Tag Archives: parenthood

Family life, not meant for all? Part 3

Some people are clearly unmoved by children’s sentiments and if you ask me, it’s pretty unwise of a grown up to take offence when a child makes an innocent comment. Dad’s like that. He forgets that it’s commonly said, ‘if someone wants a really genuine answer or opinion on something, they should try picking a child’s mind’. They are honest, because they see the world through pure eyes; their emotions haven’t been coloured by biases yet.

They don’t see colour, or different religions… It’s no wonder Jesus said, that anyone who wants to get to heaven should be like a child. That said, dad didn’t dig deep into his conscience to see where he was erring as a parent. Instead, he felt comfortable telling himself all these years that my small sis was at fault for telling mom we should find a new dad.

There’s also a grudge he harbours against me because years ago, when I was only two years old, I ‘rejected’ him. As it is, my parents had parted ways when I was about six months old. Dad’s mom had been pressuring him to leave mom and find a girl from a wealthy family and somehow he had heeded to his mom’s advice.

For more than a year they were separated, so while I was growing up, I didn’t know dad. Eventually, he decided to get back with mom and when he came for us, I didn’t recognise him. So I ran. That precisely, was what he accuses me off. That I ran away from him, instead of running into his embrace. Now that I have an idea of how dad’s mind works, I try not to let that incident bother me.

When Saturday came, he left. I’m not sure whether he left for his brother’s, or he travelled back to his other house so he could prepare for work. Given that he’d gone back on a Saturday, it wasn’t hard to tell he couldn’t stand our presence.

Midweek, he sent mom some money. He didn’t call though. After assessing the situation, I told mom it would be better if she gave him back the keys; not because he deserved it, but because we should let nature take its course. We have tried our best. As it is, we can’t force him to do anything he doesn’t want to do. If ever he changes for the better, hopefully he will, it will have to come from his heart. In the meantime we’ll just leave everything to God.

Earlier today, mom gave him back the keys. He was ecstatic. He even said he was going to church. He asked me if I needed a lift and I told him I’d already attended mass. He left. However, I wasn’t fully convinced he’d gone to church because the mass he purported to attend was half way through and the other would be starting in an hour’s time. I figured time would tell.

About two hours later, he came back. Mom asked him how mass was and he said he wasn’t from church. I felt disappointed he hadn’t been there but I also appreciated that he didn’t lie about it. Lately he’s become a pathological liar; guess that’s a characteristic of people getting into an advanced stage of drug addiction. His alcohol breath was a clear indication of where he’d been.

Five minutes later, he left again. Turns out he’d only come back for more money. As my big sis was on her way to get some items from some nearby supermarket, he offered to give her a lift and as she had spent the entire night up, working on a client’s research-related report, she just agreed.

While he was driving, he told her he was going to sell the car because he couldn’t use it when he wanted to see his mother. That admission rubbed me off the wrong way. I know, while he’s so fond of his mother, I can’t say the same of us. He treats us like we’re an obstacle; the greatest setback in his life.

A few days ago, I just found myself wondering why God would give an irresponsible man such as him a family to take care of, yet he seems so detached. As a brother and son, he may have been perfect but the way I see it, he just wasn’t cut out for married life. He seems to have picked the wrong vocation because as a husband and father he’s performed so poorly.

The only thing that gives me hope is the fact that God took a chance on him.  So maybe there’s something worth saving in him after all. Only time will tell.

Family life, not meant for all? Part 2

The entire week he didn’t call and he refused to pick up calls. Since he comes home on Fridays, we waited to see how he would handle that sticky situation. Eventually the week ended and as was expected, he called mom to tell her he was coming home and he wanted to find the car keys in their usual place. From what I gathered, he practically barked the order over the phone.

When he got home, he found my small sis and I. We didn’t have classes that day. First thing he did, he asked for the car keys. It didn’t escape my attention that he had alcohol breath on a Friday afternoon, meaning he’d imbibed before making his way home.

We told him we didn’t know where the keys were. Disappointingly, he dialled his brother and I must say I felt ashamed as I watched, and listened to him pouring out his heart to him about how we had hid his keys. According to him, we were colluding with our mother… which wasn’t entirely false. He went on to say some things I would have preferred remained unsaid since those are essentially family ‘secrets’; and all these he did, thinking we would be intimidated into giving him back the keys.

