AARON'S STORY - THE IMPORTANCE OF FATHERHOOD
We Got Us Now | Guest Contributor: Aaron Yates
I never had a deep appreciation for Father's day because I never knew my biological Father. I wish my daughter didn't know the feeling of being a fatherless child. I can remember the first time that I found out that I was a father, it was on Rikers Island visiting floor in C-74. The year was 1996 and I was 16 years old. The realization of being a father was overwhelming to me. Wow, I can still feel the fear and uncertainty of me not being able to fulfill my obligations as a parent to a new born baby while incarcerated. What was the blue print to raising a child, would I swim or would I drown? As I held my daughter on my chest for the first time it felt like time had stopped; it was so surreal to see how much she looked just like me. Her face was a clone of mine as a child, and she still looks just like her daddy. I eventually lost contact with both my daughter and her mother. The vibe between her mother and I faded out after the last letter she wrote, the letter came enclosed with two photos of my baby girl. Ironically, the letter came just two days before Father's day and that rocked my world.
I was filled with mixed emotions of pain, guilt, fear and anger towards no one but myself. But, the emotion that superseded them all was that of love and joy from knowing that I am important to someone in this world, my life now had meaning. The love a Father shares with his child sets the tone for their entire life. I slept with my daughter's picture every night wondering what she was doing and how she is growing up and progressing throughout the years. Who is teaching her to let the right people love her and let the wrong ones go. Those were the kind of thoughts that kept me up at night.
Upon my arrival back into society, I admit that I had temporarily lost focus on the dreams and goals I had set in mind for us. When I look into my daughter eyes today, I still see the same little girl I held in my arms years ago. I cannot change the past, but on this Father's day, I would want my daughter to try and find it in her heart to forgive me and give me a shot at being back in her life-if not as a father figure, then as a friend; the same goes for my son-happy Father's day Chris. I believe in you, with my help each of my children will be better than me.