Better Than Dad
Father's Day was particularly special for my family this year. Even though my daughter is 4, it was the first year that we celebrated having an actual father in her life. I've been a single mother since before she was born, and I've been fortunate to have had family members and friends who have been positive male influences for Ayva. As much as I appreciate that, though, in my heart, I knew that it wasn't the same as her having a Daddy. I've said it before, and I stand by it still;little girls need fathers. Now whether the man in that position in her life is biological or not, that doesn't really matter. As long as there is someone safe, and loving, and genuine there (who wants to be there), that's what's most important.
Black men often get a bad rap, but I feel especially sad for Black fathers. Deadbeat dad, absentee father...society at large seems to distrust the Black male parental figure. I've read the studies, been offended by the memes, and have even personally been affected by a man who those titles, unfortunately, do fit. More often that that, however, I've seen Black fathers who love their families and would die before they let any harm come to them. They work hard to provide the best life for their children, and they are proud, so proud, to be the heads of their families. So why don't we talk about them more?
You know who else we don't talk about? The men who have stepped up to the plate to take care of children who are not their own. I'm not talking about the guys who are neglecting their own biological brood to shack up and take care of some other woman's kids. I'm talking about men like my Terrence who had no obligation to Ayva, but intentionally chose to partner with me to raise her. And it's not about, "Oh, he knew we were a package deal when he got into this." I've seen men treat their partner's children nicely, but clearly, they were still "my wife's kids". Terrence has jumped into parenthood with both feet, doing everything from joining the Executive Board at Ayva's school to leading family devotion and teaching her Bible verses, even when I'm out of town. He has decided that he's not going to be my child's stepfather, he's going to be Ayva's Daddy.
Some men make babies. That, contrary to popular belief, is really not a skill. Other men, however, real men, they take care of children. They nurture, provide for, teach, and plant seeds of care to help their children bloom. Those men, those loving, amazing men, men like my Terrence...those men are Daddies.