“Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventurers, storytellers and singers of song.” —Unknown
We are not sure what is ordinary anymore given the pandemic, high unemployment and global protests supporting not only Black Lives Matter, but also protests for indigenous lives that have been decimated by the colonizing authority in power across the globe.
So how to be a Dad in this environment?
Here are two stories of ordinary single Dad’s attempting to make life better for their sons and their feelings of not being good enough at times to meet the demands.
The first story comes from Corey Best, who is on the HOPE (Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences) National Advisory Board and the Birth Parent National Network (BPNN) | CTF Alliance. As a black man and single father, he shares his perspective on what it is like to raise a son in today’s world. When asked by an interviewer what his view of fatherhood means, he says
“I feel that starts with relationships. I’m a single father, and when I think about HOPE, I also think about the systems that my son interacts with, whether those are: after school programs, teachers, and the adults or developmental assets in his life. HOPE from a parenting perspective is recognizing his ability to grow, to learn, to continue to have a growth mindset, [and that] his current situation isn’t fixed, that as long as we try, through positive experiences, there’s HOPE”
With COVID-19, like many other fathers, especially single fathers, he’s had to shift from primarily job/career focused to being a homeschool parent, a guidance counselor, teacher, dad, and disciplinarian.
In Corey’s words again COVID-19 “has caused me to think about how I might balance my work and life better, because the time spent with my child has been rewarding. I have gotten to see and witness him. I notice that he looks to me for modelling behaviors that he wants to see in himself. COVID has taught me a lot more about parenting. It is not about disconnection, it’s more about re-connecting with him. This has re-energized a new way of us relating to one another that has been so impactful to the relationship overall”.
John was living an ordinary life when his wife, pregnant with their daughter, died just two days before their son was two years old. Thankfully, he was able to have a nanny to help with the caregiving while he focused on work. Then COVID-19 came. His nanny tested positive and so for the first time, he was in the same small apartment space with his son (now five years old) 24-7 (Thankfully neither he nor his son came down with the virus).
While he was fortunate to keep his position at full salary, all of the demands of his time became inter-twined with him needing to pay attention to his son. Dinners were peanut-butter sandwiches and salami, not because that was the only thing he could create, it was the only meal his son would eat. He felt guilty when saw that his son was the only boy in sweatpants while others wore their Little League outfits. Bedtimes were reading hero and villain stories, with the heroes always saving the day.
As with Corey, John knows that COVID-19 brought he and his son together. In John’s words “I had a tough time with anxiety the first few weeks we were sheltering in place. And then one day something occurred to me. During an especially low moment, Dash came over to tell me that he loved me. Being cloistered in a small apartment with him, though demanding, was actually a gift. And it’s because we’re together. His dad, even though busy with work 9 to 5, is in the same space as him all day”.
No, John will not have to talk to his son about racism, about inequality, about Black Lives Matter in the same way that Corey already has. It’s hoped however that the modeling that both dads are doing for their sons will carry over into a more just and caring society
Today we celebrate these two stories, two fathers living different lives, yet turned by love to be the storytellers and singers of song for their sons and the world.
How has your father and/or the father of your children been turned by love into the storytellers and singers of song in your family?