Be a Father Anyway

I am blessed.

I recognize and acknowledge that.

I am the father of 2 beautiful, healthy kids and 1 angel baby. And as I stand in the sunshine of my 2 little ones, I can still feel the chill of our loss. The heaviness of the storm that swallowed us whole. I'll admit that recognizing how blessed I am, even at that time, wasn't easy. After my wife and I lost Cadence we were devastated, crushed, hollowed, and a bunch of other adjectives. I had spent the better part of 8 months preparing to be the father of a baby girl that I would raise to be a phenomenal woman. I was ready. I was excited.

And then I was broken. 

It was so sudden and unexpected. But it was our new reality. And even with the emptiness, the fact remained that I was a father. There was nothing anyone could tell me to dispute that. Cadence was physically gone, but I was (and am) her father. 

At some point, through the fog of despair, I made the decision that I had to use that energy. I had to make sure that everything that I had prepared for wasn't wasted. I realized that just because I couldn't pour into Cadence, I was still full and there were many vessels that needed filling. There were kids that needed to see a strong, educated, Black man persevering. There were men that needed to see a husband, shattered in pieces, fight to be strong for his wife. There were fathers that needed to see my pain to realize how blessed they were. 

Fatherhood for me was a badge of honor. And I wore it everywhere. I had to make sure that the same love and compassion that I had stored up for Cadence was on display and accessible for anyone that needed it. It wasn't about the void of mine that existed, it was about the voice for others that didn't. It was about being the father that God had prepared me to be...anyway.

The reality of right now is that our kids are lost. Our kids are neglected. Our kids are forgotten. And, yes, they are all OUR kids. Their future depends on us, and our future depends on them. They need fathers. They need us. Men who are prepared to lead, teach, mold, and protect. Men who are willing to be vulnerable. Men who have been groomed by nature to nurture. Whether it's your niece, nephew, a mentee, or just a random child sitting next to you on the bus. Be conscious of the fact that they may need to see what a real man looks like. They may need to know how a real man acts and interacts. They may need to witness and be comforted by the type of love that only a father can provide. That's especially true in cities like Chicago, where the youth are crying out for affection.

Today, and every day that follows, I challenge you to tap into your reserves. Pour into those that need it. Be a light. It doesn't matter if it's your child biologically. If they are lost, be their compass. If they are unaware, share your intelligence. If they are scared, be a refuge. If they are empty, be a source of substance.

Be a father, anyway.  

 

I'm a Husband and a Father, but I'm Not Helpful

 

Fact: My wife is Superwoman.

Also Fact: Women, en masse, have super powers. They possess a strength and resolve that can only be described as superhuman.

As a society, I don't think we recognize and acknowledge those facts nearly as often as we should. In general. But when it comes to parenting, I think women are considered the go-to, primary figures. Held with the highest regard and, in most cases,  rightfully so.

The default thinking seems to be that if there is a man around, he's pretty hands off at best and an additional dependent at worst. Fact: That is the unfortunate truth/reality in some households. It is not, however, the reality of mine.

I am a husband. And I am a father. Two roles I don't take lightly. If there are mouths that need to be fed, I cook. If there are clothes that need to be cleaned or folded or put away, I clean, fold, and put away. If dishes are dirty, I wash them. Now, I will admit...there are some things that I am physically incapable of doing (breastfeeding our daughter) and some things that I'm just not great at (managing our finances). That is what marriage is. It's a partnership. It's creating balance with each other and for each other. 

Even with a decent track record of being a decent partner, there are still moments when my wife thanks me for "helping out with the dishes". And I have to constantly remind her that I did not help with the dishes. I just did them. Because they were dirty. And that's just with something as mundane as dishes. So you can imagine how much it bothers me when people acknowledge "how helpful I am with my kids". 

I am a father. I repeat. I. Am. A. Father. I have kids. With my wife, aka my partner. I do not help her with our kids. I father my kids. Because that is my job. I am not claiming to be the best dad or the best partner. And I'm not saying I don't appreciate the occasional pat of the back. I am saying that I am not helpful. I am just doing what I am supposed to do. I am sharing the responsibilities of marriage and parenthood. 

A Letter From Cadence's Mom - July 20th, 2016

      A year ago today we launched The Perfect Cadence.  Thanks to your help and support, we have been able to accomplish so much this year! We have thrown baby showers for seven new moms, hosted a free pop up shop where moms came and "shopped" for awesome baby items, and we have gifted over 10 moms with new baby welcome kits and other new baby essentials. We also welcomed Cadence's little brother last year and we are witnessing first hand the joy he brings to the world. Indeed, it has been a full (and fulfilling!) year. 

      Today also marks two years since George and I got the news that would forever change us.  I remember a lot about that day, though I don't reflect on those memories often.  I remember buying Cadence pink and green ruffled socks minutes before my ultrasound. I remember the panicked look on the ultrasound tech's face when she couldn't find Cadence's heartbeat. I remember the strange doctor who I had never met grabbing my leg and telling me she was gone.  I remember the same doctor later explaining that I would be induced to deliver her.  I remember the look of absolute horror on my husband's face as he explained between tears to the doctor that there had to be some mistake, because just two days earlier we had an appointment and she was just fine.  I remember the moment when I delivered her and remember vividly the doctor saying "she is absolutely perfect", and she was.  She looked just like her dad and if you didn't know that she had no heartbeat, you could look at her and think she was just a perfect little baby that was asleep.  And I remember not wanting to send her away with the nurses, knowing I would never see her again. 

      I remember asking how this could happen and never getting an answer.  One thing I don't remember is asking "why us?"  At that point in life my favorite grandmother, who was a saint in my eyes, was suffering from dementia and didn't even know my name; my best friend had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, and we had recently buried my mother-in-law just three months after she was diagnosed with Leukemia.  I had come to accept that bad things happen to good people, so why not us?

      While I didn't ask God why, I did repeatedly ask Him (pretty aggressively I might add) why he didn't take me too.  It was one thing to let this happen to Cadence, but in my eyes it was another altogether to separate us.  To me, it seemed like the cruelest thing in the world to separate us.  I really didn't care where it was, I wanted to be with Cadence.  The last thing I wanted to do was rejoin the world after we lost her.  I was hospitalized for several days after the delivery and I never left the hospital room.  Not just because I was on the 'Labor and Delivery' floor where all the other moms had babies that were alive, but because I just did not want to face the world. I wanted to disappear. 

      Why do I mention this now?  Well, when I look at what life has brought us these last two years (and what we have done with it!) I can't help but be grateful that God didn't answer my prayers in those dark days.  I still don't have an answer for HOW we lost Cadence but I do know that there was still work left for me to do after we lost her and, in my opinion, that is the reason I remained here without her.  Lots of folks are currently experiencing a period of loss - loss of a spouse, loss of a child, loss of a parent. Some are even dealing with non-tangible losses, such as loss of optimism, loss of hope, loss of opportunity.  If I can offer some unsolicited advice, I would encourage you to try to see past that loss even if for a brief moment and look at your continued presence as an opportunity to contribute to something bigger.  Give what you have to the cause, whatever your cause or gift may be.  For me, all I had to give once I lost Cadence was love so that is what I have partnered with George (and with you!) to try to share.  Your gift may be something else entirely but if you woke up this morning, no matter how discouraged you may feel, share it! And when you do, please think of Cadence.  It means the world to her dad and to me.
 

In love,

Suheily

The Perfect Cadence © 2017