I remember the excitement I felt when I learned that my father will be visiting us.

Oh, man. I get a nostalgic feeling as I sit here. Those were very happy moments of the prospects of seeing this man I loved so much, but never really knew.

Equally, I remember the disappointment experienced as the sun set, and he did not make it. A heart-wrenching moment for me.

When he did make it, Papa would bring me those mixed fruit bags from Bara Taxi Rank. He hardly came empty-handed, and that’s why I looked forward to the visits.

Papa was cool. Every time he was around there would be a different kind of energy around the house. Other men around the community would come over cause there was always a nice vibe and free alcohol.

I would write him little love letters and hand them to him.

Sometimes, I would volunteer to go warm up his bed before he went to sleep so that when he is ready, the bed is as well.

Those moments were brief and did not happen often. I never quite remember if we ever engaged in conversations, and what they would be about. I just remember how cool and good looking he was.

Having him around made me feel complete, cause I knew my father was here and would protect me. And then on those days, he was not around, I felt bare, unsafe, and sometimes unloved.

And that was my pain. “Why does he not love me?”. Wondering this to myself for years saw me trample on my confidence, and carry thoughts of unworthiness right into my adult.

I am just glad I never went ‘searching for his love’ as I grew up, as this tends to lead girls and women to engage and commit themselves to guys that don’t care much for them. When all we ever wanted is a father’s love.

It’s an irreplaceable yearning, even in the presence of a strong, loving mother. That gap your father creates in a young girl’s heart is one that can only be bridged by him and forgiveness. I am learning to forgive; forgiving him for never staying. And forgiving myself for being stupid enough to keep waiting.

Not growing up around him is trickling into my own parenting journey. I am trying to right his wrongs, using my husband as a pawn in my own selfish pursuits.

The poor guy never even met my dad, but now he is being forced to pay for his sins.

This trauma has created a true passion for the role of the father in our lives because I know what the absence of one creates. Women are magical, but it takes more than just the female anatomy to re-create human life.

Children grow up and are successful, self-sufficient, and independent human beings even if they grew up fatherless. But the healing that had to happen to get here took work and time that our children should not need to put in.

I respect the strong single mothers who had no other option but to parent singlehandedly.

But if you have any other option, try and create a healthy co-parenting relationship for the sake of your children.

They will one day thank you for it.