Fathering a child doesn’t make you a father. Being there and raising one does. — Unknown
This is for the fathers, those who are there, those who are supportive those who take on their role with bravery even though they never planned for it, those who are parents to children who aren’t theirs and those who are fathers and mothers at the same time. Men are not trained or raised to be fathers, and most don’t know what to do, and so many step into this role absolutely unprepared, but I praise those who despite the lack of a handbook, take on their responsibility with all the courage and dignity in order to teach, and raise their children to be honorable, responsible and loving people.
And for the dead beat dads who never showed up, who neglected their roles, there are the brave and incredibly strong women who have to fill the role of both mother and father, like my grandmother Pauline who raised my mother and my uncle alone, and she did it all, encapsulating both roles, raising an amazing strong woman in my mother and a gifted, brave Vietnam veteran in my uncle.
This is for the fathers who become role models, mentors and educators of their children.
I am proud of the fathers who show up, who raise their daughters to be strong, independent and self reliant women. The fathers who fuel their daughters with courage to speak their mind and never shy away from their true self, the fathers who instruct their daughters that its not shameful to make mistakes, and fuck up, and to fight their own battles, patriarchal stereotypes, and the bullshit images they see portrayed on a daily basis. The fathers who show their daughters through actions, words and deeds how women should be treated by being a living example. The fathers who treat the women in their lives with respect, integrity and dignity. The fathers who sing to their daughters, and take their sons on adventures that build character and conviction. The fathers who take time to read books, listen to music, color in coloring books and play with dolls because real men do that too. The fathers who raise their sons to be kind, loving and respectful, to be men and husbands and leaders and not perpetuating macho, sexist behaviors that make them a “real man”. The fathers who show, and teach their sons and daughters valuable lessons, and challenge their way of thinking by pushing them to be more than just their stereotypical roles and show them how its done through their own life choices. The fathers who teach their boys to be inquisitive and responsible young men, who will make strides to protect, uplift and respect the women in their lives.
And I pity those who fall short, who fail, to understand their place, who neglect the enormous responsibility they have been given to fulfill; who pretend, that just because they fathered a child, or pay the bills, its not up to them how that child grows up in society, and who don’t understand that fatherhood isn’t a role that is a given, but a unfathomable gift and monumental task that lasts a lifetime.
For my father.
“Everybody is an asshole just try to be less of an asshole” – J. Kounelis
I could not end this post with out thanking my father. A man who’s life has been a whirlwind of triumph and tragedy, and who’s courage to overcome his adversities has made me fight harder for what I believe in.
So dad this is for you:
Thank you for having faith in me, for singing to me while you shaved in the bathroom, for taking me for omelette and fries on the top of a village mountain, for teaching me about painting, poetry and architecture. Thank you for teaching me to love others despite the outcome, for instilling in me the passion for travel and adventure. Thank you for showing me how to sail the seas, drive fast and furious, and walk in the hot sand, and pick out sea shells. Thank you for showing me how to create art out of simple objects. Thank you for teaching me to love music and taking me to my first Pink Floyd concert. Thank you for showing me that standing up for my rights, for my voice, is what real women do, and that my right to choose motherhood or not is my decision and no one else’s. Thank you for trusting me to fight my own battles and thank you for letting me choose my path instead of choosing one for me. Thank you for taking me bar hopping at age six and pushing me to go up against the big boys and not tolerate bullying and intimidation. Thank you for showing me that failure is part of success and that being perfect isn’t really all that important. Thank you for quietly and behind the scenes, supporting my love of dance and never doubting my instincts. Thank you for being a mentor and a teacher and a surrogate father to other children who didn’t have a father to look up to. I am grateful for you dad, despite our differences and disagreements, our quarrels and moments of silence, you are the best father a daughter could ever hope for.