Growing up, I always felt fortunate to have lived in a home with my father. Having a dad gave me the ability to navigate through life without having to question certain things. It gave me a boost of confidence that allowed me to move through life with 10 toes down (RIP Nipsey Hussle) and know that I would be okay. It gave me the ability to turn down guys who wanted too much, to know the story behind my last name and to have my existence as a Black woman validated. As a child, I watched my dad do whatever was required to take care of us. I watched people rave over his meals and even try to get his recipes out of me & my sister after church dinners. I watched him teach himself to repair things around our house. I listened to his stories about growing up in Philadelphia in the 70s. I laughed at his funny stories while learning to respect whichever old school artist was playing in the background. And I enjoyed my first bean pie from the brothers with the bow ties when he taught me about how other Black people experienced God. So many of the things I love (cooking, history, Philadelphia Eagles, music, learning anything new) and care about have their root in our shared story. As someone who never spoke positively of their experiences with their own dad and who still carries lots of pain from that relationship, I’ve often wondered where the drive to keep his family going and thriving came from. My dad is in no ways perfect. Our family has had some very dark years over the past couple decades related to my parents deciding to divorce. Our relationship has had so many bumps, twists, turns and even dead ends at points. It’s been the cause of many a conversation with my therapist, tears, phone calls to my mom, and even difficult sacrifices for me. No choice made by a parent is without consequence and I have had to bear the weight of those consequences. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen what the alternative could have been. I am grateful for the positive I experienced and I am grateful I grew from the negative I experienced as a result of my relationship with my dad. I believe that at 29 years old, I can finally understand Joseph’s position. Sometimes what is meant for evil God can work out for good. To my dad, Demetrius, Happy Father’s Day. Thank you for stretching yourself to love your children. Thank you for learning to love even when you hadn’t seen it before. Thank you for showing me that Black fatherhood could be more than what the stereotypes said. Thank you for being so excited about your newest grandchild. And thank you for always telling me how proud you are of both me & my sister. We’re proud of you, too, and we know that the best is yet to come for you.
As I sit in bed 31 weeks pregnant with our first child, I am in awe of the miracle of life growing inside me. My husband and I have been given the most precious gift in the world. This child that we are waiting to meet is our greatest responsibility and joy. Yet no responsibility comes without sacrifice. When we found out I was expecting in December, our joy was abundant but the reality of what would unfold hit us very quickly. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, my body started to feel like a death trap. A few days before Christmas, I went to get a massage, ate something light and made a mess all over my clothes, my husband’s car seat and a random parking lot. As someone who hasn’t experienced much illness and has been incredibly healthy and honestly, independent for most of their adult life, this was quite a shock for us both. Shortly after this, we traveled out of state for my husband’s work, only to experience the same illness magnified over a week’s time. We quickly learned that the crackers, peppermint and ginger were not helping, and that this might be more than we both expected. By the time we returned home, I had lost significant weight and needed an ER trip for dehydration. My husband stayed by my side, advocating for my care and ensuring that both I and our baby were being appropriately treated. Since our baby began growing inside me, our life has changed dramatically. Work, grocery store, home, repeat. No more dates with friends, no more hanging out after work just for the heck of it, a lot of frustration and a lot of anxiety around every meal. Sometimes tears even. That became our life. Morning (and noon and night, if I’m being honest) sickness took over to the point where he had to become our personal nurse. Constantly moving me from couch to bed to bathroom, to holding me up and bathing me in the shower, to repetitive grocery store and food runs to try to get whatever would stay in my stomach and allow our baby to grow. I’m sure he broke a record with the number of visits he made to my school this year to bring coconut water and turkey jerky, dry pasta and rotisserie chicken, Lara bars and two peaches, breakfast sandwiches and an orange juice, a toothbrush in case I left mine and bottles of alkaline water because all other water tasted bad. Driving to school became impossible for me because (you can’t vomit and drive) so he dropped me off and picked me up every single day. Some days when I felt particularly crummy, he came inside and walked me to the car. He never became upset when I wet the bathroom rugs he had just washed, when smelly things from my stomach ended up on his feet or the floor, or when I didn’t cook for 4 months straight. His prayers, hugs, wiping my tears, and understanding my moods kept me going when I questioned my body’s ability to support this child. My husband is a very private person when it comes to our family and he would never tell anyone all the things he’s done for us this year. But he has sacrificed a lot of opportunities for greater personal success to stay by our side during the day while working tirelessly through the night to make sure that both his wife and baby flourished. I know that this is what men should do, but so many don’t. They see the challenge and go the other way emotionally or even physically. I’m thankful that he didn’t. Anthony, you are the father I prayed my child would have. You aren’t afraid to say “I love you” and show your love. You are consistent and spontaneous. You are supportive and unselfish. You are gentle and strong. You are hard-working and humble. You are creative and controlled. We wouldn’t have survived this year without your love. You are an answer to my prayers and I know that the only person who will even come close to loving you as I do is our little Pumpkin. Happy 1st Father’s Day and thank you for loving us so well. The best is yet to come for us.