My Father. Her Husband.
I was daddy’s little girl. I loved my father and my father loved me. He bought my first bra, designer perfume, cellphone, fancy wall art…the works. He’d tell me that he was setting standards for the men I’d love after him. To think that it is only recently that I had an aha-moment on how my relationship with my him shaped how i relate with the opposite sex; another post for another day.
Much as I enjoyed the privilege of being daddy’s favourite, I for the longest time resented my father. I resented him for the hurt and pain I felt he caused my mother. I resented him for the tension and heart palpitations I felt when he walked into a room after what I now gather a bad day in adulting and prey on my mother on why didn’t dinner look fresh or why the price of bread in China was what it was. I just didn’t get it.
Then one day — it hit me. This man was many things, a father to me and my siblings, a husband to my mother and most importantly a man trying to make sense of life (as we all are). Whatever I felt for this man, was from me looking at him as a husband and not my father. I realized that I had no business basing our entire relationhip on his performance as a husband; he already had a whole wife to do that.
Understanding that my dad was only human was a game changer for me. I appreciated that he too was on a journey trying to navigate this thing called life. He had his dreams and aspirations as well as fears and struggles that I would never be privy to. He did the best he could, using his own frame of reference as guidance.
As a father, he did an awesome job. He encouraged me to question things, to try new things; what’s the worst that could happen? He celebrated my wins, big and small. He cultivated my love for reading and learning. He came to every visiting day and even entertained the one boyfriend I had the guts to take home; man was still very African, don’t let the bra buying fool you. He was a good father. How he faired as a husband was for his wife to say; not me.
I lost my father 10 years ago. I am grateful that I stopped expecting perfection from him and loved him fully, free fromhow he was performing as a husband.
I did a talk on labels the other day (@pourandunwind) — on how limiting they could be. In focusing on my dad’s role as a husband, I wasn’t able to see what a great father he was and even more importantly, how he was just a simple man trying to adult the best way he knew how.