It wasn't that long ago that I defined myself by the choices my biological father made to not be in my life. I went through my life as a victim of his choices. I carried that pain everyday with me like a ton of bricks slung on my shoulders. Every day, every night, I thought it was my cross to bear. So I carried it.
It was particularly hard for me around Father's Day. Each and every year, I dreaded the day. All it was, for me, was a reminder that I wasn't good enough for him. I imagined him on some throne, secretly scoffing at the idea of me ever thinking I was good enough to be in his life. I knew that every year on Father's Day, he was in town for a local community event. So I'd dress my very best and go up there and look for him. Sometimes I would catch him from afar, and just study him. I'd notice what he looked like, how he interacted, his mannerisms. A few times I'd test the situation by walking right by him. I think that I secretly hoped that he would notice me out of the corner of his eye, stop me and give me a big hug.
Looking back, that was foolish. Understandable, but foolish. Father's Day meant nothing to him because he didn't consider himself a father. I carried around all of this baggage, and on Father's Day in particular, huffed it around like it was a national day of mourning. It only caused me more pain and it solved nothing. For me, Father's Day was about him, but for him Father's Day was about nothing at all.
This year, I'm thinking about Father's Day differently than I ever have before. I've got a fresh outlook on Father's Day and what it means to me. Father's Day should be a time to celebrate fathers all over. It should also be a time to reach out to fathers that may need a little help. Often, fathers who have abandoned their children have something that is holding them back from being in their lives. Maybe your cousin doesn't connect with his child like he should. Could you talk to him to find out what's stopping him from being in his child's life? Maybe the solution is as easy as offering him a place to bring his kids for a few hours a week. Maybe your friend doesn't feel he has it together enough to be a father. Could you help to alleviate those concerns by speaking with him and helping him realize what he does have to offer?
Father's Day should also be a chance to reach out to fatherless sons that you may know. Do you have a nephew whose father abandoned him? Could you take him out to lunch? Are you close with a neighbor being raised by a single mom where you could stop by for a few minutes and talk? Such little effort and time can make true positive change in someone's life.
Ultimately, Father's Day is about celebrating fatherhood, whether the fathers themselves or those who lack fathers. We are all affected in some way by fatherhood, present or not. We must embrace both sides and offer whatever we can to help break the cycle. How will you spend Father's Day?
Kyle appeared on 'Oprah's Lifeclass presents Fatherless Sons' series, which aired in May on OWN. His song, A Letter 2 My Younger Self (Fatherless Sons), is available as a free download from www.reverbnation.com/kmacmusic and the video is available on YouTube. Sign the Stand Up, Man Up petition seeking to stop the spread of fatherless homes.