I couldn’t help but wonder, what authority he thought his brother had over us. He’s never come through for us when we’re in dire need of some assistance. Worse still, the last time he visited us while in the company of his mom and siblings, they tried to show mom how bad she was for dad and he (dad) blatantly took their side. Because of that and other unfortunate incidents, I do not feel his authority is binding on us. If at all he has any, it would only be persuasive.

As a daughter, I must admit I felt disappointed and ashamed. Disappointed that my old man was too blind to notice obvious things; that there are issues in our family which need to be addressed and it won’t be an outsider addressing them; and ashamed that by implication, he was giving up his ‘man card’. Because he was indirectly creating the impression he is not strong enough to handle his wife and kids, so only his brother could.

When he was done, he said he was leaving and was never going to come back. That again, he thought would function as a threat, which obviously didn’t serve the intended purpose. Shortly after, he left. Of the things that really got me so worked up was the fact that he didn’t care to ask how we’d been doing since he’d been gone, given that he knew mom had told him we were experiencing some serious financial challenges. All he cared about was his mother. The rest of us could go to hell.

Later in the evening, his brother called mom. He didn’t tell her why he was calling and only said he was inviting her to join them in some trip they had the next day. The one that had dad taking an early off on a Friday. Courteously she refused because it was on such short notice. Even he, was surprised dad hadn’t told us in the least that there was a family event; not that we would have attended anyway.

Mom asked him if there was anything else he wanted to tell her and he said there wasn’t so she just told him she knew he wanted to ask about the keys. She explained to him why she had taken them and unexpectedly, he actually understood why she had done it. He even asked if dad was still going to church. It wasn’t hard to tell he was also concerned about his brother’s behaviour. She also told him she wouldn’t be giving dad back the keys until the underlying issues were resolved.

When dad came home from the bar later, he said he was washing his hands off of us. He didn’t want anything to do with us. I had trouble understanding where he had prioritised us as his family, seeing as he was readily going out on a limb for his extended family, yet when it came to us, he seemed unperturbed.

The other day he was drunk, he got cross with my small sis, apparently for something she did ages ago, when she was around six. “You asked your mother if you could go find a new dad,” he scoffed, “maybe it’s time you did. Go find yourself another dad”.

That got me really concerned. All these years, I never knew he heard when my small sis had said that. Clearly she hadn’t said it out of pride, or anger. It was an innocent child speaking her mind out as a result of the misery our own father was putting us through.

So why would he in his right mind, not take a moment to ponder over that? Why would an innocent six year old say that of her dad? Personally I would freak out if God-forbid, I heard my children saying they wanted another mom.

Family life, not meant for all? Part 1

Ever bumped into someone and after watching them for a while, the impression you formed of them was, “This one wasn’t definitely cut out for a family life?” That might be a sad analysis of an individual I know, but sometimes circumstances might have someone reaching that conclusion. Here’s my own personal example:

Last week, I found myself analysing the life I’ve lived, and especially the things I know about my dear dad. And oddly, I just reached one conclusion: not every man was cut out to be a family man; to be someone’s husband, or dad.

He seems to have been unaware of his responsibilities as a family man from the get go. I have discussed my dad in so many of my posts that everyone who reads them ardently has an almost perfect image of who he is, based on how I portray him.

What had me reaching this weird conclusion was a series of events that have happened at various points in our lives, the most recent being last week. As I had mentioned in the previous post, dad’s mom has been unwell for a while, and most of that I attribute to old age.

After the fuss I’d mentioned in the particular post about the issues dad and his siblings had when they were trying to decide who among them was best suited to take their ailing mom in, they finally reached an agreement.

Their brother, who’s deemed the most affluent of them all took the onus; the fact that he had married a woman his mom didn’t want notwithstanding. It had been a really stressful issue for them because each sibling seemed to have a genuine concern as to why they couldn’t let the family’s matriarch into their homes; the past played a major role in this- she burned so many bridges in her ‘halcyon’ days.

When she eventually moved in, the siblings started visiting her regularly since she was close to them and it was easier that way; at least no one would have to worry about stirring up trouble in their house by taking her in. For starters, she and her oldest daughter-in-law don’t see eye to eye, so that household was off limits. And ours… that’s a belaboured account.

