Fatherhood and Forgiveness
Vol. 1, No. 12, March 26th, 2021
I’ve had countless lessons over the years concerning fatherhood. One of the best things I’ve learned through experience is, you will fuck up. Not just a small fuck up either. As a dad, particularly one raising Black kids, you’re going to fuck up majorly. My fuck ups have ranged anywhere from telling my kids a watermelon would grow in their stomachs if they swallowed their seeds to picking them up from school with seconds left before a hefty penalty would’ve been levied. Rest assured, I’ve made more mistakes as a dad than I care to admit.
Extending ourselves grace has been the mantra during the COVID-19 pandemic. That grace needs to cover all aspects of our lives, especially parenting. We don’t always say the right things or do the right things, yet the desire to constantly be better than the day before should always be paramount.
I never imagined becoming the “I’ll make it up to you later” dad, yet I was dangerously becoming that guy while navigating an airborne disease, purchasing a new home, and coming to grips with underlying stress. During that time, my family was still my number one priority, but giving them the necessary attention was not. While quarantined, I did what some parents have done, allowed tablets and video games to fill a void, while we handled our own shit. After reflecting on my relationship with my own father when I was my children’s age, I had to really provide my kids the mindfulness they deserved.
Amazingly enough, I can recollect almost every single moment I spent extended time with my dad. Those moments shaped me into the father that I am today. My dad is your quintessential west African immigrant to the United States. He gained college degrees here and eventually moved a very young family across the Atlantic for more opportunities.
Even while in a land of perceived abundance, my dad worked two jobs to support our family. Time spent with my brothers and I was sometimes rare due to our dad’s work schedule, yet he managed to be in our lives as intimately as possible. I remember vividly the trips to amusement parks, friends’ birthday parties, the movie theater, learning to change a flat tire, and countless other events. He rarely ever made excuses on why he couldn’t spend time with us. As I grow older, I often wonder just how tired he had to be. Providing quality time to a wife and three boys can be exhausting enough, but add two jobs and a host of other commitments and that soon becomes some next level tiredness.
As great of a provider my dad was growing up and even with all of the time he spent with my brothers and I, we still bumped heads as I aged. These were equal parts growing pains for me and learning to raise children in a foreign environment for him. He didn’t have a manual on how to raise Nigerian kids in America, at the same time I grew increasingly arrogant and stubborn. We argued over the colleges I wanted to attend, future career choices, and my focus on girls over my studies. With more mature eyes, I can see that he was just doing his best at the time. Ironically, not too far removed from what I’m doing with my own children.
Being in this pandemic has helped me listen more and strengthen my patience. As a father, I’ve been apologizing quickly, yet changing my behavior just as quick. I’ve learned to forgive my dad for what I perceived to be his shortcomings, while forgiving myself for falling short of my own expectations. Now more than ever, our kids need our attention, free from the distractions of our phones or commitments from our careers. More than anything, my kids just want my attention and approval without judgement. I know the feeling of getting your father’s approval, it’s like receiving a high five from God. My mission is to extend that same level of joy to my kids. Hopefully, over the years they can forgive my missteps and look back on their childhood with me the same way I recollect mine with my dad.
Doing The Work
The quest for more Black men to become doctors
Black Men In White Coats is an organization created by Dr. Dale Okorodudu designed to inspire, expose, and mentor young Black men in the medical field. The organization was founded in 2013 after a report published by the Association of American Medical Colleges highlighted the low enrollment of Black male applicants to medical school. Dr. Okorodudu wants to provide awareness to this enrollment decline through mentoring and showcasing a short documentary that addresses the grave consequences when there are lowered numbers of Black men as physicians.
Eddie Murphy inducted into NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame
The NAACP announced they will be inducting actor, comedian, and filmmaker Eddie Murphy into their Image Awards Hall of Fame during this year’s award show. Murphy is known for his early start in comedy then television role in Saturday Night Live. As Eddie’s career continued to grow, he starred in films such as Beverly Hills Cop, Coming To America, and The Nutty Professor.
What I’m Listening To
This week I’ve been listening to a hodgepodge of different music genres. What’s really been in heavy rotation is an album that dropped eleven years ago, New Amerykah Part Two by Erykah Badu. It’s smooth listening throughout the album. What was impressive for me was Erykah’s R&B interpretations of some hip hop classics. Stand out songs include “20 Feet Tall”, “Window Seat”, “Get MuNNY”, and “Gone Baby, Don’t Be Long”.
In not-so shocking data, an article written in the peer-reviewed journal, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, reveals that Black men are still discriminated against at higher numbers than other demographics regardless of economic status. We’ve known all along that our money will never shield us from the ugliness of racism, neither will the way we dress or speak. Additionally, we know that discrimination takes a mental and physical tool as well. Black men, make your mental health a priority. Stay safe and stay dangerous. Research can be found (here).
The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism. - Wole Soyinka