The men in Swaziland, as a sweeping generalization, are deadbeats. We’ve been told that it is common practice for a man to marry a woman, have children, spend a few years with that family before leaving unannounced and starting a new family. Alcoholism is an epidemic of epic proportions, causing job turnover and unemployment rates to be insanely high.
Today is Father’s Day, a holiday not well celebrated in Swaziland…but I’m American and so here is what I have to say:
Happy Father’s Day Daddy. I know we are a half a world apart on a day that should be spent together, and this time, the fault is mine.
Here is something the world should know about my dad: he is, in a lot of ways, your stereotypical military man, which, in a lot of ways, should make him a bad father. He leaves for work every morning around 4:30 in the morning 5 days and sometimes doesn’t get home until after dinner. He has to spend one weekend a month at work. He is in charge of a lot of people—other military men who do what they are told the first time they are told, unlike the four children at our house (myself included). He gets deployed for 3, 6, 9, 12 months at a time; due to the nature of his job, we often don’t receive details about where he is going or what he is doing and in terms of wartime, that’s a scary thing.
There are a lot of things on which my dad and I don’t see eye to eye. We used to fight a lot, but I never stopped wearing my dad’s service like a badge of honor. I’m a military brat and I have been that way from the very beginning.
I’m going to be really honest, these things suck really bad sometimes…but these are some of the very things that make him the best dad I could. In his office are pictures of our entire family. There’s a picture on his desk of him pushing me on a swing when I was maybe 4 years old. He may work long hours, but he is providing for our family in a position that he loves. He misses a lot of family dinners, but he always comes home to eat the leftovers. We may get in trouble for not listening the first time we’re told something, but it’s because my dad is trying to protect us, hold us to higher standards to make us better. He may get deployed for long periods of time and miss important things—he missed my sixteenth birthday and every choir competition in which I competed—but it’s okay because my dad was doing his job. There are people in the world who need my dad to fight for them more than I do.
Most people will be posting pictures and instacollages of their dads, but this is the best I can do. Happy Father’s Day Daddy. I love you, even if I’m ten thousand miles away.