Planet Zees : Parenting ABC’s Episode 2 : Some Dads Rock
By Pat Harewood
My Dad rocks. The other day, he told me he played cricket with his friends in the park, using a tennis ball, of course.
And there was no obligation to run, he added, laughing. The man is 80. He grew up playing cricket in Barbados, where cricket is revered, much like hockey is here in Canada.
My Dad’s social life is more active than mine. And he still finds the time to cook for me and the kids and to visit us every week.
My kids don’t have a Dad. Some would say that this is entirely my fault. And they would be right.
You see…I always wanted to have kids. But perhaps due to my feminism and my unwieldy independence, I never had the same burning desire to be someone’s partner. After much reflection, I decided to try to have kids on my own – using an anonymous sperm donor. After many years of trying different methods, I tried in vitro and it worked the first time. I got pregnant with twins.
I have two healthy and beautiful 3-year old kids – a boy and a girl. And, they don’t have a Dad. It is a fact that I think about often. I wonder what my kids will say to me when they realize that they are father-less. My daughter, Zindsiwa, is already obsessed with “Papa”, her grandfather, and any human being with masculine features. My son, Zayde, often points at random men in the street and says: ” Papa”. Men remind him of his grandfather and of his friends’ fathers who come to pick up their kids at daycare.
Every day, I am reminded of my kids’ reality and challenged to think of ways to present their situation as a strength, not a deficit. Sure, there are lots of single moms out there…but how many single moms are out there by choice, by design? I have seen the groups on social media, and though they are more frequent now, it is still not that common.
I remember when I first had my kids, someone said that I had made a stupid decision in denying them a dad. The person was concerned that I had black kids, especially a black son, that would grow up without a father. In a society in which black boys are often criminalized, dehumanized and considered less than…how could I do such a thing? A colleague, another single mom, also shared a story with me about her 6-year old black son, who was acting out because, according to his Black male child psychologist, he was not getting enough Daddy time.
Reading Ta-Nahesi Coates’ letter to his son, Between the World and Me, reminded me that a father can have a lasting impact on his children by sharing the reality of his experiences, the depth of his analysis, and offering advice on how to survive. Coates’ treaties on the state of blackness and race relations in the U.S.A. is more than a letter to his son, of course. It is a biting critique of the the so-called American dream that was built on the blood, sweat and tears of enslaved African-American lives.
All of these stories gave me pause to think. My intention has never been to deny my kids anything. And, no one who has had a Dad as loving and committed as I have, can deny that some Dads rock. That Dads can help build self-esteem, confidence, knowledge and compassion. That Dads can be positive forces for growth and development in any child’s life.
Hopefully, my kids will grow to see that my decision to have them was not a decision to deny them a Dad, but a decision motivated only by my deep love for them. Maybe they will grow to appreciate the great contribution that their biological dad has made to their life story. Maybe they will find a father figure in their uncle, a teacher or some of my closest friends. And maybe not. All of that may not be enough but, Dad…isn’t it still something?
Planet Zees: Parenting ABC’s is a snapcast (really short podcast) that is aired on CHUO 89.1FM. You can also listen to all episodes at http://planetzeesparenting.libsyn.com.
About the writer
Patricia Harewood is a labour lawyer and a mother of two toddlers. She works in Ottawa and is a volunteer co-host on “Black on Black” on CHUO 89.1FM. Recently, she launched her snapcast -Planet Zees: Parenting ABC’s – a podcast about her adventures in parenting with a social justice twist!