About three weeks ago, dad called me on a Saturday afternoon. He wanted to know when we were planning on visiting his mom. Given the very wanting relationship we have with her, we were obviously reluctant about it.

Again, I’ve mentioned in previous posts that family gatherings with dad’s family don’t quite make me ecstatic because those people have the potential to break someone down…and I mean really. That’s the one event you attend and by the time you leave, all you want is to never attend social gatherings again. They’re too competitive; always focusing on tearing someone down so they can feel good about themselves.

Dad sensing my reluctance, threatened he was going to tell on us to his family if we didn’t go. So I just wondered why he would use such a card, knowing how ‘unmoved’ we are by his family. Based on the poor relationship we have, it just never feels like we owe them any explanations. Anything we do for/with them, we do out of goodwill. Apparently he’s never figured that out.

After deliberating with my sisters, we reached a consensus; we’d be visiting her the next day after church. She is aging, and in spite of the way she’s treated us in the past we felt it was good to just check on her. Two wrongs don’t make a right after all. So the next day we honoured our promise.

Last Saturday but one mom needed some urgent cash, plus we needed to restock our pantry since we were running low on food supplies. She asked dad for some because he did have. She had seen it. He refused, completely. So mom was just stressed the entire weekend.

A few days before then, she had taken his car keys. This she’d done in the hope that it would hamper his drinking ways, seeing as he seems to be bonding with the bottle more with each passing day. It even gets worse when he drives to some nearby bars because he could spend an entire night out then come home close to noon. Like he did this past Friday. The risks involved here are numerous.

Neighbours complain he’s drunk and disorderly, and obviously when he gets home in that state, basic parking becomes a problem. It’s even horrifying thinking about all the accidents he could cause when drunk driving.

Lately he’s been spending all his weekends at his brother’s, where his mom is; however, that weekend he didn’t go since mom refused to give him back the keys. He slept on the couch the entire day; didn’t even talk to anyone. I felt he was behaving like a petulant child. Early Sunday morning he left the city so he could be ready for work by Monday.

Who’s more important?

Who’s more important? One’s sibling or a partner/spouse? A child or a spouse? A child or a sibling? One’s child or parent? This is a question so many would shrug off, but in a way, it’s a quagmire people find themselves in more often than not. No one will blatantly put someone in such a situation where they have to pick between loved ones, except in few cases where some people have the guts to go issuing such ultimatums.

Earlier today, my sisters and I were talking about the different relationships we humans are privileged to have. Filial relations between one and their parents, fraternal relations between siblings, parental relations between one and their children, romantic relations between one and their lover… of these, one can’t be asked which of those relations is most important because as it, each one is unique; different from the other.

For instance, I know the emotional satisfaction I derive from bonding with my sisters is so different from what I feel when I bond with my parents… and what I feel for a guy I’m involved with is a whole different story. So in my humble opinion, it would be inhuman to make one pick who they love most.

In a funny twist of events, mom came home in the evening and was telling us about a troubling conversation she had with a friend. As it turns out, the friend took her sister’s child in because she (the sister) got married to another guy, who said he wasn’t going to take care of another man’s child. Subsequently, the sister left her baby girl with her biological dad.

abandoned-child

Unfortunately, the girl’s dad died shortly after and life took a turn for the worst for her as she wasn’t getting proper treatment from the dad’s family. Moved by the girl’s predicament, mom’s friend (the girl’s aunt) took her in and now she is her legal guardian.

Since the girl wasn’t taken to school until recently when her aunt took custody of her, she’s around fifteen but only has the wits of a nine year old. It will be roughly five years before she joins high school; and that is, if she’s brave enough to stand disparaging remarks from her relatively younger classmates.

That story had me thinking; if I had a child with a guy, and then after breaking up with him, I got into another relationship where the guy insists that if I want to be with him I would have to abandon my child, would I submit to such a misguided ultimatum?

