Raised By My Mama
Commentary , Teakisha Britton
Oct 13, 2009
Editor's Note: Approximately 84% of custodial parents are mothers, which indicates many single mothers in the U.S are raising kids primarily on their own. Teakisha Britton and her sister grew up without a father figure in their lives. Teakisha reflects on this absence and on how her relationship with her father evolved over the years. Teakisha Britton, 18, is an intern with the Changing The Odds multimedia training program at YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia.
Since I was two-years-old, I didn’t have a father. Technically, those first two years don't even count because I was too young to remember.
My sister and I both grew up without our fathers. Although I knew of my father, he was never there when I needed him. What hurt me the most was that I didn't have a father around to tell me he loved me every night.
There was someone there for me from the start, and that person was my mother. I love my mother so much, even though we've had hard times with each other.
As I got older, I really wanted a father figure in my life, but I knew that I couldn’t force my dad into taking on that role. My previous attempts at doing so had never been successful.
My mom told me not to worry because she would always be there for me. Still, sometimes I really wanted a family with two parents- especially when special holidays like Father’s Day or Father and Daughter day came around. On those holidays, I felt really emotional about not having a father to share those special days with.
My older sister barely saw her dad. The few times she did see him, he just gave her some chump change, like a ten-dollar bill.
When my sister was 16-years-old, her dad asked her to split the money with his wife’s daughter. She split the money, but deep down, she couldn’t help but wonder why. My sister always wondered about why her father wouldn't try to get in touch with her.
I didn’t have the answer to her question because my father wasn’t around much, either. My mother struggled to take care of all her children by herself. Every year, when school started, my mom struggled to buy some new clothes for us. She didn’t even worry about getting anything for herself.
My mother always made sure there was a lot of food to eat during the holidays because she loved to cook. She made sure we always ate; I can’t remember a time when I went hungry. Our house was always clean and we had everything we wanted.
My mother use to say she was both our mother and our father, so we wouldn’t feel like we’re missing out without fathers around. That made my sister and I feel a little better. However, we couldn’t help but wonder if we were the reasons why absent fathers didn’t want to be around more.
These days, my relationship with my father is okay. We’ve gotten a lot closer, in terms of talking to each other. When we first start talking in October 2008, I wasn’t quite healed from the experience of growing up without a father around. But I’ve learned to forgive instead of holding the type of grudge that would prevent me from developing a relationship with my father. My mom doesn’t want to have anything to do with my father, for reasons I’m not quite certain about.
My sister's relationship with her father has improved as well. He is making more of an effort to be there for her. I can tell she’s happy.
Over the years, there are many things that my father and my sister's father missed out on, such as graduations, prom, and watching us grow up. Even though our fathers are around now, there’s a lot of catching up to do. Still, I’m glad not having a father didn’t stop me from being the best women and sister I can be.