Not Like Fathers

You Are Halves of Our Whole

To you, the fathers… It is often hard, I assume, to stand in the shadows of mothers as they take the glory of it all, and in most cases, rightfully so, but you… you wait patiently with no other means of celebration other than the one day designated where you may receive a few hugs, some decent gifts, a day out to your favorite restaurant, then time well-spent in your recliner. This is for you. Those yet still fathering, still yearning to love as they look at eyes that look back at them — identical in shape and color.

To you, fathers who stand beside their children, fighting for their rights in all things life-oriented, ensuring safety and love. To you, those of you afraid to reach out to take the hands of yours who have soared too high in the sky for you to be able to reach them and bring them back down to Earth. Fathers of prodigal sons and daughter still counting the days of their return; I offer you recognition and sincere adoration.

You are the halves of our whole and without you, there could be no us. Those of you trying harder than anyone can imagine and more than anyone can see, I tip my hat to you. Those of you struggling to make ends meet, constantly arguing with your children’s mother for the sake of their best interests— I hear you, I see you. To you, the fathers who cry when no one is around and pack in hurt after hurt and pained day after pained day, you are honored.

Fathers, do not let this day go by without attempting to learn, understand, care for, and love the ones who made you fathers. Start now, if you have not. For those of you fatherless and trying to father without the clear knowledge of the act — your children know that you are trying, even if they do not show it.

May this day be one to lift you up if you were feeling down and may love envelop you at every corner. Father is a forever word — a forever action. You will always be it.

From our small community to your hearts,
Happy Father’s Day.


Originally posted as a letter in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

“Our Father, Who Art In…”

I will never claim another

Gift Habeshaw | Unsplash

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. — Ephesians, 6:4, NLT


The way my father looks at me is as if he is looking at the world in every color, tone, measurement, and description all at once. He takes me in — processes me, and tries to understand my words while I am speaking. He hears me. It is a blessed feeling to allow someone to dissect what you are saying when at times, those words have proven difficult to express. Given my father’s background and his marriage to the church as an elder and minister, listening is one of the things he does best. Coming out to my father was not as hard as I envisioned it would be. As a matter of fact, it was quite easy. He knew I had something to share, he had known for years — thus, he pressed forward with opening the door to our conversation about who I, his daughter, was. I touch on this just a bit in “Unconditional.”

Listen to me, baby. You are my child. I don’t care about anything else. I love you for who you are, you hear me? That will never change. Never.”

I could never have selected another man in this world to be half of what makes me whole. It would be pointless and an impossible feat. My father was made just for me at a time when roaming the streets, hanging out with his friends, and catching up on homework should have been the only things on his mind. To be a teenager, trying to bring a female mini-version of himself up in a crazy world, I am sure, was the last thing he wanted. But he did it and in his own way. I had enough years with my father in our home to know what I should know about life and understand what I should about right versus wrong.

You can come to me. I hope you’ll always remember that. I love you.”

He fathered the way he knew how. He stumbled. He struggled. He made a ton of mistakes. But one thing he did not fail at doing is loving me. It took me nearly fourteen years after my parents’ divorce to realize that fact. Today, I can call my father up and we can chit-chat about whatever, like whatever is the best thing since jelly on toastWe can hoot, holler, boast, brag, and commend each other freely without that awkward silence that used to layer itself around us.

I no longer have to wonder what my dad will say or do about his oldest daughter being bisexual. I no longer have to shelter, hide, or deny myself happiness thinking I will be shunned from the spirit of the messenger. After all, I am his child.”

I am grateful for a father who openly loves me and dotes on me around his peers regardless of how many of them misinterpret the Bible. He has not struck me down — with words nor his fists. He tries to guide me in his own way and sometimes it may come off a bit preachy (that’s a given), he notices the coldness before I can even utter a word and simplifies and coats his words with love so as to not break my heart. There were years when I did not mention him, would not mention him. He was there, but not there. Not to me. Divorce can cloud a teenager’s mind and when step-parents are introduced, it can do even more.

I think back now to many of the hurtful things I said — how I allowed myself to let my tongue walk all over him without apologizing for my crassness. My father, knowing who I was at my core, gave me the space to vent and be free with my words in my growing up years without causing me to shrink. One thing he would say often was, “When you are older, you will know all that I did for you, how hard I tried.” I did not recognize the importance of that then. Oh, but I do now.

I am equal parts Michael and equal parts Angela and with the two of them buried deep inside my veins, I am one person. I finally understand why I ached for so many years when I thought of, interacted with, and tried to hold on to a bond with my father — stubbornness. The older I get, the better I am becoming at understanding who he is simply because he has always tried to understand who I am. My eyes are no longer closed.


To my father, who never has to change . . . thank you for everything past, present, and whatever there is to come. I will never claim another.


Originally published in Our Human Family via Medium.

Second Best, But First Born

Tre: high school days.

I think about how crazy my upbringing was sometimes and there are bits and pieces that stir me up in ways that I cannot clearly understand or explain. 

I am a child of divorce. 

A further description: I am the eldest child from a divorced parents home who remembers so much more than her siblings and who has a lot more good memories of her Father to hold on to than her siblings as well, except her youngest, which is her sister. 

