Sunday, June 21, 2015

From The Heart of a Daddy's Girl

Originally written for Women Healing Women it seemed most appropriate to share this article in a space that is driven by and for love. This is especially for all the adult daughters out there missing their Dads this Father's day.  

The Evans Family (L-R: Imani (me), Montsho (my brother), Renee Evans (my mom), and Rodell Evans (my Dad)

My dad and I were best buds growing up and remained so until his death in 1990. I certainly had a dichotomous relationship with my dad, who was the source of some of my pain as a child. However, my mind split the experience into tragedy and triumph in order to survive the pain and enjoy the part that worked. This is not uncommon for survivors and I am sure it will resonate for many of you.
My dad was super smart, well read and well-traveled. He taught me to question everything and to always be able to defend my intellectual position. He would engage me in debates, even when he agreed with me, just to ensure that I could effectively argue my point. Gosh, do I have some exes who would love to "thank" him for that one. LOL

I remember one day telling my dad that some boy said I was pretty. He looked at me with a very serious expression and said, "He's right. So what? Never be that impressed with that because you are so much more than pretty and he should admire you for all of it. Besides…boys will say anything to get what they want." And it was just understood that "what they wanted" meant sex. I appreciate my dad for that lesson because I have made everyone rise to that occasion because I internalized his words at age 13. It took me a while to bear fruit from that wisdom but the seed was planted right then.

This is an example of why dads are so critical to girls. They help us develop self-esteem with a balance of our masculine and feminine energy. Dads can leave a mark on his daughter's self-esteem that can carry her forward. He can help her turn inward for validation instead of looking for love in all the wrong places. 

My dad was not perfect, but none of that changed that he was my dad. I loved him...flaws and all. The day he died in Newark Beth Israel Hospital, a piece of my innocence died too. I miss him to this day and will think of him, specifically, on Father's Day--Rodell Evans. 

What I miss about my dad:
  • I miss being able to pick up the phone and share revelations about the mundane: Like an interestingly shaped tree, or something cool I learned about birds. My dad was fascinated with these things as much as I was...or least he pretended for my sake :-).
  • I miss celebrating big life events with him. When my dad was dying in the hospital I looked at him with all those tubes going into every orifice of his body and said, "Daddy, you gotta fight so that you can see my children when I have them." He looked at me with eyes of sadness and conviction; he slowly shook his head no--as if to apologize and answer me at the same time. I began to cry immediately because I knew he was tired and I had to accept his desire to stop struggling. My love had to be bigger than my selfishness to keep him with me.
  • I miss having a male honor my own sense of masculinity. We all embody the feminine and masculine principle. While my outward expression is without doubt feminine--which I love--I also enjoy my masculine side. My father appreciated that in me and didn't seek to make my "girlness" about ponytails and cooking classes. I loved that about him.
What I learned from my dad:
  • I learned that my intellect is as much my shine as is anything about my physical. 
  • I learned that learning should not be driven by the need for a degree or a credential, but rather it must be driven by the thirst for knowledge as a personal achievement.
  • I learned that to have friends all I need to do is focus on being a good friend.
  • I learned that no matter how many years pass, I will always miss my daddy and that my life has to find a new normal. 
To all the Dads out there--- make no mistake that your daughter needs you!
"Studies show that dads give girls 90% of their self-esteem before the age of 12, she says."What this means is that girls that grow up without a dad in the home, or one who abandoned them, are always going to be a little bit less confident and sure of themselves than peers who grow up with a dad in the home."  National Parents Organization
Happy Father's day to all the men and women who have stepped into the role of Father for you child/children. Whether you are an uncle, step dad, family friend or mentor. You will never truly know how important you have been. However, I thank you and honor you today and forever!

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Nya Akoma,
Imani Evans, MA
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