Not so far from home, I have a cousin who got a baby when she was only fifteen. Given that she was very young then, her parents helped her take care of her daughter. Unfortunately, a few years down the line, she met another guy, fell in love with him…

However, when they decided to move in together, she couldn’t take her child with her.  Her baby girl, who’s a teenager now, has been living with her grandparents all through. Her mom got another child with her new man… This was also the case with mom’s friend’s niece; her mom got more children with the new husband. They even relocated to another country so she has never met her siblings; worse still, there’s a very high possibility she doesn’t remember her own mother.

Such scenarios make me wonder, what does that imply for the children who are left behind by their parents as they forge new paths with other partners? My cousin’s daughter for instance; she has a sister whom she doesn’t interact much with and a mother she barely sees, all because her mom got into another relationship with a man who wasn’t her dad.

I’m cognisant of the fact that to some extent, this could be to the girl’s advantage. For instance, this might shield her from any form of abuse from the mom’s husband, who could maltreat her because she’s not his biological daughter. However, I can’t also ignore that a child who’s separated from his/her parent for such inadmissible reasons may have a very difficult life because they will always try to comprehend why their parent chose to abandon them.

The way I see it, no one should be made to choose between people they love. It’s unfair to ask a mother to ‘trade in’ her child for a new lover. This could be psychologically traumatising for both mother and child. Furthermore, I am of the opinion that anyone who claims to love someone will accept them and their children.

Personally, I wouldn’t believe a guy who said they loved me to the moon and back, but couldn’t accept my child because he/she is another man’s child. How does one reject my own flesh and blood, and still purport to love me? That doesn’t make any sense if you ask me. It’s unfair to say the least, to the innocent child.

In all fairness, where I’m at, I can’t pretend to know what parents who have encountered such mind-boggling issues go through; however, I can say with certainty, that people who give their partners such unfair ultimatums are driven by their own egoistic desires. They refuse to empathise with a blameless child, who will be unfairly separated from their family, and a mother (or father), who has to come to terms with abandoning their child.

Love presents itself in various forms, and each type is different from the other. We shouldn’t make anyone choose. It just ain’t right, in my humble opinion.

Fatherless child: Part 2

A week ago my big sis had a dental surgery. Dad drove her to the hospital, albeit reluctantly. He didn’t know what went in there but mom, who was with her the entire time came home distraught. She likened her experience to what Mother Mary must have gone through when she saw Jesus being tortured during His Passion; a mother’s pain when she sees her child suffering and can do nada about it.

When dad travelled out of town for work, he left her on an entirely liquid diet and he never called even once to find out how she was doing. He had her cancel her review appointment, knowing that the particular surgeon is only available once a week, so now she’s waiting for tomorrow’s appointment, which he still intimated she should cancel. All this while I’ve been thinking, if he cared even the slightest bit, he would have feigned some concern. That way we would never have known how much he detests us.

In very blunt words, dad has been the bane of our lives. The way I see it, he hates to see us happy. When he gets the impression we’re happy he does something to sabotage it. So if someone asked how it feels to have a father, I may not have anything positive to say about it.

Last Saturday he came home drunk as usual, and started complaining to mom how my small sis had told him he wasn’t her father.

“Mom, let’s find another dad,” he said, mimicking my small sister’s voice when she was younger. I was actually surprised because I didn’t know he had heard that years ago. Those are words my small sis said when she was around five, and now it’s years later. When she said that, she did it innocently because she had seen how happy other kids looked when they were with their dads, yet with us, the only thing we felt was misery.

He let us go hungry when he had money stashed in his bank account; spent nights outside drinking away… he made us know how it feels to live in a house where parents fight, physically, and as mom was the weaker of the two she always ended up hurt.

When I heard him mimicking my sister, I couldn’t help but think, if he heard that years ago, how come he never made an attempt to change? A good parent would have been concerned why their five year old daughter was saying such a thing. Instead, he only became more brutal, as if trying to emphasize the point. He didn’t seem to care what we felt/thought about him.

“Go find yourselves another dad,” he barked. “You think dads are bought in the supermarket. I’m leaving,” he told mom before walking out to go back to the bar, even though he was already drunk. “Let me know when you find another dad.” With that he left, and he came back the next day.

I know this might sound wrong, but honestly, I have more than enough reasons to believe that there are children who grew up fatherless, for whatever reasons, and have led happier lives than my sisters and I. Every time I picture myself raising my children in a home like the one I’ve grown up in-God forbid-I shiver, and I usually find myself thinking that it’s better to not have a family in the first place, because reliving this would be an absolute nightmare. I wouldn’t even imagine putting my kids through what I’ve been through myself.

