How Much Does a Father-Figure Figure?

In the past month, a lot of questions have come up regarding my background. Almost always the topic manages to make it's way to my parents, and how they raised me. To be completely honest, my "parents" never really raised me. In fact during my teenage years I referred to my mom as "my egg donor" and my dad as "my sperm donor", because it seemingly was the only real contribution they made in my life. I'm grateful I didn't wind up in a napkin somewhere, but at the same time someone needs to take accountability when it comes to raising a child.

Although my mom had her issues, and still does, she was around for the most part. My father on the other hand was a totally different story. I don't have many memories with my dad because we hardly spent time together. By the time I was born, he and my mother had broke up and he pretty much left us to fend for ourselves. My mom couldn't get child support because he didn't hold a job and whatever earnings he did make had to be divided up to his first four kids, leaving me- the baby of the bunch- without much. He tried to have contact with me off and on as I got older, but I was mostly left with disappointment.

He wasn't there for some of the most important and maybe not so important moments of my life. He was never there when I fell down and skinned my knees, never there to soothe my insecurities. Where was he the first time a boy broke my heart? I know where. He would be two avenues away on Broadway, washing cars to try to make ends meet. Which in essence means washing cars to support his drug habit.

Over the summer, I spent the most time with him than I ever had in the previous 21 years. He is currently living with his mother in The Bronx and I stayed with them for about a month. I realized that we have similar personalities, similar attitudes, similar characteristics when it comes to acting silly, you name it. At that point, I remembered a song by Fefe Dobson called "Unforgiven." It's about a strained relationship with her own father. At one point during the chorus, there's a line that always strikes a chord with me when I hear it. It goes "...Sorry is a word you like to say. Sorry won't erase the things you did yesterday."

He's trying now to build foundations that should've been in the development stages from the moment I was born. Does he realize, or better yet, will he ever realize that those years are gone and he can't get them back? Those were years when I needed him the most. I needed that "father-figure" influence in my life, but instead of finding it at home, I tried to find it in other places. The only influences I gained from that were negative ones. Luckily, I somewhat managed to make it. But there are plenty of others who don't.

The importance of a father has diminished over time. A lot of women think they can handle raising a child fine without the aid of a man. Sure you might be able to, but will the child be able to be raised just as well without that "father-figure?" Men need to realize that the ties that bind them to their children will never fray. So how much does a "father-figure" figure? I'd have to say a whole lot.


The Trouble With Love Is...

...It can make your heart believe a lie.

I've been in love 3 times- maybe twice because the last one is questionable- and each time I discovered something. You meet someone and you hit it off with them. First the two of you are hanging out all the time and then when you're not together, you're on the phone with him/her for hours at a time. Eventually, they become your boyfriend/girlfriend. You think to yourself, "this is great...it can't get any better than this." Then it does. Your significant other says those 3 magic words. "I love you." You begin to imagine your dream wedding, and a house in the suburbs and the perfect summer home in Cape Cod. The kids will all be wearing Ralph Lauren and your sheets will be 500-count Egyptian Cotton. Then the unthinkable happens. You find out your boyfriend has gotten another girl pregnant, or, you discover your boyfriend is extremely jealous and has tendency to become violent. Those are my 2 scenarios, but you can insert your own at any time. The point is it can really make your heart believe a lie because who knows for how long the signs were right there in front of your face. You couldn't see their lies because your love for them clouded your judgment and you couldn't see anything other than the love you felt for them, until it was too late.

...It can tear you up inside.

So the relationship has gone sour. What are your means for recovery? For me there are several options. First, sobbing excessively until your tear ducts beg you to stop. Second, curling into a ball and imaging the horrors of being single again. Third, eating a whole package of raw cookie dough or an entire bag of tater tots. Finally, forgetting the bastard by putting Destiny's Child's "Independent Woman Part II" on repeat for about a week. My favorite line in the whole song is, "I am my number one priority, no falling in love, no commitment from me." Second favorite line, "Do them boys like they used to do you. If you pimp them, I congratulate you." I like to take this moment to thank Beyonce for her words of encouragement and for helping me through some tough times. What would we do without you? Anyway, breakups are hard, harder if you've been in love with the person. You experience all these emotions and then the "what if's" slowly start to creep up on you, and the next thing you know you're a complete basketcase. It really does tear you up inside and the recovery time can be lengthy.

...It's stronger than your pride.

Like I said before, I've been in love 3 times- I'm still questioning that last one but more on that later- and after all the disappointments you tell yourself that it will never happen to you again. Love becomes your new four-letter word. You try to avoid it like the plague. You go out again with the sole purpose of having fun with your friends. If you meet someone, cool, but nothing more than a few dates and maybe the occasional hook-up (for my friends in the church reading this, here's a disclaimer: this was my pre-baptism life I'm talking about. You can stop freaking out.), without any expectations at all. That is until you start repeating the actions noted in the first paragraph. Your pride tells you don't do it. Don't get caught in the trap. Just turn around and walk away. Keep walking. That's it, just keep walking, don't look back. But sometimes you make the mistake of looking back, and instead of turning into a pillar of salt, it happens. You're in love all over again. This leads me to my final point.

...You've got no say at all.

No matter what your mind is telling you to do, the heart always seems to win. Remember that 3rd person I might or might not be in love with? It's all because I've really got no say at all in the matter. My mind wants what it wants, and that is to not be in love with the guy. At the same time, my heart wants what it wants, and that is to be in love with this person. So what happens next? You try to find ways to not like them. You try to criticize them on the way they behave, which at times can be very immature. But then something happens where you get to see their mature side, and their ability to come through for you in a crisis. Or you try to criticize them for their tendency to make jokes at some of the worst moments. But then you realize that their humor is one of the things you love about them and somehow no matter how mad you can be around them, all it takes is one funny face to make you laugh again. You see their talents and their potentials and you see how underrated they make themselves appear to be, when in reality they don't realize the many impacts they have in numerous peoples lives. For every bad thing you try to make up, there's always a ton of good to counteract it. As much as the mind tries to work for you, the heart works against you. The realization that the other party doesn't feel the same hurts. The story always ends the same...me standing in the pouring rain. And no matter what I do, it tears my heart in two. I try various ways to mend it. Distancing myself from them, etc. But then you see how much a part of you they've become and all that's left is a void. So you try to move on and eventually you will.

So for now I'll say love isn't worth the pain but then, at some point, I'll hear it call my name.