All I’ve ever wanted was to be enough for my family and for myself. It’s hard when you have so much weight to carry on your shoulders. I sometimes think to myself that being a man is so hard when you’ve got all eyes on you. The older you get, the more responsibilities fall in your lap and most cannot be rejected.
I’ve lived a life of constant worry … worry about being a good son, friend, boyfriend, husband, father, employee, you name it. People often overlook the struggles of a man because we’re supposed to be so strong. Strong for everyone else. There is never any room for us to take a break, request support from anyone else, or show signs of weakness. All of these thoughts have been culminating in my head recently, weighing heavy on my heart as I think about the most important people in my life. Did I do right by them?
My dear Kine, I know I have not measured up to be the best husband – the one you deserve. You’ve been there with me through thick and thin and I can only pray that God allows me to bring you the happiness, peace, and joy you deserve. We have been together for a long time now and you never strayed. I wish I could say the same – it kills me inside to know that I have stepped out on you and our marriage. It pains me even more to know you have forgiven me for that. I can’t look you in the eye – not the same way. I do not deserve you but you still love me the same. I promise to keep working on myself so one day, you can say that everything you’ve been through has not been in vain.
My Twin boys, at a time in my life when I wasn’t ready to be a father, God surprised me with you two. I remember the pit in my stomach when I found out the doctor announced that the pregnancy was with twins. A wave of emotions flushed through me – fear, excitement, anxiety, and even flight. We didn’t plan to have even one baby at the time, let alone two. But again, this was one of those responsibilities that couldn’t and shouldn’t be rejected. When you came into my life, I knew for the first time what it meant to be a man. I knew that the word selfish had to be thrown out the window. I could no longer *decide* whether or not I wanted to do right by you guys (a choice I messed up with your mother on more than one occasion). I had to do the right thing and the right thing was to love you, provide for you, teach you, and inculcate morals and values into you that would make you better men that I was. You’re almost “grown” now and it’s been a hard but rewarding journey to see you become good, young men. If there is one piece of advice I can give you, it’s to never take your anger out on those who did nothing to deserve it. Stay grounded and stay gentle.
Souhibou. You’re at a fragile age where you’re so malleable and I feel like I have a second chance to get this parenting thing right. You’re very stubborn – just like I was so I guess I can’t fault you. But it terrifies me to you see how similar you are to how I was at your age. It makes it more challenging and makes me wonder, “Is that what I put my parents through?” But you’re smart so I trust you will figure this thing called life out much better than I did. I trust your sense of humor will keep you from wallowing in the dark realities… I pray. Even though you’re young, I can see the potential for so much greatness in you. I don’t have favorites between you three boys but I sense a different connection with you. I know that God brought you into my life when I needed a reality call the most. I was taking so many things for granted and you re-purposed my life and gave it meaning. I immediately felt like I owed it to you, your brothers, and your mother to get my act together. Thank you for that.
My parents. May the soil of this cruel Earth be light and gentle over you. I had intentions of making you proud. I don’t know if I succeed – at least not while you were still here. I know I gave you both a hard time at certain junctions but I hope you know that I did not do anything with malice. I was just trying to find my place on this Earth and establish myself as my own man, not merely a surrogate for your choices. I haven’t succeeded in all areas of my life and I know if you were here, you’d be lecturing me about one thing or another, especially you Mom. But I have to be honest for a second and say I’ve done pretty decent for myself, especially given the amount of pressure you put on me and the not-so-exemplary choices you made… forgive me if that is not my place to say. I miss you both.
Dior. I am sorry for everything I put you through. I could blame it on being young and dumb but that blame only takes me so far. I failed you and I failed our love. We had something special and I know I didn’t fight for it as hard as I should have. And of course, with time, we both moved on from that but I can’t help but wonder if you think about me from time to time. I certainly think about you. I’m sorry for all the things my mother said to you and I’m sorry I didn’t stand up for you. I always hoped you would understand my situation, even though I never gave you the closure you needed. I don’t have your news but I hope you are living a life of happiness and success – you were always so bright…
Bamba. It’s been a long journey to who you are now. And it won’t get any easier. If anything, there will be more accountability. Don’t shy away from it. Embrace it and admit it when you make mistakes. Not just to yourself but to the people that matter. That’s one thing you always held a grudge about when it came to your own parents. You aren’t invincible and you’re not always right. Admit that to yourself and try to be a better person, husband, father any chance you get. Be humble.
We, men, are often called on for the difficult responsibilities in a family. We are the providers. In hospitals, we are the ones tough news is broken to because it’s assumed we can handle it. I always found that funny. Our emotional grounding is never given a second thought and that’s not okay. We have our own demons we are fighting and we can’t continue to be expected to be superheroes all the time, for all things. These nights, I stay awake thinking about all the times I wasn’t a superhero and I am sure I’m not the only man in the world kept at night by such thoughts. All we can do is try our best but let me tell you, it’s no easy feat…