By Ken Hamilton
Niagara Gazette — Mothers Day is only two weeks away, fellows, and I am amazed by the conversations that I hear when mothers express what they want most for actually being mothers — and it isn’t cards, flowers or dinners.
It’s no big secret, and if you tearfully watch the newsreels — like the recent one that FOX Q-13 television of Seattle Wash., aired, where yet again another forward deployed soldier, sailor, airman or Marine surprises their young child in the kid’s classroom upon their return home, then you’ll know what it is — it is being good fathers to their children.
What the heck, we even see that on the Maury Povich Show; whereas, all that the mothers say that they want is for dude to step up and take loving care of the child that he fathered. It is not easy, but it is necessary.
But you know something? Men’s bodies don’t alter, we don’t have hormones that run through our veins, that causes us to be a bit screwy in our heads, or any of the changes through which a woman goes when she is carrying a child. Because we remain relatively stable throughout the process of childbirth, we can just love the baby “just because” it is a baby. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be our own child, and we can love that child, anyway.
One example was that of my father, he married my mom when she was carrying another man’s child. Together, they had four more children, and when my mother died, my mother’s first child was 10 years old. Her natural father, whom she did not know, came to reclaim the daughter that my father had loved and raised — but my father refused to let her go: He kept the family together.
Even though my mom died in February, my dad still gave her the greatest of Mothers Days that year — he loved and fathered a child that he didn’t sire. He was there for that child, her child, even when she could not have been there herself.
I have written about my own dear goddaughter on so many occasions. She calls me Poppy, because her religion doesn’t recognize godfathers. However, mine does, and like my dad, even though I did not sire that child, I love her as if she was my own.
Jilly is an adult now, and some time ago, I stopped by her house on the way to the radio studio and chatted with her before I began to back out of the driveway where she was standing. I stopped, blew my horn and drove forward again to tell her that, “You know Jilly, I have always told people that you are my goddaughter; but in reality, you are like my real daughter.”
Jilly smiled, gave me one of those acknowledging, feminine waves of the hand and said, “Oh, Poppy; I have been telling people that for years.” My heart flooded with joy.
My godson, though he was shot and killed when he was 14 years of age and then living with his mother and stepfather in Virginia Beach, had always told me that even though he knew his own father, he had always told his friends that his real father lived in Niagara Falls. That would be me.
I now have two fine, adult sons, of which I have been totally involved in their lives. However, before my marriage, after their birth and after the divorce, I have dated women who did have children — lots of women.
One such child was one who both spoke his first words and took his first steps around me. When he was a child, it so happened that he lived in an apartment near my goddaughter, and they became friends. I took him out to dinner a few months ago, and when I told him of what my goddaughter had said about her telling people that I was her father, he simply said, “I know.”
Of course, I wanted to know how he knew. He said that one day, when the two of them were outside playing, I stopped by to see my little girl. He said that when she saw me, she said to him, “There’s my father.”
I frowned, and then asked the now-young man, “What did you say?”
He said, “I told her that he was my father, too!”
While it might be hard to be a dad, and it does require sacrifice, I have found that it usually takes but about 15 minutes a day. Before I had kids of my own, there were a dozen or so neighborhood kids on my street, who, after work, I would go across the street and spend about 15 minutes playing with all of them — until they wore me out.
By the end of the summer, most of those kids would come on my porch where I was sitting, we would talk for a few minutes and they would say, “Kenny, I wish that you were my father.”
I would have to explain to them that they had a father who loved them very much, but I appreciated what they said. The times that I had with them, and the words that they said to me, helped me to be a better father to my own kids.
So fellas, when you are deciding what it is that you are going to get your own mother for Mothers Day, how about getting something special for the mothers of your own children; and that is by being a great and stable dad to them. It is a reflection of how your own mother raised you and it is the greatest Mothers Day present that any man can give.
Let the kids give your mother the cards, flowers and dinner — even if you have to pay for them yourselves.Contact Ken Hamilton at firstname.lastname@example.org.