A Man Like You and Me

dad

It’s only when you grow up and step back from him–or leave him for your own home–it’s only then that you can measure his greatness and fully appreciate it.
– Margaret Truman –

 

Becoming Dad

Ha, mo de ma’ngbe e jo gan o . . .” my father replied, after some silence; his voice strained with regret.

His eyes were misty and distant as the words fell from his mouth a second time, “Ha and I used to dance with you in my arms a lot.”

I had just asked my father why he never played with me when I was growing up. It was a warm Tuesday morning and the sun’s glow outlined the Welsh mountains. We scoffed a lovely breakfast at The Melting Pot, my wife’s café. While resting our food, we talked about the meaningfulness of things done and left undone. The mood felt safe enough for me to explore territory I should have outgrown but which sometimes dragged me back to youthful despair, hence my question.

You see, he was visiting my family again after several years. We spent more time together during this visit than we’d ever done before. In recent years, we’d begun to discuss matters, from the deep and trivial to personal and philosophical. Each subsequent discussion stretched us, not apart, but closer, as we better understood one another’s worlds.

He leaned forward in his seat and explained that he had no such upbringing or peer influence. Moreover, he was usually away because of work. He reassured me that he loved me, but given his background, he’d only danced and played with me in my very early years. We were both sad that he had neither seen nor met what had been a big need for me.

I am now a proud father of two wonderful children. Ours is a joyful story of love and affection expressed through banter, wrestling, singing, cuddling, debates, work, travel, and discipline.

However, as a young married man I had angst about having children though I relished the prospect. I wanted to be the beautiful father I had carefully conceived, but there was no one to walk me down that road. Because I’d heard that hurt people hurt people and you can become the worst of what you hate, I feared that I would wreck my children.

I studied and I prayed. A major answer came through friendship with our pastors Rob and Sue. The intimacy they shared with their kids freaked me out at first, but I soon realised it was what I longed for. My wounds began to heal as they mentored my wife and me.

I believe every man has a wound or two that may hamper his display of love or calcify his heart towards his children. I also believe each man has enough desire, courage, and capacity to love his children and show it in edifying ways that buoy them into robust futures.

I’m still on the road to becoming a beautiful dad. However, I’m confident that my children are not archiving questions they plan to ask me when they are forty-four and I’m visiting!

Later that evening, my father watched me battle my children on the carpet for what seemed an eternity to him. He exclaimed with delight, “Ha, joo, ma se awon omo yen l’ese o! Please, don’t injure those children o!”

My children and I are enjoying the life my father couldn’t have with me. He treasures our lives because he is part of the reason I found a happy intervention and started a different story.

OluFemi Ogunbanwo lives in North Wales with his wife Margaret and 2 kids aged 21 and 15. He is a Pastor, Family Mediator, and Parenting Coach.

 

Seeing Dad Through Daddy Eyes

My best time with my dad was when I was about eight or nine. Dad was always the disciplinarian. He gets a bad rap in my memory, which is unfairly coloured by that one attribute, except when I focus on this period of my life.

Several defining incidents jump to mind. First was when I told Dad that our dog, Ricky, was run over by a car. My strong, Nigerian, macho dad turned to mush. He was visibly upset and I thought he would cry. I witnessed a sensitivity that I had never seen before.

My fascination with science started early. Dad got me a chemistry set and I had fun with it. I also spent many hours shoving dad’s tester into live sockets for the fun of seeing the light come on. I tried to create my own lamp once; armed with bulb, bulb holder, electric cable, and plug obtained from Dad’s supplies drawer. I put it all together but since I hadn’t learnt about proper wiring, I ended up with a mini explosion rather than a lit bulb when I plugged in my contraption. My ingenuity was rewarded with a tanned bottom.

I remember riding my Chopper bicycle with stabilizers down our crescent-shaped driveway, which ran for about 100 metres linking the entry and exit gates of our house. One day, Dad decided the stabilizers were coming off. He came close, real close, supporting my bike and me, running down the driveway with me, and then suddenly letting go. I went through a mixture of emotions: enjoying his tenderness yet embarrassed at being the focus of attention. I was afraid of disappointing him if I fell, but I relished the adrenaline-fuelled exhilaration of riding unsupported with the wind in my face. I was riding! I was riding!

As I grew older, I felt Dad should have done more, been more loving, paid more attention to me, disciplined me less, and better prepared me for life ahead. So I withdrew from him and moved forward, leaning on myself.

I realise now that even though he looked so big and mature then, he was younger than I am now. A man with five kids in his early forties, he held a mid-management government job. He clawed his way out of poverty with a technical school qualification to insulate his own family from every trace of his earlier life in a polygamous home. He never experienced the love of a father yet he displayed more than he’d ever received.

Have I done better with my son and daughters even though I started out with much more? Would I have done half as much as Dad did if life served me with what he was given?

Faced with my own pressures, my son is being relegated in my thoughts, more often than I’d like to admit, to a day in future when I will have time to be the dad I swore I would be. Remembering my youth brings home the truth that life is only lived in the present.

Dad, I have come to appreciate you more than I did back then. Thank you for giving me more love than you ever received. I hope I honour your legacy by doing the same with my kids.

