"It’s okay to both remember and forget fathers; we acknowledge and reprove them. To be a father is to prepare yourself for accountability as well as affirmation.”
Some of us are familiar with the savvy and knowledge that fathers would effortlessly impart when we were younger. Children are gifts because when they’re born there’s a unique wisdom that their arrival freely imprints on their parents. One that fathers quickly begin to epitomize. Their hard-bitten words could thump your heart and mind. Everything sounded different when a dad asserted it. All that you thought made sense they could shatter with self-learned wisdom and astuteness.
Boys would try on their father’s pants and shoes. They would spray on his pungent cologne and might amuse themselves with old box cutters and CDs hidden in his belongings. Girls would shelter themselves in their daddy’s protection, and measure any man’s might against that of his. At a young age, I was visited by the dream of wanting to be a father someday– even before I knew what this role meant or asked of me. The reality is that we don’t have to have sex to be a father, and just because a boy made a baby doesn’t mean he’s prepared to be a man who can nurture life. Sho Baraka reminded me in 2004 that "any fool with a tool can reproduce. But a father is one who will see it through."
“Making a baby doesn’t make you a father and being a man doesn’t make you fit to be one”
In 2003, Beyonce apprised us of what a father’s love means to a girl in her melodic intones in “Daddy.” Passionately proclaiming how she wanted her next husband to be like her daddy.
“I still remember I called you cryin' 'cause of my tattoo. Could have said, "Beyoncé, I told ya so" Instead you said you'd get one too”
I know fathers who’ve never impregnated a woman. I know women who’ve laid with men and conceived children as a result, but they are hesitant to refer to those men as “fathers.” In the context of the Christian faith, God is referred to as “Father”, but nobody recalls Him navigating the relationships or complex structure that earth has confined a father to. This is not to say that God is not our Father. Rather, a father’s role isn’t only restricted to a person, or how we understand a working relationship between a man and woman. God has forged the design for fatherhood that we should remain in step with. But even in our attempts to mimic His strides, we fall tremendously short.
Kendrick Lamar’s “Father Time,” from his latest album, was a moment for the internet. Not only due to mainstream recognition, but a hidden part of our hearts connected with this track. A lot of people missed out on father time when they were younger. For some, it was never on their schedule. But this wasn’t always their fault.
Some fathers were and are present; some were present but not engaged, and some were simply absent. Girls need fathers just as much as boys do, and boys need mothers just as much as girls. I know both men and women with daddy issues.
If our babies are the fruit of two people’s love, then we should love them, always.
The Temptations' 1972 record “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” was a No. 1 Hot 100 single. A song about an absent father continually called on the ears of the world and is still a classic. Father’s Day is a moment of both celebrating and grieving. We celebrate the opportunities that have presented themselves to be fathers and those that have courageously donned a father’s heart. The men that looked fatherhood in its eyes and embraced it. We grieve the absence and loss of fathers that have either been carried away by life’s mischances or refused to step into the role as fear and inconsistency, or lack of resources, have all stifled their potential. But in any form, we consider fatherhood.
It’s okay to both remember and forget fathers; we acknowledge and reprove them. To be a father is to prepare yourself for accountability as well as affirmation. One question I ask a lot of men with children is “After you became a dad, when did you become a father?” To the fathers who’ve answered questions that dads have omitted, and quenched hearts that have been left dry, Happy Father’s Day.
Written by: Jaykwon Hosey