I pretty much grew up without seeing my father on a regular basis. His presence was very sporadic and irregular. He was out living his life, womanizing, and entertaining his own wounded inner child. When I was 17 years old and getting ready to head on out and start my life on my own, I said to myself that I wanted to go into adulthood purged of residual feelings of anything for my dad.
Before I shipped off to the army, I paid my father a surprise visit at his job one day. He had just finished a session with a client and smiled as he let me in. I could tell he was very happy to see me. In fact my father was always happy to see me. Although his presence wasn’t regular, when we saw each other he would reconnect with me like he had never left. I found that very odd and would be standoffish at his behavior. A classic Leo man, he was a charmer. Handsome, intelligent, very big on his appearance, and loved to be the center of attention.
I sat down on the sofa across from his desk and never took my jacket off or my bag off my shoulder. “Listen Joe”, I began very matter-of-factly, “There’s some things I want to get off my chest before I turn 18 about you and I just need you to listen”.
“Oh?”, his smile never left. He actually looked amused.
I went into detail about him not being around and basically abandoning me and my brother. I told him how it affected me as a kid and how I felt he never fought for us or even try to be a regular presence in our life.
“What do you mean I wasn’t there? I’ve always been around and you always know where to find me.” This nigga actually looked shocked and hurt.
But I doubled down. I told him that he wasn’t there. I never saw him regularly and there was some times where I didn’t see him for years. He never put forth an effort to see me or my brother regularly. He never put forth an effort to give us guidance and lead us on a regular basis. Never. But what he did managed to do was have two more children by two more women other than my mother. I brought this to his attention and he still smell that smile, never losing his cool, and also double down on the fact that he was “around”. The more we spoke, the more circular the conversation became, and the more I felt myself losing my Virgo cool. He was a lost cause.
We were a lost cause.
I abruptly stood up, wished him a good day, and what the fuck on about my business. I didn’t desire to speak to him and I didn’t desire him to speak to me. He was delusional and I didn’t have time for that. He wasn’t gonna charm me like he charmed other women. He had met his match because I wasn’t gonna bow down to him. If he wasn’t going to acknowledge the pain he caused me, he didn’t need to acknowledge me as his daughter.
I shipped off to the army and went on with my life. I kept my distance from him and made it clear that I preferred it this way. This went on for five years.
Then at 22, I got pregnant with Kingston.
I was very emotional during my pregnancy and I hated it. Like I seriously hated it. I didn’t like not having control over my emotions. I didn’t like giving a fuck about shit that I normally wouldn’t give a fuck about. My father found out I was pregnant and he was very happy for me and my then husband. He checked in on me and I would visit him whenever I came up to Washington DC from my home in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. At this point my father was estranged from all of his children. All of 8 of his children. All of us except the younger two were adults and now had full autonomy over our lives and schedules. We no longer had our mothers facilitating visitation or agreeing to allow our dads to pop in our lives. It seems once everyone reached adulthood, like me, they left him alone.
There was something about being pregnant with Kingston that made me want to put my feelings about my father to the side and allow my son to have an experience with his grandfather. My father’s father passed away when I was five years old and my mother’s father passed away when she was a young girl. I want it better for my son. I wanted to give him better. Looking back, I honestly think that it was really my inner child yearning to give my dad another chance.
Whatever it was, it was the best decision I made.
My father was amazing with my son. Absolutely amazing. From the beginning. They had such an awesome connection and Kingston adored him. Being that Kingston’s father and paternal grandfather are nonexistent, it made their bond stronger. My father made himself available for Kingston. He cleared his schedule to spend time with Kingston. He called to regularly check up on Kingston. It was like Kingston was his redemption and his route of apology to me. They were both thick as thieves. He really stepped up as the father figure for Kingston. He always had gifts for Kingston. Always had pocket money for Kingston. Especially collectors silver. He loved cooking for Kingston and showing him off to his friends. When we move back to the DC area for good when Kingston was eight years old, their bond was even tighter. They were inseparable. Totally inseparable. So much that I found myself a little envious. Not envious of my child but more so “you had this in you all this time? Why couldn’t you be like this with me?”
More importantly, I noticed that my father was very proud of my relationship with Kingston. During one of our last conversations together, my father confided in me how much he was affected by his own mother not nurturing and loving him. I always wondered why my father and his siblings called their mother by her first name and had a very sterile relationship with her. In this conversation with my dad, he went in depth about just how estranged she was from them growing up and how she never fully stepped into her role as his mother. For the first time my father was in his usual chipper and charming self. For the first time I couldn’t hear and feel the smile in my father’s voice. For the first time, I saw him as his wounded inner child.
Now that I was older, educated in psychology, and aware; I was able to humanize my father. I was able to take off his armor of what I wanted him to be, and see him for who he really was. I understood why he had such difficulty in his relationships with women..and even his substance abuse. I began to see all the barriers he faced when it came to honoring his own fatherhood. Especially as it related to what he could give me and what he could not. I also realized why his relationship was so near and dear to his heart.
