The last time my daughter saw her father was in 2014. She was going on five.
She had stopped asking about her father, she had stopped expecting gifts, she had stopped looking at the phone waiting for him to call. Until now.
A daughter would always love her father. I loved my dad. He could do no wrong. He was everything to me.
This is what I desire for my little girl. A relationship with her dad. But, this is not up to me.
As a mum, I can make many things happen. But, not this. Not a relationship with her dad.
The father-daughter cord cannot be broken.
But his unreliability over the years has dulled any excitement as to his re-ignited interest.
It is really hard to explain the reasons behind his sudden interest. But he is back it seems and I am happy for my girl.
We cannot tell if he is back for the long term. Or just till Christmas. We cannot tell what is provoking his sudden interest.
Perhaps, I should prepare her or perhaps I should be quiet and let her experience him?
Could he have changed?
Since their lunch a couple of days ago, he has called his daughter several times -more than in eight years combined.
At the lunch, she said very little. She is very chatty most times, but with him, it was a painful stare.
She must be angry with him.
I am not sure how to navigate this.
Perhaps, over time, her heart will melt. I was daddy’s girl. I so long for her to have a relationship with her dad – to be daddy’s girl.
Maybe, just maybe, it will happen now.
He just called.
I overheard the conversation. It was monotonous: “Yes”, “No”, “I am not sure”, “ok”. “Bye.”
She could have been talking to the postman.
When he arrived for lunch, he grabbed her and hugged her tightly. But she did not make any attempt to hug him back.
She sat uncomfortably and didn’t eat much. Neither did he.
I enjoyed the meal tremendously I must say!
Miracles do happen.
This was not a meeting I orchestrated. He wanted to see his daughter and he did.
There was no efforting on my side. I had done all I could to get him to visit or call his child in previous years but all of my overtures were rebuffed.
He did try to engage her in small talk but she could not remember him. Their last photo was dated 2014 according to google photos.
He reckoned he had visited after that. We could not find any proof to back that up.
Absentee fathers should remember that the damage they inflict on their children endures. When children are involved, it is no longer about both parents, but about the children.
My daughter was clearly traumatized, and I want to help her heal. I am not sure how to go about it.
I spent a decade angry at him.
Angry, bitter and stagnated because I could not forgive myself for getting involved with a man like him. Two years ago, I had to let it go.
My life started two years ago to be honest. That is another story I will tell some other day.
Anger was pointless.
Bitterness gave me ulcers.
It was time to move on.
For most of the lunch that lingered into the evening, even though I was there, he tried to paint the narrative that it was the mum who prevented him from seeing his daughter.
So she asked him about her birthday.
He could not remember when that was.
She reminded him that he called her on her birthday one time but didn’t wish her a happy birthday. He said he forgot.
She said: ” what about years 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, and 6?”
But she remembered and he apologized. Again and again.
Is his apology sufficient?
She asked if she could call him Mr….not dad. She said she didn’t feel comfortable calling him dad.
His face was red, mouth open. He stumbled through his words.
The African father in him wanted to dictate his terms to his twelve-year-old. But, she wasn’t having it. He backed down. I heard him say, ‘maybe over time you will call me dad’.
Absentee fathers is a thing in many communities.
These men think they are ‘dealing’ with the mothers by staying away. But every child deserves both their parents.
But, in reality, the children they left behind never forget.
Polygamy is a curse that runs in the DNA of most African men. I am unable to stop this trend but I can help my little girl adjust to the re-introduction of her old man.
I didn’t mean to write long. But, I am the parent who stayed. I get no medals. This is what mothers do. They show up for as long as it takes.
They do the school run, the after-school clubs, and dental and hospital appointments. And everything else.
My daughter’s loyalty is guaranteed. I don’t have to suffer her indifference.
She will be just fine. She comes from a long line of matriarchs.
Her father’s reentry into her life is brilliant. Whether or not he chooses to stay in her life, she will be just fine.
We will be just fine.
Tee Adeyemo is the Publisher of Ladies Corner Magazine.
She has a twelve years old daughter called Femi. She has never married and she hopes to adopt a cat in the near future.