As a single mother raised by a single mother, my biggest issue has been dealing with bad choices I made because I just did not know what being loved by a father felt like. What scares me most is when I actually realized that I had a problem. It took 26 years! My mum did an amazing job at providing, supporting and smothering us with love. However, no matter how much she bent over backwards, only a man can do a man’s job. Only a man can teach a boy to be a man, only a man can be his daughter’s first true love! I have seen the effects of absentee dads on my siblings too! One who craves a father so bad, one who became a feminist and is skilled at smelling bullshit from a mile away and being vocal about it and one who works so hard never to be like his father to his family. Despite them being some of the most extra ordinary people I know in society, born and raised in some of the harshest situations by an extremely loving mother, I still see the void!
When I look back, the first case of extreme desperation that I re-call, is an ex I dated just after Osman died. I met him at a college I hated being at. In the effort to snap me out of mourning for 6 straight months, my mum woke me up one morning and told me, not asked me, but told me, to go to some accounting school that she felt would give a great future as a teller at a bank. I really hate accounting. I had the worst commerce teacher in high school. It left a bad taste in my mouth. I agreed to give it a try because she said that it was all she could afford at the time. After a month or two of classes that I understood absolutely nothing about, I made a couple of friends who gave me a reason to commute to school, jot down some notes and pretend to study at the school cafeteria everyday while chatting.
One rainy afternoon, I walked into the cafeteria to meet the usual squad and catch up. As I walked up to them and sat down, I saw this cute light skin guy seated at the corner looking like a ray of sunshine, just staring at me. Every girl knows how that feels. LIKE LITERAL BUTTERFLIES IN THE STOMACH! I fell, immediately! This went on for a couple of days until he finally came over and asked me out. Little miss flattered couldn’t believe it! In about a month, the guy and I were supposedly dating. I had found my “out” from the loneliness and pain I struggled with after Osman died! Serial escapist, I tell you. A month into us dating, we had some kind of routine. Meet in the school cafeteria, have lunch, take a walk, catch up,then I would head home with my friends. It was an expectation I needed to remain constant.
I went into the cafeteria one afternoon and the guy wasn’t there. I called him and his phone was off. So, I texted a couple of times to find out where he was, why he wasn’t around and why he disappeared a day after going out clubbing with his “best friend”, who was the hottest chic in campus! At the time, I just thought he had the flu, or a car hit him and he was in hospital. I always thought the best about everyone. I did not understand malice at all! He finally resurfaced, a couple of days later at our lunch joint with a girl who he told me was his “cousin”. I felt relief! Like, can the routine resume for my sanity???! To my utmost disappointment, the disappearing acts intensified and the reasons became obvious lies. It thrust me back into my misery!
He eventually broke up with me in the most uncouth way and much later came back to wreck havoc in my life (story for another day). However, what I look back and see is that desire to fill an emptiness with anything and anyone to the extent that it destroys people. I once watched a clip on you tube that defined healthy and unhealthy relationships. There are people who are emotionally co-dependent. Those who’s lives are a mess that they cling to someone and rely on that person to define their lives. In short, your partner/friend becomes the center of your world. Any selfish move they makes either destroys your world or forces you to settle for less, just to remain in the relationship.
My biggest fear as a single mum has always been watching my child become like me and my siblings because she doesn’t know what a father’s love is. Leaving that void open for just any man to fill. My sister has raised the most remarkable boy I have ever met! He is an amazing 14 year old that is so smart and rational, it intimidates us as adults! She did it on her own for about 7 years. I remember people saying he would become gay because he was all over his mum and had no manliness in him . His dad came back into the picture to co-parent and he started making his own choices on habits and lessons he would pick and not pick up from his father. The wisdom his mother gave him for the first 7 years of life helped him smell bullshit from a mile away! He confidently outlines bad habits about his father and the rest of us that he never wants to adopt and, it is usually the bitter truth! He will be the man every woman wants to take home to her parents!
Emptiness is hard to identify and worse even, harder to work on! However, they say, hurt people hurt people. It is your responsibility as an individual to identify the void and work on filling it yourself through self love before you get anyone into your life. The minute you love yourself well enough, you cannot accept brokenness into your life. It is at this point that you realize, that God does not give you what you want when you want it. He gives you what you need! Most of the time, what you need is not what you wanted in the first place! I have come to accept that, I cannot force a man to be a father. It is not my fault that people make the choices they make. I cannot cry, remain angry or do anything to change the reality. However, I can be the best mother I possibly can be. When the time comes, I want her to learn from my past and hopefully feel the need to be better! Hope hasn’t gone to the dogs yet for single mums. We can still point our kids in the right direction. My sister did, and she did it all by being very honest with her boy but still remaining civil and not slandering his father! Blood is still thicker than water. However, now he knows the truth and has made his choices that are making him an amazing man!