To be frank, I am head over heels about my kid sister. There is nothing (within my power) that I would not do for her. Being nineteen years older than someone gives you such a distinct perspective on life when there’s a need to share experiences and my kid sister comes loaded with questions. She’s an intensely intelligent young lady and I am not surprised by this. Often the saying in our family to her is, “You are so much like Tre.” Or different variations of that phrase and I want to shout to everyone telling her this to stop!

While I’m appreciative of their comparison, I see the dismay and feel the worry from my sister as she struggles to make a name for herself. I am so proud of her. I do not know what it feels like to have a Father raise his daughter beyond twelve years. That connection has to be an intense one and my sister has that. She has had our Father since her birth and at the age of nineteen, he is still very involved in her life. My Father and I only recently began renewing a bond that fell from its pedestal when I was still in grade school and it is awkward, but we are both growing within this process. 

Tre: College Graduation Day.

Last year, my sister entered a University in close proximity to Atlanta, GA. The kid has a full ride, Presidential Scholarship and is excelling in every way possible. Again, I am not surprised. From the moment she began speaking, I could tell that she was going to press on in life in a way that could be considered unstoppable. I did not/ do not worry about her. Not in that realm. I had/have other concerns about her growth, like first heartbreak and how will she heal from that? But, those bridges have not yet formed, so we cannot cross them. 

What sparked this post? Our Father’s worry over her entering school for a higher education four hours away from them. Not within his immediate reach. My kid sister was sheltered. Someone’s eyes was always on her. I grew up quite independent and left for college at eighteen, worked full time, and never returned home. I have been out of school for fifteen years, however, last year, when my sister was beginning to make her path into an unknown world, my Father called me up frantic and nearly in tears. 

My cousin Chrissy & I. I’m the little one with the thick plaits.

“Tre! Hey. Hey.  Can I talk to you? Will you tell me about your college experience?” The question came as an instant gut-punch to me. I thought, “Now, you wanna know about my college experience?! You mean, the one you had no hand in, the one I struggled with, the one in which I worked full time and had classes full time, busted my face too many times to count regarding love because I had no MALE figure to point me in the right direction, the college experience that left me with debt after a lost scholarship?! THAT COLLEGE EXPERIENCE!” I thought these things, but I did not say them. I am good at pushing my feelings to the side in order to cater to someone else’s and I could tell my Father was hurting. The one child he truly raised was beginning to leave the nest. It wasn’t a time for me to break fool on him. 

But, I did so after our phone call. I cried.  I thought about the many years I spent time giving myself to boys, men, girls, women, searching for that love I did not have from my Father, and I just broke down. I screamed. I shouted. And then, I thought about something my Father said before we ended the call and it helped me put things into a better perspective. “You were always so independent. You did everything fast; walked, talked, learned, and became an adult before your time. I did not have to worry about you. You had it altogether. I worry about your sister. She’s not like you in that aspect, baby. ” 

Tre: Christmas of ’82.

I knew what he was trying to say, but it didn’t make me feel any more loved. It actually made me feel like he had an idea of who I was but did not know I had to be who I was because of what I did not have, a Father. Parents do not know what they do to their children unless they’re told. They do not see us when our pain is most visible. In that moment of my breakdown, I felt second best. I felt as though my life was no longer a concern, I am grown, there’s nothing more to my growth that can be watered on me to help me grow even stronger, and I did not like that feeling. 

I have yet to tell my Father how his asking about my educational life so many years after it has taken place makes me feel and I doubt that I will. When you have voiced your opinion on so many things with one person and you get reactions that are often wrought with accusations and finger-pointing, you learn to just be quiet and accept it for what it is. It is a part of life that keeps me on my toes. Truthfully, I have to be. 

There will come a day when my sister will ask me of my college experience and I will tell her all that she wants to know. But, that day isn’t here yet. But, I will be ready when it arrives. 

Tithes & Offerings

Finding Peace With My Father

woman
Courtesy of Pinterest

I am not searching
For my kin
Men give me hives
And women drive me crazy

You wanted me
Settled by now —
Baby hipped, bare feet
No cause for
Questions

But, I am full of
Questions
All needing answers.
I hold back.
Every year, I chicken out.
Clucked by the best, my
Demons fester and you
Pop up when I
Am trying to understand
Where to go from here.

The path I have taken
Only leads me to
The same circle I have
Met for 25 years,
Incomplete.
I step out of the circle,
Refusing its enclosure,
I draw a line.

You cannot cross it.

My heart blocks
The pain of a
Lost child begging to
Be understood, wanting
To be heard in the
Noisy body of
Cheerful congregations.
They pass
Our family secrets around
In the collection plate.

One drops a 20.
He needs change.
He knows our story
From front to back,
I do not sit next to him.
Each secret floats, heavy
Like coins, clinging
To musty bills,

Testimonies are next.

You say, “I have a confession
To make. I love my children.
I would die without them.
I could die without them.
Nothing has changed.”
You are happy.
Beaming, proud Daddy
Wishing to knee-us-up
And bounce us until
We lose ourselves.

I see your happiness.
I reach into my clutch
As the plate comes around,
Pull out a smile
And I tell my neighbor,
“Pass it along.”


Originally published on June 18, 2017, via Medium. Happy Father’s Day!