I don't remember what age I was specifically when I finally came to the realization that growing up without a father is OK. For years, I would wonder what I did, what my mom did, what my mom's side of the family did. However, I was a child and I didn't understand the complexities about grown-up relationships. Even more, I had no comprehension of race relations and how they would affect my family.
I am 22 years old and I am half white and half black. For 18 years of my life, I questioned why I wasn't good enough, why I wasn't worthy of having two parents who loved me equally. At some point though, and I have no idea how, but one day I stopped caring completely. I reflected on my life at the time. I was getting ready to go to college. I was healthy. I was happy in the sense that I knew who I was finally.
My mom is a warrior and a queen. In my opinion, she did a phenomenal job raising me. I grew up in a community where the majority of the population is white or Latino. I was one of the few black kids at my school, and I was probably the lightest. Sometimes I felt like I belonged nowhere because I was too dark to hang out with the white kids but too light to hang out with the minority children because the family I knew was white, I ultimately adopted their culture and their life, limiting me from learning about the other half of where I came from.
Culture is learned and shared from a young age. I was robbed of a culture I could have belonged to. It wasn't until college that I began to understand what it means to be black in America. Now, I am proud to represent both my African and Caucasian heritage, because before, I didn't even know where I came from.
Growing up fatherless is something no child should have to experience. I'm sure my mom didn't want that for me and I will not allow that to happen to my children. Everything about me, with the exception of my DNA, stems from my mom, her personality, and her energy. I am who I am because of my mom and as much as any young girl wants to grow up and be like her mom, a child needs her father too.
I was a tough kid, probably tougher than I am now even but I had to teach myself to be that way. In elementary school, every year we would celebrate holidays and my least favorite was Father's Day. When all the other children were sitting in a circle making Father's Day cards, I asked myself why my father didn't want to be a father to me. When I would go to events where it would be hard to see the action, I would be saddened when I would see the girl next to me on her father's shoulders, knowing I would never get that experience. I will never have my father walk me down the aisle to get married and that's OK. As I said, I've come to accept things as they are.
I never really asked my mom about why things were the way they were for many reasons. One, I wouldn't want my child asking me why their father isn't present in their life. Two, I didn't really want to know the truth because, in the end, the truth didn't justify anything and it meant nothing. My father knew I was alive and throughout my entire childhood, I met him twice. The final reason I didn't ask my mom about my dad much as a child is because I didn't want to make things harder than they already were. Raising a biracial child on your own is something no woman should have to struggle through.
At some age, my sadness about the situation turned to curiosity. When I was 18, my mom allowed me to reach out to my dad's side of the family. I knew I had siblings and I wanted to know if they were like me. Long story short, I'm unique. Of all my siblings, I'm the only one who is mixed race and I am the youngest. Learning about my family gave me a new perspective. I cherish the relationships I've developed with my brothers and I finally feel grounded in myself as an individual with multiple identities.
As for my father, I figure I made it this far in life without him. I experienced grave disappointment when it came to our relationship as a kid. Maybe one day, I'll be ready to let him into my life as more than an acquaintance. Maybe one day, I'll want to hear what happened years ago and what went south between him and my mom.
I hold no animosity towards anyone in this situation. Life is complicated and relationships can be sticky. I have healed from the pain and I have grown past those feeling of emptiness that lingered inside me for years. For years, my dad knew who I was and didn't want me. And maybe this will change in the future, but right now in my life, that feeling is mutual.