It’s a tight race to the finish line.
I’m one in a million, literally – swimming my way to a round, yolk structure – the sight of victory.
I come in first place. Woo-hoo, I’ve won the race!
I’m one in a million, figuratively. And so are the rest of you who’ve won the great sperm race to existence. Thank coitus (unless AI)! And hormones, and your parents…
910330. The first few digits of my ID number as well as my birth date. Add a few weeks to that and you’ve got a mother left to single-handedly raise her four kids while her husband indulges in adultery, only to leave a few more (bastard) children fatherless. There’s a word for men and women who help produce offspring. They’re called procreators. Also, sperm and egg donors, if you like. Not to be confused for a parent. Oh-oh. If Carl Jung’s perspective on the father complex is anything to go by, then my impulses seep with bad blood.
Many see growing up with a father figure vital to a boy’s development. An exemplary figure to facilitate a boy child’s growth into a man; someone who embodies masculinity. Reality is, not every boy grows up with a father and the recent spike in divorce rate in South Africa (28%, according to the Justice Department’s 2012-13 annual report), makes it look even more bleak. So cue Ming Tea’s hit song “daddy wasn’t there” and you’ve got the life story of every kid who grew up with an absent father. Tsk-tsk.
I had no archetypal father-son bond growing up, but as American president Barack Obama said “learn from your father, even if he wasn’t a good one”. So hostility aside… Despite not having had a father to kick ball with, to help me with my homework, to teach me to drive, to talk about the bird and the bees… his absence has taught me a lot, like how not to be a man. I was left at the deep-end, but thank goodness for the rock that is my mother. That’s also why I have much respect for women today – so thanks for that, father. The sheer truth is; blood’s not always thicker than water, especially when you have no emotional relationship with someone whatsoever.
So many theories on father-son relationships exist, none of which really speak to me. Postmodern theorists believe those who’ve had an absent father become preoccupied with the loss of paternal authority. Jungians would most likely tell you I’ve got a “father hunger”, constantly seeking unactualised aspects of the father archetype in the outside world. BS.
“Somebody once said that every man is either trying to live up to his dad’s expectations or make up for his dad’s mistakes,” Obama. T’s true, I say. My bitter, angry phase is foregone. My father’s very absence drives me to this day – to be a better person, a better man. To be the antithesis of my father… What a blessing in disguise his whore-mongering ways turned out to be.
So with Father’s Day looming, here’s a few things I’ve learned from my father (dad and ol’ man are terms too affectionate for my liking)…
Like father, like son…is actually just a catchy saying family like to throw around to make small talk. You may turn out to look just like him, but I’m not entirely convinced behaviour can be hereditary. A classic nature versus nurture debate, maybe? Someone once said to me “you are your father’s child, Ashraf,” implied in a negative way. I don’t walk, talk, act, eat or breathe like him. I don’t see the world through the same lens as the man who didn’t raise me – a superficial pursuit to make pots of money. So no, I’m not my father’s child.
We often allow ourselves to be blinded by pain and anger but beyond those layers of hurt usually lay a mixed blessing. I’ve found mine, have you? Experience truly is the father of wisdom…
I would certainly not have turned out to be the man I am today had my father helped raise me. His authoritarian presence in my life back then could easily have seen me pursuing a passionless moneymaking career today, whereas my mother only ever supported my dreams. So thanks for that too, father – inadvertently as that was. So in preparation for my baby making days, I carry the wisdom that I shouldn’t be hasty but rather be mindful of the repercussions my urges may have. Sure shit happens, but babies don’t just. Not everyone’s cut out to be a parent, but hey, it’s never too late…
See in my mind my father’s just a tragedy now, and you know what they say about kicking a man when he’s down… People often say to me that “no matter what, he’s your father and without him you wouldn’t have been”. True, but there’s also no need to be grateful for someone who simply gave into their sexual urges and ran off when the repercussions came in the form of a new life – a responsibility, something to be cared for. Not every father or mother deserves to be celebrated, but nothing weighs a man down more than a grudge. So to every other guy out there whose father abandoned him, you don’t have to spoil him with gifts on Father’s Day. Make Father’s Day your day. The day you learn from your father, the one who never was.