“Any fool can have a child. That doesn’t make you a father. It’s the courage to raise a child that makes you a father.”Barrack Obama
I had seen how my father sacrificed himself to go overseas and work for years just to put a roof over our heads and to provide our needs. As the youngest child, I had not seen him a lot of times during my formative years so when he settled back to the Philippines, I was not so close to him on our first few years together since I was only starting to know him more, unlike my other siblings.
But I knew that he was not just a competent provider but a great father to us. He was a caring soul who was just there silently but always had been supportive of all of us. He was usually quiet and just behind our Mom whenever it came to disciplining us. That, I thought, all fathers were the same.
When my brother got married and established his own family, I saw the same sacrifice my father did to us. My brother did everything for his family, and as a Filipino saying goes, even the food he is about to eat, he gives it to them if needed. His love and generosity to his family as a father are impressive.
As I became an adult and learned about things, life and society, I realized that my perception of who a father is; changed over time. The definition of a father to me now varies. Some are called as such because they have family and kids, others take care of their partner’s child as their own. Some guys got their girlfriends pregnant and took the responsibility to be a father even without marrying the woman. While some men are called “absent fathers”. They are those who the society often views as someone who has appeared to abandon their child. They may not live with the child or make an effort to see or bond with their child for several months or years.
I even met someone who was previously married but still keeps the full responsibility of being a father — he brings the kids to school daily, provides for them and spends time with them. Being a mother and a woman, that says a lot about the person and his character. A man should never cease his relationship with his kids just because of his past with their mother. They may have their differences and mistakes in the past, but the kids should never suffer.
We lost our parents 12 years apart — our mother in 2006 and our father in 2018. These are the experiences you can never move on; the grief is forever. Losing our mother first made us more responsible, but our father made us stronger and held our family together. So when we lost him, even being already adults, we still felt confused in our first few months as orphans. But we had to gather ourselves and live just like what our parents have taught us.
Being a parent is not for everyone; it is never a choice. Not all are given a chance to be parents most even go through rigorous procedures to have a child. A child is both a blessing and a responsibility that you can brush off because you are not into it.
It breaks my heart to know there are lots of parents, especially fathers that abandon their children. What do they think of a child? A punishment because it will stop them from being ‘happy-go-lucky’, no-responsibility guy? They should never even be called human for doing that. To have no emotions or compassion to the most vulnerable person in the world is absurd.
Cliche may it seems but, then again, nobody is perfect. More so of a mother or father. Anyone can procreate and have a child, but it takes courage, decency and responsibility to have the right to be called a parent. I can’t understand anyone being an absent parent — mother or father, and I guess I never will.