You have fathered a child, now go and be a father.
This is not a men vs women thing. This is a healing thing. This is about your child and not your ego. No amount of finger-pointing will change the unmistakable fact that a child has been brought into this world. To make this about blame is to shift the focus away from the child. There is no answer that lies away from the child. The answer is the child and the child is the answer, for us to accomplish anything we cannot allow the two to be separated. This is about showing up.
Walking away is a privilege that most mothers will never know. They neither have the choice nor the luxury. They don’t get a rehearsal for motherhood, it is a fact of their existence from the very first day. If you choose to walk away from this child, you should know what you are turning your back on first. You should know what she is staying for. You should know what it feels like to live for two. To provide food and medicine without ever once failing; even when you have nothing left to give. To love and protect a child who society has decided to call ‘illegitimate’. To never allow them to question their own legitimacy because they are worthy. They are worthy of love. This is not a drill, this is parenting and it doesn’t have to be done alone. Before you walk out that door, I want you to know that you can still be a part of this.
You can still make this work. Co-parenting is not a myth, it can and has been done. It starts with you and the mother putting the child first. Ahead of your own relationship. Don’t choose your ego over your child, none of you should. Free yourself from the idea that the only way is a traditional family. Your family is who you choose. Choose your child. A blended family is not a broken family, it is a family that is bonded by love. There is no greater glue than intentional love, it is thicker than blood. Allow compassion to guide your friendship with the mother; you both want the same thing. It will take a massive effort, but if you try hard enough you can find a place inside you where forgiveness lives. Forgive each other. Be willing to learn, parenting isn’t something you are expected to figure out. It’s a path that will continue to lead you to discovery. Be a student.
If you pay enough attention, you will learn the difference between being present and being a presence. It has less to do with your money and more to do with your time. Money is something you have to earn, your time is something you can always give. Money can’t buy the things that your child needs to learn from you. If they don’t learn from you, they will absolutely learn from someone else. Their mind is an open canvas and it will accept whatever environment it is exposed to. If you don’t want them to be lost, then you’re going to need to be a conscious part of that environment. Show up because inspiration is a form of contribution. What I am trying to tell you is that being a presence in your child’s life has no price tag. Your value as a father is not determined by how much you earn, it is determined by how much you teach. Money can’t be the excuse for walking out, that would be missing the point entirely.
Being at the centre of another human being’s existence may sound scary, but you don’t have to go through this alone. Think for a moment about the mother of your child. She is trying to raise a child in a community that never gives her silence. Everybody wants to tell her how to raise this child. They call her a ‘single mother’ because they immediately assume that her looking for love is the same thing as her looking for a father to her children. As if she stopped being a woman the day she became a mother. She didn’t. She also didn’t stop being a human. She has to separate her own pain and suffering from her ability to parent. She has had to learn that help comes from within. Even though her own parents have been of great assistance, silence and independence are things she hopes to afford for herself one day. Imagine how much your support would help get her through all this. Despite your doubts and fears, what you both have in common is that you want what’s best for the child. That is more than enough reason for the two of you to become a team. To find a new way to love each other. Love is the ultimate foundation for your child’s happiness.
And finally, here’s to the men who stayed. The ones who proved themselves wrong. They separated their fears from their ego. They made fatherhood a choice, not a chance. They supported the mother of their children because it was the right thing to do, no matter how hard it was. The ones who became fathers to children whose blood they didn’t share. They have never left. They will wake up tomorrow morning and they will continue to figure out a way to make it work. It is because of them that we believe it can be done. We should never forget that they indeed exist. We can learn from them. We can do better.
And then to the mothers, who would do it all by themselves if they had to.