father's day Archives - The Jose Vilson

father’s day

It all starts with a broken heart, a disillusionment about the statues your youth asks you to revere.

I wasn’t supposed to tell you that, but it’s the truth. We who have ever felt this abandonment from our fathers went through stages of pain throughout our lives we never fully reconcile. We become victims of the ideal of a nuclear family, where the father provides the strength and grounded reason while the mother provides the emotion and the tenderness for this fantasy family. Those of us who only had our mothers around may have grown up to resent that sort of set up, even when we saw a plethora of examples where such a setup wasn’t a fantasy for anyone involved.

Then, we see we’re not alone. We’re OK with having been left, but not with the person who did the leaving … and the title bestowed upon that person.

For years, I held this resentment with me, and, no matter how much I saw him after I became a man, I couldn’t shake the idea that I missed out on all these life lessons from him, and that the void I felt for so much of my life was him. My mother never raised me to hate or show disrespect to the man, which I never did. I just felt like all my other friends who had fathers knew how to do cool guy stuff like drive a car, go to concerts, or talk to girls. As I got older, some of the awkwardness dissipated, but the feeling that I missed out stuck with me for longer than it should have.

Then, we got pregnant. Holy shit.

Outwardly, I had told people that we needed to redefine fatherhood, but inwardly, I didn’t know what that meant. The plethora of advice from present poured in first like a drip, then a waterfall. I put half of the advice in my back pocket, a quarter of it in my front pocket, and a handful in the trash (honestly). I read a lot, researched a lot, and contemplated a lot on the type of father I wanted to project. When I finally held him, I felt like God had prepared me for this role my entire life. I didn’t know what to do, and, for the first time, that helped.

It humbled me to no end. Cleaning your son’s poop at 2am in the morning will do that to anyone. As a matter of fact, by week one, he had already pooped, peed, and spit up all over me. In some schools, that’s called the Baby Trinity. I believed.

He’s changed my life immeasurably and I would never trade this for anything. When I was younger, I disliked Father’s Day because of the things I did not have. Recently, I’ve learned to love Father’s Day for the things I do. He’s put his little feet squarely in the holes in my heart, and I can feel them slowly healing.

Alejandro’s Father …

p.s. – Thanks to Luz for him. There is no Da-da without Mama.

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I called my father this morning, a rather unusual thing for me since our relationship doesn’t necessitate the usual banter and warmth that sitcoms project upon those of us who rarely see our fathers.

When I grew up, I revered my father, a man whose voice and charisma reassured his young son that he’d always be there even if he wasn’t there physically. Soon, I came to find out that he made similar promises to my brother who was 5 years my senior, my sister who was 6 months my senior, my brother who was 2 years my junior, my sister who was 4-5 years my junior, and a few others now scattered throughout NYC and Miami. I was fraught with confusion during my early childhood, but soon it grew into adolescent rage and virulent insecurity in my own person. My semi-annual phone calls or visits from him ranged from boring drop-offs to a new apartment with a new woman to promises often left unkept with an eventual empty-handed return home.

My mom did everything she possibly could to assure that I was on the right trajectory, but not without a few glitches. She couldn’t protect me from the mental scars my stepfather forged into my mind repeatedly. She couldn’t project that I actually had to learn social graces with the opposite sex, something my father did effortlessly. Not having my father there for me was only exacerbated by the fact that he had eight other children who may have felt the same way in varying degrees.

Yet, it’s because of those siblings that I found a way to let go of the pain left from that childhood. I can no more hang onto those memories than I can fault God for not keeping my parents under the same roof. It’s because of that struggle that I am the man I am today. It was almost like this higher spirit has been asking me to live and love passionately, and the first piece of that was letting go. I’m still learning, and the demons yell inside me more often than I would like, but I’m in a much better place than I was during my youth.

A big part of that was learning how to love myself, even as I look at the image of my father every time I look in the mirror.

The experience also gave me a perspective that I took into the classroom when no one else would accept some of the children into their spaces. They too gave me a perspective as to how to be a good father. As I’ve matured, I also had the opportunity to meet tons of positive men, and in their self-assurance, are also great fathers. They’ve all come from different walks of life, but they’re the best fathers they can be for their children. That’s what counts.

Now that I’m a future father, forgiveness and love are my primary objectives. I too forgive my father, even if he didn’t particularly ask to be forgiven. When I told him that he was going to be a grandfather again because of me, he nonchalantly said he was happy for me, and smiled in a way I felt over the phone.

Now that it’s going to be my turn, I know the best way for me to be there for him / her is to be the best me.

Jose, who wishes all the fathers a Happy Father’s Day …

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Father and Son Reading

Father and Son Reading

This holiday usually conjures up negative energies from my Black and Latino brethren. Stories of misplaced fathers, dual-role mothers, and accidental pregnancy loom in the periphery of our society’s ills. Today, however, I chose to remember those who we consider the exceptions when other cultures may consider them the norm. This is for the fathers who work ’til their limbs give out just to keep the lights on in the apartment. This is for the fathers who barely see their offspring not because they chose to leave but because they’re trying to find their way back home. This is for the fathers who take care of children that aren’t even theirs, but they inherited via occupation or circumstance. This is for the fathers who have no children, but provide inspiration to youth all across the nation. This is for the fathers who left their children too soon from passing onto another life but still look upon their children longing to reunite once more. This is for the fathers who understand the stereotype of father absenteeism, but scoff at the notion of leaving any child behind. In that sense, we have fathers in abundance.

And this is for the sons and daughters who, after truly knowing their fathers whether present or not, find it in their hearts to forgive and find love for their place in bringing you to this Earth. And because, as much as we try, we find a piece of our father’s within ourselves constantly …

Jose, who has tried to communicate with every father he knows, especially his own …

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