dad and his contributions to the family are always downplayed. For example, take a look at any sitcom. The dad is always seen as a bumbling idiot and in need of a woman to straighten him out. The dad is almost always portrayed as uncaring or disinterested in the family. This trope, well let’s call it what it is, a stereotype, is well known.
In the black community, black dads have become endless fodder for singles mothers, and represent all things evil to a lot of black women. They’re the easiest target because they have little to no voice. We’ve all heard that 72% of all black children are born out of wedlock. We know the stereotype about the “ain’t shit” or “deadbeat” brother.
In spite of all this being taken for granted, a father’s contributions to the family are conspicuous by his absence. All studies on the matter show that children that are a product of 2 parent homes, in the aggregate, go on to be better, well-adjusted adults than their single mother counterparts. Studies also show, that despite the stereotype, black men are in fact the most involved fathers. Any way you slice it, the value of dad, especially black dad, can’t be overstated. Shit, science even tells us that while the mother carries a child, life itself is given to the egg from the sperm. So there again, dad is important.
Despite all manner of evidence that points to the contrary, dad and his importance continues to be downplayed and undermined. Father’s Day is trivialized. It isn’t as big of a deal as Mother’s Day. Hell, there’s even an industry that gives women cards for Father’s Day. It’s funny because to me at least, because in some ways, I guess this is the only way it could be. My father always told me that a man shouldn’t look to seek credit for shit that he should be doing. So, I guess it’s fitting. Even so, despite all reports to the contrary, there are brothers in this world doing great things as dads, and some are doing the most unappreciated job , raising someone else’s child. Hopefully, for more than one day, these quiet soldiers fighting a silent war can be recognized. So, from one brother and father to another, I’m recognizing you brothers. Keep finding the strength to do what needs to be done. Keep on raising the next generation. Never let a woman make you feel like you aren’t just as important to your child as she is.