Kingston allowed him to pull back the years and delve back into his childhood. Also, Kingston loved him unconditionally and was naïve and pure to his actions and decisions as an adult. This made Kingston his safe place in a way. It also made sense why he would always smile so big whenever he saw me interacting with Kingston. He was able to feel a mothers love through me and my son. Although he never said it, he was trying to make it up to me by being a model citizen and my support system for Kingston. Although I never said it, I was so grateful for the new lease on our connection and secretly treasured it. It also helped to heal my inner child.
Giving birth to a son made me more responsible for the way I viewed men and accountable for the company I kept. I wanted to give my son the most healthiest childhood with the most healthiest mother so that meant I had to combat my unhealthy outlook on men. I never wanted my son to grow up hearing about men not being shit. I never wanted my son to growing seeing me prance around men who actually weren’t shit. I never wanted my son to grow up being mishandled, mistreated, abandoned, or feeling unloved. I didn’t want that for him at all so I realized I had to heal…and did.
My son was the first male who gave me unconditional love. In his eyes, I could do no wrong. In his eyes, there was always loyalty for me and a place where I could be myself. Whenever I hear men say that it took them having a daughter to really understand the preciousness and beauty of women, I understand. I had the same transition with having my son. Kingston humanized men for me by showing me the purity of boyhood and how men began as precious little boys who grew up to be victims of circumstances and fucked up experiences that spilled over into their adulthood. Kingston also humanized men by showing me that boys need to be handled just as warmly and protected as little girls are.
I buried my father on my son’s 13th birthday. Kingston couldn’t bring himself to come to the funeral and stayed home. He was broken up. That was his father figure in the male role model in his life from the beginning. Six months earlier, my father’s mother passed away. The one thing that always pained my father about me was my refusal to engage with his side of the family. Now that I was successful and had made some thing of myself, everybody wanted to hang like a charm on my fucking necklace –and I wasn’t with that shit.
His mother had been the most vocal when it came to mistreatment and disrespect to me, my brother, and my mother. Oh she straight shitted on us and openly preferred my father’s later children over me and my brother. Because my mother is bipolar, she wrote me and my brother off as being lost causes, prophesied we wouldn’t amount to shit, and told my father to keep us away from her. I never understood why she wanted to renege on that request. I always honored it and kept my ass the fuck away from her. I was very clear from the beginning when I reconnected with my father that the reconnection wasn’t inclusive of any Plus Ones. I never had any interest with his people who never had any interest for me and my brother growing up. I’m sorry, it’s just a Virgo in me.
When she was diagnosed with dementia and my father called himself tugging at my heart strings about the importance of visiting her, I looked that man dead in his eyes and said: “Absolutely not. She’s been acting like she don’t know who I am all this time. She should be relieved that she no longer has to”.
He didn’t like that shit. But he had no choice to respect it because I wasn’t budging. I will still my mother’s daughter, the mother that she said held so much malice for…so what exactly is the change of heart for. Girl bye.
Anyhoo, a few days after her death, my father and I got into an argument when he tried to excuse his mother’s treatment of my own mother and asked if I could see “where she was coming from” so I could forgive her. THEN come to find out he was sneaking and taking Kingston to see her at the nursing home unbeknownst to me.
We got into it. Bad. It was really bad. Everything that I have been feeling and everything that I never told him about himself came out that night. I didn’t mince words. I didn’t bite my tongue. It was showtime at the motherfucking Apollo. I gathered my son and we headed on out. I pulled out my phone and blocked my father’s number on the way to my car. I was upset that he disrespected my boundary when it came to his mother-especially at my son’s expense. I was upset that he was trying to shit on my own mother when she wasn’t there to defend himself. I was upset that his raggedy ass never took accountability for shit. I was done. I was no longer going to be the only child of his that fucked with him. His luck had finally ran out with me.
I never spoke to my father again. Six months later he was dead. His girlfriend told me that the death of his mother coupled with me cutting him off and taking Kingston with me was a lot for him. So much that he relapsed. He felt hopeless and wanted to escape. In the end, his mother wound had consumed him, but first it damaged his children first.
Since my father’s death, I’ve stepped up even more when it comes to showing up for Kingston. I give him even more love. I give him even more attention. I give him even more Me. I give him all of the things my father longed for. I gave him all the things that I longed for. I give my father ancestral healing. Most importantly I give my bloodline a generational curse breaker.
Sometimes I get sad that I wasn’t able to show up for my father and put aside my feelings for his mother to honor his mother wound. Sometimes I feel bad for abruptly cutting him off. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t been so nonchalant and indifferent about his desire to pull me closer. Although deserved, it was a lot for him to manage.
But then I think about how I show up for my father by showing up for my son. I couldn’t imagine raising my son the way my father’s mother raised him-and his brothers. I couldn’t imagine my son dying over his broken heart that resulted in my negligence. My motherhood journey heals my bloodline, honors my father, and breaks generational curses. I love that for my dad. I love that for my son. I love that for me..especially little me.
Restoring two broken inner children by nurturing and protecting another has been a beautiful journey. I don’t know if I would have been able to achieve this and experience this if I had never became a mother. Most likely, I would have stayed away and kept my distance. Shout out to Kingston.
P.S. I really miss my dad…real bad 😔