Now, I’m Dad
Commentary, Sean Shavers | Richmond Pulse
In my childhood years, I was fortunate to have my own father at home. There was a bond, a special connection that only we felt. When I was eleven years old, my mother and father separated, which resulted in a nasty custody battle. Long story short, my father ended up resenting me because he had to pay child support. Thus I never saw or dealt with him again. When that connection was lost, I felt empty and longed for that bond again. Some days I wondered if it would ever feel that connection again. Would we ever chase each other, ruff-house around the living room, watch Monday night football, and eat tacos in the garage? As I grew older, the absence of my dad bothered me less and less until eventually, it didn’t bother me at all.
Oftentimes in the black community, we learn to not value our fathers because they’re usually not around. As a person who experienced that firsthand, I knew I didn’t want to repeat the stereotype. But it wasn’t until I actually became a father, one month ago, that I realized just how important it is for me to be around and stay around.
From the moment I first saw my son, I knew I had to step it up — I had to become a man for him. What I lack, I have to build up. The dreams I had for myself, I now have for him: I didn’t experience going to prom, but I can now support him going to his. I didn’t attend my high school graduation ceremony, but now I can be there to see him walk across the stage. I never finished college, but I can now motivate him to go and to stick with it. I basically just want to give him all the support that I didn’t get from my own father. It’s going to be a process, but I know that if I push forward, my son will follow.
He’s only a month old but he’s learning every day. He responds to my voice and calms down when I hold him. Every time I look at him, I see a reflection of me, and I wonder if that’s what all fathers see. For me, there’s no greater joy. The bond we share is something you could never share with another human being. To know that I gave him life, and can teach him right from wrong and raise him up in my image, feels almost supernatural.
Since my son has been here I’ve gained patience, through learning how to deal with a screaming baby will teach anyone patience. I’ve gained understanding, knowing that all the mother’s attention is on that baby and that sometimes, she won’t have any for you. I’ve learned to be more responsible, taking my son to his appointments and keeping up with the dates. I’ve become better at sharing, learning to give even when you may not want to. And above all else I’ve learned to be selfless, to care for someone else just like I would care for myself. My son has helped me become a man and a wiser adult. I value my life a lot more now — I can’t get into trouble because I have someone watching and depending on me every day. I think way more about my actions now, just to make sure I’m doing the right thing for the both of us.
I know my father is gone and probably never coming back — and that’s fine because all the hurt I felt from not having him around is gone now, and that space has been filled by the love I feel for my own child.