♣ The Toughest Jobs are often the most Thankless…♣
“There’s so much negative imagery of black fatherhood. I’ve got tons of friends that are doing the right thing by their kids, and doing the right thing as a father — and how come that’s not as newsworthy?”
— Will Smith (No Relation…sadly)
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — It’s a warm and quiet early summer evening on the northwest side of Detroit. It’s the rare quiet and peaceful neighborhood in the city where people sit on their porches and in their backyards and can relax and just watch the day wind down. On a red bricked porch on the middle house on the block sits a man in his late 40s, his teenaged son, and a dog (a Cocker Spaniel, to be exact). As they sit side-by-side on the porch, each with a can of Faygo Orange in hand, nary a word is said until a rather disheveled looking gentleman, reeking of Jack Daniel’s and shame, walks down the street and asks to cut his grass for some money. The man quickly says “that’s what I’ve got him (points to the teen) for.” As the smelly gentleman heads up the street, the man calmly looks at the Teen and says: “Jason, remember this: Crackheads are like stray cats. You feed them and their ass is never gonna leave you alone.” Words of wisdom from my Dad. Let’s Go.
My dad and I shared many a summer evening on that porch on Artesian & Schoolcraft. We would talk about life, food, TV shows, women, more food, yard work, school, and music. My mom would rarely join us out there. It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I realized that was her way of letting the men-folk bond (Comet, the aforementioned dog, would normally just sit on the bottom step by my feet and occasionally bark at passing crackies). The story of my dad is a bit of a microcosm of fatherhood. You see my dad is a retired Detroit Police officer. He worked for DPD for over 30 years. If there were ever a more thankless job, it would be that of a Detroit Police Officer. Being a dad, especially a Black one, may be the most thankless gig on the planet. Being in the position my dad was in, could’ve been far more difficult. You see, my father is technically my stepfather. I have never called him that once, and never will. The man has done more for me than anyone aside from my Mother.
I have previously mentioned this, but a quick reset, my biological father (the only time that F word will be associated with him), abruptly left my mother and I in early 1981. I have only seen the man twice since then. Neither occasion was pleasant. My mother remarried in 1983. Since I was too young to have any recollection of the biological, I never once thought about him as my dad. My mother helped this by not badmouthing him, or even making much mention of him in general (Message to the Single Moms: Showing some class can go a LONG way). My mother was always open to my biological having a relationship with me, but he chose to disappear. So I grew up knowing Robert Smith as my father, and I can’t say that was too bad of a deal at all. The man taught me how to fight, how to deal with tough times, how to hook up stereo and video equipment, how to deal with bullies, how a man’s only as good as his word, and how you’re not gonna accomplish anything in life w/out HARD WORK. As much as I love my Mother, those are things that she couldn’t have taught me, and has admitted as much.
The reason I’m writing this blog today, as much as I didn’t even want to waste time on this subject matter, is that I have grown very tired of Fathers and Father’s Day being shit on like a gigantic lawn. The primary offenders: Bitter Single Mothers. At some point in the last 10 years, there seems to be this movement (more like a bowel movement) for single mothers to insist that they be “Recognized” on Father’s Day. You see it all over Facebook, Twitter, and everywhere else:
“Happy Father’s Days to all the Real Dads and to the Single Moms doing Both Jobs“
“Happy Father’s Day to all the Single Mothers who have shown that you don’t need to have a Penis to be a father!” (or something to that effect).
I find this equal parts offensive and insulting. First and foremost, You never hear shit like this said on Mother’s Day. EVER. Imagine how many panties would (rightfully) be in a bunch if some jack ass Single Father said:
“Happy Mother’s Day to all the Dads holding it down playing both roles! You don’t need a vagina to be a mom!”
You see how ridiculous that looks. The next man to say some bullshit like that will be the First. Just imagine how that looks to a man who busts his ass everyday for his kids. Imagine the arrogance that shows. I have had an issue for years with Single Moms and their sense of entitlement. As if being a single mother makes you any better, stronger, more resilient, or tougher than my Mother, married for 27 years, or any other woman who is married with kids. As if you’re any better than the single mom who does get support from the father of her child. A few years ago when Fantasia said in one of her songs (the name escapes me) that she “wishes there was a day for single mothers trying to make a way,” I remember screaming in the studio “They already have one. It’s called MOTHER’S DAY! You ain’t special!” And don’t even get me started on the qualifier of “Real Dads” and “Dudes who take care of their business” that you like to throw in there. We don’t throw that qualifier in there on Mother’s Day, and there are scads of shitty moms all over the country. Father’s Day is for FATHERS. It is assumed that we mean the good ones, and even some of the average ones! All Dads apply just like all moms, even the shitty ones, apply in May. But Single Moms, Father’s Day is not your day. Deal with it.
