Fathers are like nuts: hard on the outside but very tender on the inside. We’ve grown up having to tell our fathers where we are going, who we are going to be with and at what time they should expect us back. You see, my father has had the un(enviable) opportunity of bringing up two daughters through and out of their teenage years. When I was younger, I found my father a bit too protective and intrusive. I really looked forward to getting out of the nest and now that I am all grown up, I want to brood for a while longer.
There are a few things we don’t get to choose in life: key among them being who our parents are and how they choose to bring us up. The experience of having (or not having) a parent can only be a single story. I like what Chimamanda says on single stories, “The single story creates stereotypes, and the
problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”
Overtime, I have formed stereotypes on fatherhood and men. For a long time, I believed that fathers (if not all men) could fix everything. I don’t remember a time when I asked my dad to fix something and he said he could not. Recently, my sister had a splinter of wood in her palm. I tried removing it and after failing, we turned to my dad who removed it in a few seconds. I also remember a time I was trying to open the zipper to one of my boots and it got stuck (If you want to develop claustrophobia, have one of your legs stuck in a tight leather boot). My dad as always was the superhero. In a few seconds, my toes were free. Apart from the father hat, my dad wears the electrician, plumber, carpenter, mason, policeman, alarm clock, cobbler, teacher, physician, chef and ‘ultimate superhero’ hats. There is a notion among most people that ladies get married to men who are like their fathers. This could be true because attraction tends to lean towards stereotypes made about family and fatherhood. However, I have come to accept the fact that my husband will never be like my father. I do not expect my future husband to be my superhero; my father already wears that hat. I’ll want him to be the superhero to our children and the husband to me. You see, despite the many times my father has saved the day, I have also seen him fail and struggle. It did not make me view my father as less of a superhero, it made me realize that he is human. Just as his sacrificial love made me understand God as Father, so did His shortcomings make me realize the supremacy of God.
Recently, I was animatedly describing to someone how protective my father is. “At least you know what protection is.” He told me. Having a loving father is like living in a fortified city during a war: it makes you feel safe; it is an untradeable privilege. Cheers to all men who take on fatherhood roles. You are a superhero to someone!