Back on Father’s Day 2011 I wrote an article entitled, “Mother’s Day doesn’t come with a disclaimer, so STOP doing it on Father’s Day,” and now I’m back this Mother’s Day to acknowledge three fathers who have raised and/or are raising their child(ren) and have provided and/or are providing the majority of care for their little one(s).
The first two fathers I’ll have to mention only by example, because I don’t have permission from them to use their names and/or photos in this article, and I don’t want to disrespect their privacy.
One of these men, let’s call him Corbett, is the father of a very good friend of mine from my high school days. All Corbett’s children are grown and gone, and most of them have children of their own, but I remember how involved and active Corbett was in the lives of my good friend and her sister. I would visit or spend the night with my friend, and Corbett would interact with us, talk with us and share life lessons with us. It helped that he was a teacher, because Corbett could spend quality time with his girls, and he definitely did just that. Corbett married and had other children, but before there was another woman in his life, his two daughters from a previous relationship were his priorities.
Let me just finish my story of Corbett with this… We were out of high school and college before I even knew my good friend’s mother was actually alive and lived near us. For many years, I was under the impression that Corbett was so devoted to his girls because their birth mother had died. It was a great shock to find out that she wasn’t, and it caused me to have even more respect for Corbett.
The second man I want to tell you about, let’s call him Maximus, I met through an online dating service. We actually hit it off, but the relationship didn’t go anywhere because he worked crazy hours. Plus, get this, Maximus was raising four children, all under the age of ten, on his own. Maximus’ oldest is a boy, then there are twin girls and the youngest is another son. According to Maximus, his wife just decided that she didn’t want to be a mother anymore, and she walked out of their lives forever. Maximus told me he had no idea where she was, and he and the children hadn’t heard from her since his youngest was still in diapers. She walked out when the oldest son was about four.
Maximus is not only devoted to his own children, he made a decision not to allow his situation to interfere with the time he gave to other children. When his [I-guess-she’s-now] ex wife walked out, he was coaching two youth basketball teams, and he continued to do so. He told me he would put all four on his children in their car seats, strap them into the minivan and take them all to the basketball practices and games with him.
Can you imagine having four children in car seats at the same time? Whew!
Maximus’ mother and sister live in the area, but the children live with Maximus full-time, even though his mother and sister help out. He told me that his sister wanted to take the girls to live with her, but he said it was out of the question for him. Maximus reasoned that his girls had already been abandoned by their mother. How would they feel to know he kept his sons but sent them away to live with an aunt? He told me he wants all his children with him.
Maximus does his daughters’ hair, helps all the children with their homework, and he is actively involved in what’s going on in their lives. I asked him if he ever wishes his life was different. He told me life without his children wasn’t a life worth living. I have nothing but respect for this man doing it mostly on his own.
Lastly, there’s my brother, Tyrone Ryncarz, whom I mention here by first and last name, because he gave me permission to gush about him to y’all. 😀
We have different last names, because Tyrone didn’t become my brother until he was in high school and he came to live with my parents. By this time, I was out of the house and in college. Tyrone was friends and played sports (baseball, football and wrestling) with my little brother, and my daddy coached their football team.
Tyrone is the custodial parent of my nephew, Shawn. Although Shawn’s mother is involved in his life, my brother, Tyrone, provides Shawn’s primary care on a daily basis. Tyrone cooks for Shawn, buys the majority of Shawn’s clothes and toys, and it’s Tyrone who helps with the homework most nights and stays up with Shawn when he’s sick. It is Tyrone that gets Shawn to and from school and all Shawn’s other activities.
Tyrone’s mother was pretty much his sole source of support until he came to live with our family. Tyrone’s father was around but absent, which is why when Tyrone’s mother needed help my parents stepped in and took over the responsibility of making sure Tyrone had the things that parents provide their children.
I mention the fact that Tyrone’s birth father wasn’t around, because I want you to understand that Tyrone made a choice not to be an absentee father who sends a child support check when Tyrone and his ex-wife got divorced. He put on his big-boy boxers and became the daddy that his father wasn’t.
I love my brother and my nephew, and I’m glad God brought them into our family.
Let me conclude by saying that it is true that there are many fathers who aren’t involved in their children’s lives, but let’s not forget that there are many mothers who are equally culpable for shirking their parental responsibilities.
I find it irksome that African-American men seem to get a disproportionate amount of the bad rap for abandoning their children.
Just FYI, all three of the men I mention in this article are African-American fathers, so don’t lump them into that category of dead-beat dads when you’re generalizing.
Happy Mother’s Day, Tyrone, and all the other fathers who are holding it down when the mothers of their children aren’t around.