When I was a child, I had a dream; that my dad would change and be a better man. Now I’m all grown up and almost moving out, and that dream didn’t come true. Sometimes, no, most of the times I fear that once I walk out of that door, I’ll lose his number and sever all possible ties I have with him. I’m afraid that one of the things I desperately want is to change my surname, because it constantly reminds me that he is my father.

Point is, I did grow up with my father. But if that has added any value to my life? I’m not sure. All I know is, I don’t want to be anything like him. When I get my own adorable children, God willing, I want to be everything he’s not; loving, caring, forgiving, empathetic…

There may be someone ‘fatherless’ out there who feels their lives would have turned out better if they had a dad; but take it from me; the grass is not always greener on the other side. For all I know, there are many children who grew up not knowing their fathers but who had very happy childhoods. Because at the end of the day it’s not about someone merely associating themselves with a father figure, but about what role that ‘figure’ plays in someone’s life. To some they are a blessing; and to others a curse. That’s just how life is.

 

 

Fatherless child: Part 1

absentee fathers

Fatherless child. Ever wondered who’s a fatherless child? I have a few ideas: it could be a child whose father is already dead; or it could be a child whose mother had more than one lover so she might not be able to tell who exactly is the baby’s father; it could also be a woman who had to raise a child alone because the father abandoned them; or it could be a child who knows the dad but he’s ever absent so the child considers him/herself fatherless.

I’m not oblivious to the fact that there may be other definitions of a fatherless child, but for the purposes of this post, discussion if you’d rather, I’ll limit myself to the aforementioned options since those are the ones I’m truly conversant with.

This post was prompted by very weird happenings; and I say weird, for lack of a better word. First of all, there’s this lady who works with mom. She has a three year old cousin whom she takes to mom’s beauty salon. So a few weeks ago mom playfully called him by his three names; the last being his surname.

Innocently, the kid told mom he wasn’t going by that surname anymore, and naturally she got curious. “My mom told me that one left us,” he answered innocently, when mom sought to find out why he was denouncing his surname.

“And the one you live with?” Mom asked since she knows the kid’s dad; or at least she thought she did.

“That’s not my real dad, but he lives with us.”

“D’you call him dad?” Mom pried.

“I just call him by his name,” he answered.

In my opinion, I felt the boy was too young for his mom to be telling him such complex matters but then again, even if she didn’t, someone else (think a nosy relative/neighbour) would beat her to the punch at some point. Anyways, that gave me the impression the boy already knew the man they live with is not his dad and that his actual dad deserted him and his mother. I couldn’t help wondering what would happen when later in future he meets him, knowing what he does now.

Then coincidentally, when I was coming home from court last Friday I overheard some neighbours’ kids talking. From my estimation they’re about three years old because they all recently joined kindergarten.

“Timmy says he doesn’t have a dad,” the only girl in that group of five children said. Timmy was also in that group, just listening silently.

“I have a dad,” another one said.

“Every child has a father and a mother,” the girl added confidently.

“But Chad says he’s the only one who has a mother and a father,” another one added. Chad wasn’t in the group with them but I know him and he’s a somewhat bratty kid who’s been mollycoddled by his parents a lot because he’s the last of three sons; so I kinda figured he had said that braggingly. I wouldn’t blame him though; his family emits the happy, perfect family vibes, unlike mine.

By the time I passed them, they were still debating about their friend Timmy being fatherless and whether it’s even possible for someone to be without a father. I pitied Timmy because I’ve heard of kids being bullied by others because they don’t have fathers. Thankfully those ones were not trying to make him feel bad about his fatherless condition.

Then in another totally unrelated instance, my small sis was arguing with dad. It wasn’t an argument per se. It was just dad doing all the talking while she on the other hand tried to block him out so she could finish fixing her breakfast.

He came home drunk in the morning after spending an entire night out club hopping and he found her in the kitchen. Mom had taken the car keys away because he always goes out to drink and by the time he comes back home he’s usually too drunk to park it.

Since he didn’t know who had taken the car keys and mom had already left the house, he assumed it was me or my sisters. When he started with his drunken rumblings, insulting us, my small sis just lost her cool and told him, he’d never been a father to her.

