For the first twelve years of my life I thought someone else was my father and he wasn’t around much. Looking back, he probably put two and two together and realized that he was not my father and instead of being cruel and telling me that I am not your father, he quietly faded from the picture.

I knew that the man who really was my father was my mother’s former boyfriend and that they were still friends. He would come in from time to time and give me money and take me to eat something and try to have a conversation with me. I never thought of any of that. I was telling myself that this man is really nice.

In 1982, one day in December I don’t know the exact day, but it was very close to Christmas, I walked through the back door of my house and went into the kitchen and saw my mother and her ex-boyfriend talking. He said hello, he looked at me and smiled and my mother told me to go get in my Christmas stocking, I walked into my room and I looked in my sock inside there was a hundred dollar bill and a Sony walkman. I left my room and went back to the kitchen, gave him a hug and thanked him.

He looked me straight in the eye and said, “So when did you find out that I was your father?” I told him that I still don’t know who my father is. He took me by the hand and led me to my room. We both stood in the mirror and said: don’t we look alike? I said no, he said take a look. My mother came into the room with us and they both sat next to me and began to explain the details that led up to that day.

After the long talk we had, he gave me his number and told me to call him anytime. It took me a while but I finally called. I spoke to him from time to time until one day I called and his phone number was disconnected and I didn’t hear from him for about five months, which really infuriated me. Her fillings and abandon rushed over me like a quarterback being attacked.

On Thanksgiving 1983 my father stopped by my grandmother’s house with his two daughters and introduced them to me and the rest of my family who was at my grandmother’s house for dinner. We all sat around the dining room table and after my uncle blessed the food, he looked at my mother and said, “Why does Cleo’s youngest daughter look exactly like Sheronda?” My mother said “Cleo is Sheronda’s father” and Cleo said “Children’s wives can keep secrets, can’t they?” They all laughed and began to eat, talk, and enjoy each other’s company.

When they were leaving, my father apologized for being out of touch for five months and said it would never happen again. The following month, my father and two sisters came to my grandmother’s house for Christmas. He told me to find my coat and took me to his mother’s house. I met his wife, his nine sisters and brothers, and most of his children. I remember feeling like I was on display, everyone commented on how I looked to him and his youngest daughter Nikki and how beautiful she was. It was at that very moment that I felt comfortable and complete.

Over the years, I was able to form a strong and loving relationship with my father and his side of the family. No, it wasn’t easy, but nothing in life worthwhile is. I am a reflection of these events in my life because I lost my father on December 16, 2009 and this is the second man I have lost who has dedicated his life to showing me that I am powerful and that I deserve respect. The first man was my grandfather who was there from my birth until he passed away on February 8, 1998.

What I’m saying is that children need men and women in their lives that they can count on. Men, you shouldn’t have the choice of whether or not to be in your children’s lives. Children are a gift from the Creator, not a sweater that you can return because you don’t like it. You must take care of the children you have before you take care of someone else’s children. You should not decide whether you are going to be in your children’s lives based on the relationship you have with their mother.

If you can’t get along with co-parenting your children together, you can ask a neutral party to facilitate visitation. Remember that this should be your last option, because if children find that their parents are not getting along, they can easily take advantage of it.

Women should stop making decisions about whether their son can see his father because they are angry with them or because they have done it wrong. The only way a man should be denied visits with his children is if they are a danger to his children, not if they cheated on you.

If a man has children from previous relationships, this is a way to know if he is a good father or not if you had a child with him. If you are doing more for your son than they are, this is a huge indication that you are not a good father (you must be there to help the man maintain relationships with his children so that they will not do his job as a father). If a man blames everyone for not spending time with his children, what does that say about that man’s willingness to be a good father?

It is up to us as mothers, ladies, we must unite to form a united front, remember that there are three sides of each story, yours, yours and the truth. In other words, keep an open mind, you are only hearing half the story and when you are working half the story, you are working half the truth and that never works. So remember to always have the best interest of the child in mind and everything else will fall into place.

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