My First Go At Fatherhood
According to the British Oxford Dictionary, the noun father is "a man in relation to his child or children". What I want to focus on is the word man or "adult human male" according to Oxford. I have always questioned if it was appropriate to label someone as a father when he barely is an adolescent. How can a boy who could barely control his emotions understand the gravity of fatherhood? Society's answer was simple; if you were old enough to have sex, you are old enough to be a father. This idea has permeated every nation, regardless of race, culture, or religion. I have never agreed with this idea and still do not agree with it today. Just because your biological processes and external influences exposed you to sex do not mean you are capable or ready to deal with the responsibilities that can follow.
I believe this to be true even for some adult males of our species. That topic is for another day. I distinctly recall the day I found out I was going to be a father at 16. I was not worried nor was I happy about it. In fact, I expressed no emotion one way or the other to the news. This news was just another wrong decision that I was going to be yelled at for, and it would go away after a few months. I was comforted by the idea that my aunt was going to make everything better. I went on living my life as a teenager without a care in the world. Apparently, I was no one's father. How could I be when I had never seen this child in people's whispers? If the woman who raised me could not accept it, why should I? So I never told a soul about my son till I turned 21.
It was one hot summer day in Augusta, Georgia (every day basically) and I was having a conversation with a close friend about losing my father and aunt in the same week a few months prior. I was telling her how I wish I knew my dad well. Of course, I complained about my mother leaving me in Sierra Leone for another woman to raise me and how that affected me throughout my childhood into my young adult life. As I spoke, I started envisioning my estranged son telling a young woman his life story at 21. How his father never acknowledged him and the animosity he has towards the old man. I did not immediately say anything to my friend. I waited till I was in the safety of my apartment, that is when I sent her a message along the lines of "hey, I really like you and do see a future for us but I have to let you know that I have a child. I am sorry for breaking it this way". At age 21, on the cusp of what I believed to be the end of a relationship that had not even begun, I made my first go at fatherhood.
The conversation after that initial text was not what I expected. It went a lot better than I thought it would. After that day, I called up my mum and spoke to her about my decision. I am glad to say that over a decade after that day, I am still building a father-son relationship with my firstborn. It has been fascinating over the years. Last year, he joined us in the States, and it has been quite an experience. I will be sharing the journey with you guys obviously. Some of this will be in my upcoming podcast so keep an eye out for it.