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Dear Herschelle Gibbs, from a child that could have been more, if my dad had paid maintenance.

I get that you might not want to be a dad right now, or ever. I understand that it might seem overwhelming. And that you might not love your son’s mother. That this is not the season for you to be a dad. I get it all, and I don’t judge you for it.

However.

Even though you don’t want to be a part of your son’s life, or that of his mother, I feel it imperative that I speak out. You see, being raised by a single mom, I believe that had my father paid a monthly contribution to my upbringing, I maybe could have been more, achieved more, believed more, and perhaps even dared to dream a little more.

I never got to see my mom that much, she hardly ever made my weekly sports matches or attended my school functions, because while I was doing this, being a child, she was sitting behind a desk, working for a company that didn’t give much attention to families, or single moms.

She was doing her best to raise her children, pay their school fees, buy their school clothes and trying, trying to get food on the table. There was so much that she missed out on. As a mother I am now able to understand, and respect, the sacrifices she made. So that we could have all that she was able to give.

I remember having to be dropped off and picked up at school by other parents, the ones that seemed to have it altogether. I have no memory of my mom kissing me on the cheek as I walked into school. This was because she left home at 6:30 every morning and we were left to get ourselves going.

Every afternoon I walked into an empty house, and from a young age I clearly remember washing the breakfast dishes, taking out the garbage, and trying as best I could to clean the house. Just so that she didn’t have to when she walked in every evening, tired, carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. Trying to perk up and give us a smile. Mustering up the energy to ask how our day was.

I remember looking at my friends with envy. Listening to them talk about family holidays and days at the beach. Wondering why I wasn’t good enough, why my dad didn’t love me enough to somehow, even in a small way, contribute to my childhood. Why was it that I couldn’t spend a weekend camping, or a night at a restaurant pigging out on Pizza.

I had to embrace “hand-me-downs” (even though I now love these), I never got to buy that dress that sparkled in the mall window. Having to endure going to birthday parties with the same clothes that I wore to every party. Watching the children snicker and the pitiful faces of the parents who knew just how my mom battled.

I remember hearing the knock on the door and seeing the lady from church holding packages of food, just so that we could make it through the month. Oh, how far a few extra rands would go.

There are probably so many reasons as to why you don’t want to be involved, and I am not questioning you on that. I just know what it feels like to lie in bed at night, crying because I missed a man I didn’t know. A man that had an opportunity to give more of himself but chose not to.

I never knew what it was like to sit on my father’s lap, or to look into his eyes and have absolute trust that I was loved beyond measure. That I would be looked after, his priority. I don’t deny that it was probably difficult for him too. I’m past the blame. Now, I just feel pity. Pity for a man that could have experienced so much love, if he had just chosen to be a part of my life.

So many moments spent wishing, wondering what it would feel like to not want. I didn’t care if he didn’t love my mom. I just wanted him to love me.

I guess what I’m trying to say, not because I have a right to but because I feel compelled to, is that I don’t judge you, you obviously have your reasons. But from a young mom, who was once a child with dreams of being more, of being wanted, I implore you to be the hero that we all know you to be. Be the man that we as a country have watched, cheered for and believed in. Be that to your son, Herschelle, give him more. More than I had, more than so many other children will ever have.

Trust me, your son will forever remember the sacrifices you make.

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This post was originaly published on Parenty

12 Comments

  • Sarah-Marie Collins

    This is quite a heart breaking post. When you are a child the smallest moments can be so important. I can remember finally achieving my 50m swimming badge (I hated swimming so it was a big thing at the time) but my Mum was working and couldn’t come to see the presentation at school. She probably didn’t think much of it but I was devastated. It actually makes me feel quite sad thinking about it. That was such a small thing compared to the sacrifices your Mum has made but all those small things build up to become big things. #ItsOK

  • Josie - Me, Them and the Others

    I can so relate to this. I’ve forgiven my semi estranged father for everything apart from the financial hardship he put my Mum through. It’s not something I talk about because I worry people will judge me for making it all about money but at the end of the day, both she and I suffered because he didn’t pay her what he should have. #itsok

  • Joanna Melia

    What a great post. I guess I always thought kids wouldn’t miss what they’ve never had, but hopefully now families come in all sizes, so kids with single mothers will feel less like they are missing out. #ItsOK

  • Sophie Holmes

    I feel your pain. I don’t know my father either. I didn’t used to bother me as much as it does now. I’m guessing that’s because I’ve got kids of my own and my sons would be distraught if Daddy ever left. Such a lovely post and hopefully it gets Herschelle thinking. #ItsOK

  • Helen

    This post makes me so sad. I would love all absentee fathers to see this and understand the impact they have by taking themselves, their time and their money out of the picture. Your mum sounds like a fantastic woman. #ItsOK

  • Nicole - Tales from Mamaville

    Another beautifully penned post Jacqui. It must have brought back some unpleasant memories, but this needed to be written, and will hopefully be read by ‘those’ absconding fathers. A child’s early years are so influential, and so raw, it really is the little things that leave a big impact. #itsok

  • Anita Faulkner - Brazen Mummy Writes

    What a thought-provoking post, and so beautifully written. We are often told that money isn’t important and doesn’t affect happiness, but when you see it in these terms, you can see how it does. Children need our time, and if money is short then there is less time to spend with them. Thanks for opening your heart to us. #It’sOK

  • Charlotte Stein

    This must have been incredibly hard to write. Once you become a parent it’s really hard to understand how parents can be absent from a child’s life. My own father isn’t often around in my life and hasn’t been since I was a teenager. It’s him that’s losing out on being around a family #dreamteam

  • Tracey Carr

    It will always be the way that adults will completely underestimate just how much children are paying attention to what is going on. And how much their actions (and inactions) will impact on their lives. I try to never forget that when it comes to my daughters. It is a beautifully written and very thought-provoking piece #itsok

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