Fathers and Fatherhood

By Uche Amunike

Very recently, Fathers Day was celebrated by the Anglican Communion. It was funny reading so many posts on social media where men complained that Fathers Day was always downplayed unlike Mothers Day that was celebrated with so much pomp and pageantry, every year and sometimes, even twice in a year. One question I haven’t stopped asking myself is ‘Why are mothers more preferred in most homes than fathers?

What are fathers not doing right? I came across some videos on TikTok where a couple would stand and their babies would be asked to run towards either their mum or dad, and hug them. 98% of those babies all headed towards their mothers and hugged them really tight. In all sincerity, Mothers Day receives more attention yearly and I’m guessing the reason is as clear as crystal.

Another truth is that there are fathers who work their heads off just to provide for the family and yet, are never appreciated either by their families or society at large.

It is about time we start finding out the reasons for such things and tackle them. It truly is misplaced and needs to be set right. While we are at that, I came across two beautiful articles written by two amazing men. I decided to share them with my teeming readers.

The first one is written by my younger brother, Mr Obinna Udeagha. He became a single father of two adorable girls after his wife died 2years ago. He is the Chief of Staff, Office of the Group CEO, Heirs Holdings, Ikoyi- Lagos. He captioned his article ‘Daddy All-Year Round: What it Really, Really Means’. He shares with us, what it has been like, taking care of his daughters and how happy they are, making life meaningful for one another. Please read:

DADDY ALL-YEAR ROUND: WHAT IT REALLY, REALLY MEANS’

For me, being a dad to 2 amazing daughters – Nata – 10years and Cheta – 2years – is the best feeling in the world. It does not matter that I am a single dad, and it goes beyond my daughters. Between my 17 Godchildren scattered all over the world and my 12 nieces and 9 nephews, I have my hands full.

Fatherhood means more to me than just the ability to have or father children. It is about being present in the lives of children, showing up and taking responsibilities to care, nurture, train and be supportive. These children do not necessarily have to be biologically yours. It is a lot of work but at the same time it is the greatest thing on earth, second only to finding the love of your life, of course.

The Highs and the Lows:

The high point for me was the birth of my daughters, especially when you consider all we went through to have them. Nata came 4 years after our marriage and Cheta, 8 years after Nata. We had to deal with a lot of societal pressure, countless tests and drugs, prayers and fasting, and at the end of it all, they came when God planned them.

I guess we were just fretting for nothing.

The low point for me is being a single dad. I lost my wife 3 weeks after she gave birth to Cheta. It has been tough playing the role of mother and father at the same time, but I am grateful for my dedicated support system – family and friends – that have made it much easier for me.

A big shout out to every single parent out there!

I love being in the lives of my children, guiding and nurturing them in the right ways to live. I have 7 siblings and that may have played a key part, especially since we are still a close-knit family. I wanted to share that joy with everyone, and it showed in my activities in church growing up – organising and leading Block Rosary crusades, Legion of Mary, as well as supporting the Basic Christian Community Centre around my neighbourhood.

On Being Vulnerable:

I want fathers and men in general to know that it is okay to feel vulnerable. It is okay to ask for help. Providing financially is not the hardest part of fatherhood; it is being there for them.

Be more supportive in the raising of children.

Support your partners more, not just financially but emotionally.

Connect with the children

Show that you care

Make them lean on you but also teach them to be stronger members of the society, passing on that love which they have received.

The second article is written by another amazing father, Mr Niyi Aderibigbe. He is the Head MCC, Transcorp Hotels PLC. In his article which he titled IT’S GREAT TO BE A DAD, he talks about how excited he was to witness the birth of his daughter and how beautiful he finds fatherhood. He also shows a resolve to be the best father to his children. Please read:

ITS GREAT TO BE A DAD

“Daddy, can I drive your car?”

Here’s another article on fatherhood. The writer captioned it ‘

“Daddy, how did you meet mummy?”

“Daddy, is it for parents?”

“Daddy, is that a pen? Do you want to write with it?”

“Daddy, why are you grumpy?”

I haven’t had to answer as many questions in my lifetime, but when my daughter asks you a question, you must answer.

For your peace.

She would not stop asking until she gets answers. Nothing prepares anyone for this; not the stories I have heard about fatherhood nor the lovely tips in the book Priscilla gave me when she found out that my wife was pregnant.

Well, truth be told, I didn’t finish reading the book. I scoffed at the idea that some guys, who knew nothing about fatherhood on this side of the world, were telling me how to be a father.

Sorry, Priscilla; you are a good friend and it’s the gesture that counts (covers face)

THE DAY DADDY’S GIRL ARRIVED

I got a phone call while driving to work on April 12, 2019. My wife was in labour. She had been all night but did not want to bother me since the earliest I could get to Abuja from Lagos was the next morning. I was miffed that she did not tell me early. I would have been on a 7 am flight. Here I was on the third mainland bridge at 6:40 am, booking the next available flight to Abuja.

I had always wanted to witness the delivery of my first child, and now I was going to miss it, because if she laboured all night, how would I ever get there in time?

I arrived at the hospital at about 2 pm and the baby had not come. My wife barked orders about getting the doctor, not standing around, or the other ones I couldn’t make out. I understood. She had gone through the pain of labour all night and the baby had refused to come.

Less than one hour after I got to the hospital, we were already smiling and congratulatory wishes were flying around. Everyone agreed that the baby was only waiting for me to witness her delivery, just the way I wanted.

Our bond has grown stronger ever since.

I have enjoyed every part of the process, especially the part that calls me to a higher level of responsibility in speaking up for the girl child and fighting for gender equality.

I am blessed to have great examples of ladies doing well for themselves around me; it’s reassuring to see that the world is getting better for the girl child. She’s more heard and she’s doing more. She’s breaking barriers and achieving her goals, despite how difficult some people of my gender tend to make it.

Having a daughter has also made me more conscious about how I treat women around me. I’m her first experience of relating with a man. I had better show her how well she deserves to be treated.

My Pledge:

Fatherhood is one of the best things that has happened to me. I’m learning every day to become a better version of myself, not just for myself, but also for the young innocent girl who looks up to me and believes I am a model for men. So, I’ll keep doing better.

Maybe there is a thing or two to learn from the book Priscilla got me after all.

I’m hoping that you enjoyed both articles as much as I did. My advice however to every father out there who is struggling to make life enjoyable for their families, is to ensure that while you provide for them, you also create a bond that will draw you very close to them.

Fathers like Obinna Udeagha and Niyi Aderibigbe will always be loved and treasured by their children. Did you just ask why? It’s because  they have taken their time to create an unbreakable bond between themselves and their children. I believe that bond is what makes the difference. Emotional attachments are priceless. Don’t just be a father. Be a loving and lovable one. Daalu nu!!!