I understood where she was coming from; we’ve lived with him all our lives, but we couldn’t feel more fatherless. He’s been emotionally unavailable all through and never once has he tried to make up for the hurt he’s caused us. So even though we carry his name everywhere we go, we know it’s only a name.

The place of a family in the modern society

family

Relationships, what has become of them nowadays? Once upon a time, people would meet new acquaintances and they would agree to go out for coffee or lunch and gradually some new romance would brew. It was a step by step process that would eventually lead to the creation of a new family.  Nowadays the picture is very different though. People don’t put so much emphasis on dating, mostly the preliminaries are skipped and the two go straight to engaging in coitus.

When most old people are asked to give their two cents worth on the matter, they say young people have become very promiscuous. Normally I would be on the front line disputing that because I’m in that age group, but it just so happens that I’m in total agreement with the old folks.

The other day I was riding in a bus. I was seated next to a young man whom I imagined couldn’t have been older than thirty. He seemed a bit chatty and though I wasn’t in a talking mood, thanks to my introversion, I kept nodding.

To his delight, an older woman came and sat next to him. She seemed chatty too and before we knew it the two were exchanging excited banter. From what I gathered the young lad had sneaked from work in the afternoon and was headed to another place for a job interview.

Excitedly he told the lady how he had to get a job so he could take care of the children he was going to get in future.

“Are you married?” The lady asked him.

“I’m not married,” he replied freely. “And I don’t plan on it.”

“Why’s that?” The lady continued.

“Nowadays people don’t marry. A guy just gets a woman who gives birth to his children.”

“But shouldn’t those children be raised by both parents?” The woman asked, curiosity palpable in her voice.

“Not necessarily. Nowadays there are no women who are worth marrying. But since guys still want children, it’s easier to just find a woman who will agree to give us children.”

“Don’t you think the children will want to know who their father is?” The lady prodded further.

“Of course I’ll introduce myself to my children. Only I won’t be living with them. Maybe I’ll just be visiting once in a while and then I’ll be giving their mom money for their upkeep.”

As I listened in on that conversation, I couldn’t help but pity the current young generation. In my humble opinion, most guys seem to have lost the essence of what a family represents in society. Most people seem to think that it’s ok to just sire kids outside wedlock. And in some cases, most guys are siring children with more than woman while the women get children with different men.

This begs the question, do we as young people value families anymore? Or what they represent in society? A few years ago, while in high school, I learned that the family is the basic unit of society. Most values a child learns are picked up from these basic units.

In my family for instance, mom would have split from dad ages ago, were it not for the simple fact that she wanted us (my sisters and I) to grow in a complete family. Personally I don’t think that’s always important, given that if the parents are not in harmony, the whole idea of raising children in a complete family could even be to the children’s detriment instead of benefitting them.

My sisters and I for instance. We grew up in what outsiders would term a ‘complete family’, but deep down my sisters and I know the pain and suffering we’ve gone through. So, even though I advocate for families to continue being nurtured, I know they are not always advantageous to the children, or even spouses who suffer stoically at the hands of their partners, so they can raise their kids in a complete family.

So, back to that guy in the bus. From the things he told that lady, I would surmise he grew up in a complete family himself; with his mother, father and siblings. What he fears now, or seems to be afraid of is that the available women are not worth marrying, for instance, because they are too materialistic.

Personally I can’t even blame him. I know many ladies nowadays have embraced the ‘no romance without finance’ concept. However, I’m still of the opinion that we shouldn’t take for granted this small units in society. They are not worthless as many would imagine. They have their perks too.

So instead of giving up on them, we should try to find better partners. I believe that where someone presumes they won’t find a credible partner because ‘all women’ or ‘all men’ are the same, we already close our minds to the possibility of getting good life partners. We should be optimistic. There may not be too many people out there who seem to have the qualities we such for, but I believe they are there. And besides, we should also take our children’s needs into consideration. I would want to believe it’s every child’s dream to be raised by both parents.

Where life presents so many obstacles that two partners are separated, it’s ok for their kids to be raised by one parent, but if it’s our preconceived assumptions that hinder us from trying at least, then I think for our kids, we should try.