My mum had me when she was 18, for a married, older guy. He accepted responsibility and assured he will make sure we were well taken care of. Between him and my mum, they decided marriage was out of the question.
I grew up with my grandparents, my mum and her sister. I called my mum “Aunty” till I was about 8 or so. When it was time for school fees, my mum called my dad to remind him. He paid my school fees when he was asked. Sent me money when he was asked. He was my bank, not my father.
I know in his own mind he may have seen it as being responsible, but I can say this with all jurisdiction. I would have preferred a poor father who was a constant presence in my life, than the one who sent money when he was asked and came around for a few minutes every month.
My grandpa died when I was 14, my grandma had stopped working and my mum was on a struggle road. Trying to balance a career and a teenage boy, as well as other responsibilities. She always looked stressed and fed up. The only thing my mum ever called my father to ask for was money for my school fees. Every other thing she did herself. I never appreciated that.
I stayed away from home. I was a boy, I didn’t have any father figure, I preferred being in my friends’ homes. I needed male attention. In my thirst for friendship I got up to horrible things. I can’t remember how many times my mum had to bail me out of jail for vandalism and the likes or dragged me physically from shitta where I was smoking weed. I sold the little jewelry she had to throw parties for friends that weren’t really friends.
When I needed money I called my father. Or went to visit him unannounced in his home. His wife couldn’t stand me. So if he wasn’t home, she gave me money just to be rid of me.
I wanted to make money. Money to do what I didn’t know. I just wanted money. I tried “yahoo-yahoo”, I wasn’t successful. I almost carried drugs, but someone slyed me and took my place (thank God). I compared myself to my father’s kids. They had everything I didn’t. They went to the best schools, had both parents that were in love. My mum put me in any one that was convenient for her. If she switched jobs I switched schools too because of proximity. I can’t count how many times I couldn’t go to school because there was nobody to come and get me. I had to wear the same old clothes for years because she never noticed I outgrew them.
I met uncle Fola during one of my shitta trysts. He almost hit me with his car while I was running during a police bust. To cut a very long story short, he became my mentor (and eventually step father :D). He taught me a lot. He spoke to me like I was his bestfriend, son and brother. He was over 40. He saw something in me that nobody else did. He made me see that my mum not having my time wasn’t because she didn’t love me, but because she loved me and didn’t want me to suffer or have to grovel for everything from my dad. She is a proud and strong woman.
I picked up an interest in photography 3years ago, and my life has never been the same. Got a loan from uncle Fola, bought my first camera and I have been doing pretty good for myself if I must say :)
A few months ago I asked my mum why she didn’t marry my dad when she found out she was pregnant. She said manipulating people to be with you, worming your way into people’s lives will only hurt you further down the road. The uneasiness she felt back then and the embarrassment she suffered is small compared to what she would have faced if she had insisted on marrying into the home of someone who didn’t love her and already had a wife and kids. If he had wanted to marry her, he would have asked, but he never did and they all moved on.
She waited for the man who accepted her kid and she met him through me. She was skeptical of Fola at first, wondering about his sudden interest in us, but she warmed up soon enough and accepted the fact that God doesn’t come down himself to help people. He sends help. And uncle Fola was our help. She’s happy now, she glows and I have two pretty twin sisters to show for it. Things certainly happen for a reason.
Apparently, the other day, my dad called my mum gushing about how he had seen my photos in a magazine and how proud he was to be “my father”. I went into my room and called him, then I said “So I hear you are calling yourself a father…asides a handfull of receipts and giving me your name, what makes you one?”
He started out by accusing my mum of turning me against him and etc. I just laughed and said he should be thankful my mum is the kind of person she is. She never said anything bad about him to me. I know he paid for a few things occasionally if she asked, but he didn’t raise me. He had nothing to be proud of. If I had turned out to be an armed robber, he wouldn’t have had anything to be ashamed of either.
I STILL don’t know how to ride a bike. Many times I played outside alone while my mum worked. Kicking my ball and trying to amuse myself. Where was my “father” then? As a dude, things happened during puberty that I couldn’t tell my mum about. And a stranger who came around once or twice every couple of months wasn’t father enough for me to confide in. He didn’t know the things I liked to eat, my fears, my allergies, the things that made me laugh or cry. He didn’t know the subjects I was good at. He didn’t know the mischief and good deeds I got up to.
I never lived with him. The stage of a boy’s life when he needs his father the most passed by me unattended to. He never voluntarily called my mum to ask how I was or if we needed anything. He waited for our call or request. My proud mother, even when we were literally starving, she never asked him for help. I didn’t know why, but I appreciate it now. He has no right to call himself my father or be proud of me. He may be father to everyone else, but he definitely wasn’t mine. He didn’t raise me.
How we turn out is mostly based on what circumstances we are raised in. Especially boys, because it’s harder for us to make money and meet up with the needs of peer pressure and the people we stay trying to impress. We have the tendency to make or marr the world. Having “daddy issues” is no excuse to become nuisances. Not dealing with our “daddy issues” is where the real problem is.