This notion that being a Single Mom is something special and deserving of extra recognition is ludicrous. It asserts that women who are married or in a long-term relationship have it easy. They don’t. In fact, not only do they have to deal with raising a child, they still have to maintain a job, bills, a house, and (oh, by the way) a MARRIAGE! If you think being married for 27 years is easy, then I’m gonna need you to split an atom for me. I remember being made fun of by kids who were in a single-parent household. They used to call me stuck up, and “soft”, and a “punk” because I had a dad. Just for the record, these were all black kids. The absurdity of this Single Moms deserve “recognition” thing is amazing. Couple that with the other major problem I have is this notion that being a Single Mom makes you both a Mother and a Father. That, my friends, is categorically FALSE.
For those of you who think that being a father is easy work, try teaching your son how to play baseball or basketball or football. Try teaching that kid what it is like to stare down and fight a bully. Try having burping or farting contests. Try teaching that kid how to approach and respect women as well as other men. Try teaching him how to ride a bike. Try explaining to that kid why his voice is getting deeper. Try teaching him how to hook up a stereo system w/out blowing out every fuse in your house. Try teaching that kid what being a man is about. You Can’t Do It! Hell, ask any formerly single mother how much of a burden was lifted off her tired shoulders when that man came into her life and took over that open role as a father figure. And I dare you to call that woman weak for surrendering her “independence.” My mother gave me so much, but so did my father.
It was my dad who helped me understand that life ain’t fair. It was my dad who taught me that the only man that you will always be able to trust is yourself. It was my dad who introduced me to what good music is and, in turn, as we’ve gotten older I have broken him into the world of iTunes and given the gift of music back to him as he gave it to me. It was my dad who was at EVERY track meet, many times still in his Police Uniform. It was my dad who taught me the difference between a Strong Black Man and a Nigga. It was my dad who was the first to shake my hand after I walked off that stage after graduating from Renaissance in 1997. It was my dad who told me to “Be better than (Him)” when I grew up. It was my dad that introduced me to a lot of dirty jokes, practical jokes, and 4-letter words that I couldn’t (and still can’t) say in front of my mom. I owe that man a ton, and the older I have gotten, the more I have realized that fact. And I’ll be damned if I let an obnoxious woman with bitterness in her heart and poor decision making skills shit on my dad’s day or any other man that I know who busts his ass everyday to be a father to his child. Those men include: Marvin Rutherford Sr. and Jr., Jason Amison, Kevin Davis, Kevin Cobb, Ken Whittaker, Ken “Blanks” Harrell, Paul Nettles, Keith Walker, Tasherre D’Enajetic, Willie Brake, and anyone else that I might have forgotten. Congrats to all the men who have become dads in the last year as well.
So in closing, Single Moms, I’m not shittin’ on your struggle. Quite the contrary, it must be BRUTAL doing the shit on solo status. But you are not Fathers! Claiming that you are minimizes what Fathers bring to the lives of their kids and what their strengths are as men. You think you can do both, but coming from a man who had both, let me tell you that you can’t do a very good job of it. Shit, Google Maps has an option where you can get walking directions to anywhere on the continent. Yes, You can actually get turn-by-turn-by-turn directions to walk from Detroit to Phoenix. But just because it can be done, doesn’t mean that it should be. So fall back, swallow your bitterness and pride, and let Men have their One Official Day.
Once again, big ups to all the Fathers, Grandfathers, Stepfathers, Uncles, Big Brothers, Big Cousins, and all other Male Father Figures who play a positive role in the lives of kids on the daily. Today is your day and it belongs to YOU. The day I become a Dad will trump anything that has happened to me in life up to this point. That’s as Real As It Gets.
P.S.: To all you other Deadbeats Scared of Being Father Figures, You only get ½ a bar: Fuck Y’all Niggas!
Until Next Time, That’s The Way It Is. Sunday, June 20, 2010.
The 211th day since the Detroit Lions’ Last Victory
Take Care, God Bless, Always Dare to Be Different, and G.O.M.A.B. Σ