The day was Friday the 13th. This day is usually considered a day of bad luck. I don’t believe in luck or misfortune but this wasn’t a day of celebration. Here I stood in Divorce Court with a judge certifying the end of an 8 year marriage. A plethora of thoughts passed through my mind. How can I work and take care of a house on my own and still have time to always be there for my sons? Will my sons call another man “daddy”? Will my sons loose respect for me because I’m no longer with their mother?
Divorce leaves a bitter taste in both parties’ mouth, but my primary focus was my title “father”. Prior to my divorce, I was required to attend a post divorce parenting class. Many of the issues that were discussed didn’t pertain to me. My battle was not looking like a quitter or deserter. Naturally, I was bitter about not having my complete family and deep down I guess I had deep resentment for my sons’ mother. Whenever they mentioned her name I wanted to slap her name out of their mom (mature, huh?). You know how many men sit in the barbershop and spew venom on their children’s mother? I didn’t do that in particular but if someone asked about her I’d give an open book facial expression. If she’d tried to talk to me about issues with the children, I’d walk off thinking, “I got them handled at my house, you need to man up”. When my sons’ had homecoming games for their football team I’d walk out with my sons but quickly avoid the picture or I’d take the picture with their mom in it but purposely ensure that it was obviously NOT a family picture.
I wanted so badly to be an active father for my sons and to be an example of a good, if not great man to them before they were born. Now here I am with an obvious obstacle in my way to hamper my life-long goal of being a good father. Growing up my father was in my household but he wasn’t “there” for the little things that mattered most to me. I also remembered how much it bothered me that my mother cried many nights over my father. I actually began to learn the nights she cried were an extension of the days I cried inside. My vow was to never have my children feeling this way. Now here I am on Friday the 13th about to permanently be out of my sons’ household everyday. I went to my house that night I cried with the exact intensity I did when my mom died a few years earlier. I realized that my divorce from a woman was also divorcing my sons in a small degree in mind.
This sadness turned into intense anger, causing me not to focus on my ultimate desire of being a great father. Simple conversations with the mother of my sons turned into me purposely being difficult. Even when she felt we were working together for the best of our children, I wanted to create ways to be difficult. I was better off then many divorced fathers due to having truly shared custody. My sons stayed with her on Monday and Tuesday, with me on Wednesday and Thursday and then we rotated weekends. My feelings were, “hell this isn’t everyday’. I want to hug my sons everyday and see them off every morning. Then things got worst. My ex-wife informed me that she was getting married again. “What? Have you lost your damn mind”?
Now my sons aren’t with me everyday and now she’s bringing another man around them everyday. I admit after her wedding I begin to almost breed disrespect into my sons to spit on the new “step-daddy”. My thoughts were “my children don’t need a step-father; I’m a dad’s father! Then it happened, I listened to Minister Louis Farrakhan’s lecture “Where Would We Be Without Pain”. He spoke so deeply about how our forefathers’ pain of slavery and how their pains were turned into producing greater men and blessings that we use to this date.
Then I opened the bible and there it was St. John 13:15, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you”. There it was, this whole time I wanted to be a good example to my sons of a good man who respected people, the word of God and the uplifting of his people. Here I was a follower of Minister Farrakhan not representing the teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. The Fruit of Islam (F.O.I.) are civilized and well disciplined men and I wasn’t acting fully civilized. In fact, I was quite child like. I realized, I follow a man who was being continuously ridiculed, hated and rarely loved by the world but he was always a great example for me. Who was I to not strive to be the best man I can be? Although I never “openly” disrespected my sons’ mother, I immediately changed my overall disposition in and out of her presence. I worked jointly with her and supported her word with them, likewise she continued and increasingly supported my fatherly discipline as they began to experience those male growing pains.
Now my sons live with me and I raise them in a single-parent household. How many fathers get to raise their sons “in” their household and having a supportive and productive parental relationship with their child’s mother? Their mother didn’t pass my sons on to me or drop them off on me; it was a mutual agreement among their mother, my sons and me. It speaks to more of who Allah (God) has allowed us all to see collectively. We live in a world where the open enemy is attacking our young black boys, and with Allah’s permission this family (mother, father and children) although not under one roof, we are united together. The school can’t call one parent without receiving a follow-up call or note from the other. She takes the treats to school and I make the surprise visits (counseling and guidance). When the teacher calls to say, “your son has been misbehaving today”, their mother replies, “why don’t you have him call his father”. The teacher usually says, ‘father?” and again it re-enforces that this is one unified family helping to raise the child. “Those who believe and do good, they are the best creatures” Hoy Quran, Surah 98:7.
Getting to this point did not come overnight but it started with me addressing and correcting myself. Min. Farrakhan teaches us “self-improvement is the basis for community development”. One cannot improve the community without improving the family. Men, if you are single and/or divorced with your child living under their mother’s roof or under your roof, please remember your actions with raising the children are being recorded by those precious minds that you and her helped produce. Rise above emotions and do what is best for the child. In divorce and break-ups both parties are at fault to a degree but that is not the child’s problem but your mannerisms, character and example will be the solution. We can’t be fighting in a burning house; the open enemy wants to use every tactic to destroy our future, the children. UNITED, WE WILL NOT LOOSE OUR FUTURE!
Peace, Love and Power,
Reuben “real thoughts” Muhammad, Poet