Kahlil from Richmond, VA asks:
I’m going to be a dad soon. It wasn’t planned and I feel unprepared but mostly I’m worried about the type of dad I’ll be.
Every dad that has ever existed or will ever exist can be categorized into one of two groups.
As a dad you can be present or absent. Dassit. Those are all of your choices.
And every dad chooses.
Your dad chose.
And now so will you.
For some men, these two categories aren’t black or white. In 1964, a young man, with a great sense of duty (and that’s what it must’ve been), was faced with deciding between his child and his country. And no matter what we think of his decision, it must’ve have been made with a heavy heart. Yet, as an educated man and a patriot and an idealist, he must’ve felt the weight of his responsibility to help guide his newly emancipated motherland into a new era. He knew he was meant to be one of the leaders of his people, and rightly so. And he must’ve had great plans.
But who plans for love to end?
And how do you weigh a child against a nation?
Well, in 1964, that young man let his divorce go uncontested and in so doing, he gave up all custodial rights to his son.
That absent father was Barack Obama, Sr.
And he never became the great man he felt he was destined to be but his son did.
Other famously absent fathers include; the deceased, felons, rolling stones, men on a quest, 50 Cent, Zeus, gamblers, addicts, all men named Slick, most rock stars and Penny Hardaway (probably).
A Sub-category of the absent dad is the present but somehow still absent dad. Famous present but absent dads includes; ghosts, Mr. Duggar, Peter Gunz (because they can see him on Mondays at 8), Homer Simpson and every dad trying to bring his city a championship.
So Mr. Obama made his choice.
And at some point so did my dad.
My dad was present. But being present starts right away and this can sometimes be hard for Geminis because most of them are low-key not interested in their kids until they can talk. So although my dad was present, very present—my first memory is of his absence.
I may have been two or three and it was my birthday. And in my memory of it, I’m sitting in front of my birthday cake feeling anxious. I really want to blow out my candle but I’ve been told I can’t, not yet, because we’re waiting on my dad. And I remember the fidgeting kids around me, and the even more impatient adults. And I remember feeling my anxiety grow along with my embarrassment.
And in my memories, I’m always at that table, sitting in front of that cake. Waiting.
And yet my mom assures me that my dad was at that party. That he must’ve just stepped out for something we were running low on.
But my memory doesn’t extend past that anxious moment.
And I'd have to imagine it's shaped me in a lot of ways.
So much so that twenty-fours years of him being very present didn’t prepare me for his voluntary absence after their separation.
And I felt like You *clap* Made *clap* Your *clap* Choice! You can’t take it back.
But he did.
Because although you don’t have a wide variety of choices. You’re allowed to keep choosing.
Other famously present fathers include; helicopter dads, coaches, Mrs. Doubtfire, Mr. Tanner, the unemployed, writers (for the material), activists, actors and teachers (because of the downtime) and preachers.
A Sub-category of the present dad is the presently absent dad. Famous presently absent dads includes; men who work nights, felons, men in the military, politicians, business owners, doctors, rappers, lawyers and for a time, Ned Stark.
No pressure though. It’s clearly a crapshoot.
Obama’s father’s absence helped drive him but clearly my dad’s absence didn’t take, maybe because it happened too late. That must be why I’m not running the free world. Or maybe he wasn’t aggressively present enough. Like Jordan and Tiger and Serena’s dads clearly were.
All this to say, I’m not worried about the type of father you’ll be Kahlil because your worry is enough.