Fathers. What a controversial topic right? Most children grow up without fathers. Some grow up with really abusive fathers. Others have had to take over the father role because their own fathers were nursing hangovers most of the time. There are only a few lucky ones who were gifted with real, completely present fathers.
My father? A disciplinarian. A respectable, God fearing man. His daughters are his biggest pride, that much is clear. He’s been to every prize giving, every netball tournament, every athletics meeting and every choir performance. He even joined the school’s parents’ association. A friend of mine even went as far as calling him my ‘biggest fan’. Family members never miss the chance to remind my sister and I of how much our father loves us.
His pride. That’s who we are, my sister and I. That’s why we have to act accordingly. We cannot set a single foot out of line. His reputation lies in our hands. Our hard work is driven by that ‘well done’ at the end. We don’t get promises of a raise in our monthly allowances. We don’t get new phones or sneakers for straight A’s. It’s what we’re supposed to do. It’s our duty as daughters to never let our father down. His disappointment hits harder than the heaviest truck. It can have you in tears for weeks. So, we make sure to avoid it at all costs. We are our father’s pride.
However, often times, pride gives rise to unbearable pressure and so, respect turns into passive resentment. We end up envying those with absent fathers. Their fathers are physically and emotionally absent, and that is something I could never understand; I can only sympathise. I only understand the pain of having an emotionally absent father. He does all the right things. He shows up. Yet, he’s ignorant enough to believe that his physical presence is all that is necessary. We’re humans though, and humans are emotional beings. We need more than the material things.
Waking up on random morning and realising that you’ve never shared, ‘I love you’s’ with your own father hits you differently. You’re on your way to adulthood and realise that you don’t really understand what fatherly love feels like. Is it a roof over your head? Church every Sunday? Bicycle lessons? Driving lessons? Is that all it is? Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for everything my father has ever given to me. But a part of me wishes I could talk to my father about things like period pains, boy problems, or even something as small as exam stress. It bothers me that my own father doesn’t even know that I’m vegetarian. He doesn’t know that his daughters have gone through heartbreaks. He doesn’t know that his daughters suffer from social anxiety.
My father does a lot for us and we’re so grateful. We love him and we know he loves us in his own special way. We also know that we’re far beyond any emotional repair. Nothing can be done about our psychological relationship with our father. We are independent young women, and we have him to thank for that. We can only hope to one day give our own children the warmth we never received.
This was one of the commended entries in the My Father essay writing competition. Click here to read other excellent essays from the competition.