Carlton Williams lives in Lagos with his wife Anita and has four children. His life mission, expressed in Christian ministry and business, is to help people discover and demonstrate their God-given magnificence. 

 

Photo Credit: Wokandapix/ https://pixabay.com/en/dad-father-tie-father-s-day-798086/

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Advertisements

21 thoughts on “A Man Like You and Me

  1. I connected very much with this stories. They mirror a part of my life I am still navigating in the waters of understanding, appreciation and what it means to be a good father, good son.

    When a parent had a very rough childhood, there is much to forgive. Still, it can be difficult to focus on the good and sweep the hurtful moments aside. I believe time and circumstance become the best teachers in the end. I await what the future holds.

    Like

    1. Hi Samuel, thanks for sharing. I’m glad the stories resonated.
      I like the quote at the beginning, “It’s only when you grow up and step back from him–or leave him for your own home–it’s only then that you can measure his greatness and fully appreciate it.”

      Yes, time can provide perspective . . . I hope it does for you. 🙂

      Like

  2. Not sure if it is a coincidence but my Igbo middle name means “Fathers Friend” in English. I have grown through a friendly relationship with my father. Unlike my other siblings, our relationship has always been extremely very informal. In my Uni days, whenever i speak to him over the phone, my friends can almost bet i’m speaking to a friend!

    Even when he calls me today, the first thing he always says with a big smile is “Emeka Talks’. He has thought me so much, and i hope to become a decent father someday 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a heart-warming tribute to your dad. Of course your name has something to do with it! XD. With his example to help you navigate fatherhood, the sky shouldn’t be your limit!

      Like

  3. Great stories.

    I will have a dedication to my father who died just before this past Christmas @85 yrs. I’ve been thinking about what subject I would choose …you’ll see. But it won’t be for a few months.

    My partner is proud parent of 2 adult children, and 3 grandsons. He was delighted to get a photo of a 3 yr. grandson who takes to his new bike like a fish to water.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jean, I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. I look forward to reading your dedication.

      I like how ‘proud parent’ sounds to my ears. Of course, biking must flow in the genes! XD
      Happy Father’s Day to your partner.

      Like

  4. I’ve often wondered at how different we come to see our parents once we grow up- and how who they are, who they couldn’t be- and how it impacts our choices. My dad used to be so larger than life for me- and now that I’m grown enough to see him as a person, it’s been an interesting shift in relationship. I can only imagine how this complicated relationship between men- father’s and son’s can have its own layers of nuance as well. I enjoyed both posts on how the lens of fatherhood impacts how a man comes to see his dad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ” . . . how who they are, who they couldn’t be- and how it impacts our choices.” I’ve wondered too, and made my peace. I hope “interesting shift in relationship” translates to something positive for you both.

      We grow up and realize that dads are people too, and maybe cut them some slack! 🙂

      I’m glad you enjoyed reading. Thanks Diahann.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I came on my family late, when I married Peggy. Tony was heading for the Naval Academy and Tasha was graduating from high school. So I missed the childhood years. But I enjoyed the two stories, and the struggles to be a “good” dad. Certainly the definition has changed from what is was 40 or even 20 years ago, as has the role of men and women. I don’t know about Nigeria, but here men are expected to be more nurturing, and women have more opportunities to contribute to the financial well-being of the family. There is more sharing and equality of responsibilities. I believe it is a change for the better. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gender roles keep evolving. Many Nigerian women I know have opportunities to contribute to the financial well-being of the family. My mum certainly did. I have seen more sharing of responsibilities over the years, not 50-50, though. Even in the Scandinavian countries that were trail blazers in paternity leave, etc, some aspects of nurturing fall (naturally?) on the woman’s shoulder.

      Happy Father’s Day Curt. I’m glad you enjoyed reading. 🙂

      Like

  6. I enjoyed reading these stories by men about their fathers. I do believe most men try to be a better parent to their children than than their parents were to them. In my own case I was raised by a military officer who was quite authoritative. There are or were many lingering grievances. However, now that my father is in his dotage and does not even remember our childhoods it is difficult to hold onto hard feelings. He knows me and is happy to see me and I and happy to see him, I treated my own children quite differently and I am lucky to have their love and kindness today. It is all good. Happy Father’s Day to all!

    Like

    1. I enjoyed the perspectives they shared too.
      I like what you said about the difficulty of holding on to hard feelings. It would seem that parents from another era spoke a different kind of love language. Isn’t it like us to want to improve on the parenting we received? I’m glad to hear that you did and enjoy a rich relationship with your kids.

      Happy Father’s Day, Benn!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I tried so hard to ignore that today was Father’s day. I suppose there was no point trying because the truth is that I think about my father almost daily because I miss him almost daily. I am thankful for loving memories.

    Happy father’s day 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I wrote my Dad’S legacy post early in June. I liked these stories, Timi. I hope men realize they can be democratic in their approach to parenting despite the way they may have been raised. I learned in grad classes the difference between authoitativevsnd authoritarian parenting. One creates rebellion and feelings of oppression and the other allows freedom while children learn to still follow rules. People can change their way of parenting and grow together.
    Hope all role models and father’s out there have a blessed Father’s day 🙂

    Like

The conversation never stops, please join . . .

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s