A lot of us don’t see our parents as people; people who are scared,who love,who hurt,who make mistakes and who are growing each day. We don’t look at our parents in the context of cultural upbringing and constraints and perhaps we never will.
By the time you see your parents as human you will probably be really close to getting a little terrorist of your own running round,depleting your resources,time and energy who you also love so much.
It isn’t easy being a father. A lot of our fathers endured strained or borderline abusive relationships with their fathers(sometimes mothers) or no relationship which they took out on us. There’s no relationship that can replace your relationship with your father. I’m saying this with the most kick-ass mother the world has ever known. There’s no one like a father.
We expect our fathers to show love in the ways that we understand and if not then they should be better fathers. They should be the dads that we mould in our heads.
I talked to a friend of mine to understand why he would deny being a father of a child we all knew was his. Beyond the laughter and the jokes he told me he didn’t want to be the father his dad was to him and so he would rather not be there than do that to an innocent child. We are living in a world with a lot of hurt and broken men. Men who don’t have a voice on such issues and men who don’t believe that they need a voice.
Did your father ever tell you how scared he was when he heard he was going to have you? Did he tell you that he had no money and had endless sleepless nights? Did he tell you that he had to do whatever job was necessary to provide. My late dad had a chips shop, had two mama mbogas and a slew of other things at different times just to provide. I’m fairly sure that wasn’t easy after a gruelling 5 years abroad without friends or family to earn an Electronics and Electrical Engineering degree. Did your dads share the financial struggles they have gone through? Did he share his journey to define himself in his life and in careers and the disillusionment he went through. Did he tell you about the challenges and complexity of marriage? Did he tell you that his marriage was falling apart and he didn’t know what to do? Did he tell you that he was struggling with alcoholism or he was drinking because he was lonely?
Did he tell you about the mistakes he made in his youth? Did he tell you about the ways he wished they would have parented you better and the fact that he wished that he was closer to you? He probably wished he could but he lived in a time when he couldn’t. He was a prisoner of his upbringing.
A lot of the structures of fatherhood were reactionary to the cultural situations and served a purpose. Men as providers servemd purpose and men held each other accountable.Men have been taught to place their value on their ability to provide and anything less than that is failure and I think that last part is where there is a need to do better. Beyond the failures ,we had fathers who were present, fathers who disciplined us, fathers who sacrificed their dreams and ambitions to raise us,fathers who had us as their priority even though they wouldn’t say it,fathers who guided us, who were extremely proud of us (most times when we were not there,always talking about us to friends or even strangers,too) fathers who gave us a fighting spirit,fathers who we are scarily similar to especially in our ways of thinking, fathers who gave us advice which didn’t make sense at the moment but means the world now,fathers who we hope to be half as good as, fathers who did their best.
Our fathers were not invincible. They were not always wise in how they did things. Our fathers had insecurities and they couldn’t share them with us.
A lot of our dads did a brilliant job and we are the proof of it. No you’re not an exceptional success in spite of your father’s failures. You’re great because he lived through them and still raised you.
If your dad is still around and you have a strained relationship with him, make a move. Move past halfway and meet him where he is. The fact that you’re able to picture a different sort of relationship with him means that you’re privileged and he gave you that chance. Talk to him. It won’t be easy but make amends. It’s never too late to repair a relationship. Do it while you still can. Be his safe space. Even the toughest of dads want a real relationship with their children which is why they start being more real with you as you grow older and have kids. Perhaps they’re seeking redemption?
It’s honestly one regret that you don’t want to live with. If it is within your power,call him,talk to him,be there for him. Forgive him.
Happy father’s day to the late Thoithi G Wang’ombe You were the best father that ever lived. I miss you now and always.