♣ Ever Had a Question That You Were Scared To Have Answered? ♣
It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father.
— Pope John XXIII
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — As my 30th birthday rapidly approaches (September 5 is just 2½ weeks away), I have been very reflective about my life, my goals, my accomplishments, failures, and regrets. And while I didn’t think so when I was a teenager, I am certainly happy to have been raised by who I humbly consider the two best parents on the planet. Being raised by the combination of a teacher mom and a police officer dad in Detroit did wonders for me. I can modestly say I got my sensitivity, compassion, reasoning, and stubborness from my mom. My penchant for being a smart-ass, love for good music of any genre, appreciation for discipline, hard work, and importance of being a man come from my dad. They both have taught me to learn from the mistakes and failures of others, and wanted me to embrace my intelligence. I owe them everything. However, as most of my closer friends already know. The man I call my dad, is actually my stepfather, and that’s where the story begins.
I consider myself pretty fortunate that I am approaching 30 and I have no children. I have often said that I never want to put my kids in a position where they had to go through a stretch of their formative years without me. I absolutely detest the term “Baby’s Daddy” and everything that’s associated with it. For the life of me, I can’t understand how a man can willfully not want to be apart of their children’s lives. I am not talking about the men who want to be fathers, but are being kept from doing so, nor do I mean the fathers who are in their kid’s lives but are not with the mom. I’m talking about the dudes who either fathered a child out of wedlock and bounced, or the guys who were married, fathered a child, then bailed as soon they divorced. I am an example of the latter.
The modern deadbeat dad generally is seen as a young man, often in his early 20s to mid 30s, and generally black. My biological father, a man who shall remain nameless and will not be referred to by the word “father” again, was almost 40 years old when he left my mother in 1981 after 4 years of marriage. I have had next to no contact with the man since then. No phone calls. No letters. No birthday cards. No e-mails. No text messages. No visits. He essentially wanted nothing to do with me. I was his first child. And if you wonder why I’m not more angry or jaded about the whole thing, that’s because my mom re-married in 1983, and I never missed out on having a father in my life. For that I am very fortunate and very grateful. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a few questions.
For her part, my mother never really bad-mouthed him to me. She would have isolated moments of anger and frustration, but there was never a full-on “That nigga ain’t shit” rant about him to me or really anyone else. She basically let his actions, or inaction, speak for itself. And while that was cool, and took the edge off the situation, it didn’t really fix that hole. It just threw some soft sand and a rug over it. I still never got a lot of answers to who this man is. I just gathered from what has been said that dude was a pretty shitty individual.
Remember, I wasn’t even two years old when he left, so I know very little about the man and I have never had a legit conversation with him. This much I do know: After he bailed on us in 1981, He was on the run for 12 years and didn’t pay child support in spite of having jobs that paid upwards of $80K a year. He claimed to have a degree from Michigan State (He doesn’t, but I do! Ah, the irony!). He was pulled over in Lansing in 1993, dragged back to Detroit, and dropped in jail for the 12 years of back child support. He paid a third of it to get his ass out of jail, then ran again before Friend of the Court could collect the rest. He disappeared until being caught in Houston in late 2005 (Apparently, he didn’t realize that of all the states to run to, being a deadbeat dad in Texas is not the best idea). He was hauled back into Detroit, where he paid half of the back support he owed, and memo to you deadbeats reading this, just because the kid hits 18, doesn’t mean you’re off the hook (I was 26 at the time). He said in a court hearing that “there was no way in hell that woman (my mom) would get any of his ‘hard earned money’!” Upon hearing this, I was on the first thing smoking out of Lansing, back to Detroit, and immediately in his face. He didn’t say a single word to me, and I will not repeat what I said to him on here. Just know that it wasn’t a very friendly conversation, and we didn’t hug it out at the end.
I have now reached a point in my life where I have shed what bitterness I had toward the man and just want get some real questions answered. I know nothing of his side of the family or his upbringing. I also know nothing of his medical history, or his family’s issues. I don’t know if he had any other kids (he likely did). Plus, I want to know if any of his behaviors have rubbed off on me. I know that while I don’t immediately see them, my mom notices facial expressions and mannerisms that are distinctly his, in spite of the fact that I look almost exactly like her.
And let’s not get this twisted, I don’t want to spark any sort of substantive relationship with this man, who by now is in his mid 60s. That train left the station at least 15, maybe 20 years ago. But I need to know why he left. If he had any other kids and did anything for them, why was I the odd man out? Why did he continue to run? And likely a myriad of other personal questions that I will not disclose here. Part of me wants to search out this guy (he’s still in Texas), and ask these questions and the other half of me wants no part of him. Looking at my life so far, I essentially defied the odds. I am 29. I have no children. I have a Bachelor’s Degree, and I’m on my way to completing my Master’s Degree. I have no criminal record. I didn’t turn to drugs or gangs. I basically made it happen. But I need to know why the man who went half on this batch of brilliance named Jason Smith, didn’t even want to stick around to admire his handy work. One way or another, it worked out.
And as a final word to the deadbeats and the “Baby Daddies” out there, while I can’t tell you how to raise a child from a father’s perspective, I can tell you from the perspective of the child that was left behind that what you are doing is NOT cool! Be a father to your damn child because you never know what impact you can have on the kid. Well, either that, or just don’t father any kids at all. Pretty straightforward! The impact you can have by not being there is far worse than you being there. And to the single and divorced moms out here, I know you like to think you can do it alone and you can be daddy and you deserve gifts on Father’s Day (which you don’t, so quit milking it), however, there are certain things that you CAN’T do for your child that a father can. If that man wants to be there, then let him be there. Your feelings about that man are irrelevant when it comes to raising that child. If he chooses to be an absent and cowardly dad, then let his actions speak louder than any words you say ever could. I know damn well that my biological has spent the last 28 years screaming at me with a damn bullhorn.
Thank You For Your Time. Take Care, God Bless, Always Dare To Be Different and G.O.M.A.B.
Until Next Time…Man Up! Σ