The Handshake

Working as a Director of a childcare center, I see many touching moments parents have with their children; but this particular moment brought my little Ari out to play. One of my school-age children’s dad visits her at the center when she is not over his house for the weekend. They talked and laughed for about 20 minutes, and when it was time for dad to leave, they get up from the bench and do a playful handshake. As an adult seeing their playful handshake, I thought it was so sweet and innocent. But little Ari grew sad and jealous because daddy never did anything like that with her. This daddy-daughter duo would do their handshake about three times out of the week. This dad would leave wherever work is to sit down and just laugh and talk to his daughter.  He could have called her on the phone, but no, he comes to the center to see her. My dad never did that. My dad never went out of his way to make me feel seen. The man (my dad) does have inside jokes with my sister, so I know that he has it in him. But I guess it was not for me to see that side of him. I want to say that I am not jealous of this young girl for having a great relationship with her dad. I love that this man is taking time out of his day to see his daughter without any rhyme or reason. I wish I had that connection with my dad, but I understand that it was not for me.

I have to learn to love my little Ari harder. She needs to hear daily that everything will be okay and that she is loved. I have to talk to her nicely. She deserves that from me her parent.

Little Ari, we will get through this together. Just hang on. I love you.

Are You Being Served?

I was thinking about what to write today since we are coming up to the end of the year, so let’s talk about letting go of things and people that do not serve us anymore. I know it is not a happy topic, but we need to talk about it before setting any new goals for 2021.

I am huge on friendships. I would stay in them even when I do not see them going anywhere. My anxiety would make me feel bad for ending relationships, and I would go back to that relationship, knowing nothing would change. This year as I look back on relationships that ended, I realized that holding on to a relationship to make the other person feel good does nothing for you. Is someone looking after you? If you cannot say yes to this question, it is a safe bet to say that your relationship is not serving you.

We cannot continue to live our lives for others. What does it do for us to give them our all and never get that in return? We have to remember that our means should be met in the relationships we have and if they are not met, we should feel no pressure to stay. I saw a video that said, “You do not have to set yourself on fire to keep others warm.” This means we should not burn ourselves out just to be with a person. We should not be the only ones giving our all to the relationship. Find a person that will be willing to give as well as receive.

Dear Mama

Mama,

I just want to thank you. Thank you for accepting the role of my mother. I know I am not the easiest to deal with, but you handle it with grace. Thank you for knowing just when to call to talk me off the bridge. Thank you for the encouraging words even when I felt that I was not worthy of them. Thank you for showing me what being a woman and a mother is. You went above and beyond to make sure my brother and I had everything we wanted or needed. You went without to make sure we had it all (sometimes we didn’t deserve it, but we had our hands out), and nothing I could say or give you can show how thankful I am for you. I thank God for a mother like you. I could never ask for anyone that would be as loving and strong as you, mama. I can only pray that I can be half the mother and woman you are. You are truly my role model and my superhero. Mama, I could never find enough words in any language to thank you enough for everything you have done and still do for me.

Mama, I will forever love you.  

Trying to Forgive

Hi Daddy,

This letter has been a long time coming, but I want to say that I forgive you. I forgive you for not knowing what I needed from you as my father. I forgive you for losing sight of me and not realizing that you were hurting me. I forgive you for unknowingly choosing my sister over me. I want to say that I will forget all this, but I’m not sure that is something I can or want to do. The pain is deep, daddy. How could you not tell that I was in pain? How could you not see the sadness that I carried? I know that it was not something you wanted to do, but it happened. I also know that you want to jump right into a relationship with me, but I want you to know I need time.

I wish I had more to say to you. But honestly, I get emotional thinking about saying more to you. I cannot get back the daddy-daughter dances or the debates meets I wanted you to see, but I hope that we can talk without me feeling like a stranger to you. I don’t know if you would ever understand the pain and hurt I felt, but I want you to realize that I will try to work on us if you are willing to put in the work.

I love you daddy.

A Letter to a Long-Lost Friend

Hi,

I know it has been a while since we have spoken. To tell you that it is hard not to reach out to you is a huge understatement. I want you to know that I am not mad at you. I want you to know that it was not your fault that we are not speaking. I just think that although we share great memories and love, we need to be a part. I don’t know how long it will be or if we will ever be how we once were. I play a role in this separation too. I know I push things more than allow things to happen when it is the right time. Forgive me for that. I mean no harm by it.

I want you to know that you are a person that I will love forever. You are very important to me, friend. There is nothing I would not do for you. I hope you still know that. You are family, and sometimes family gets distant. But the distance does not change the fact that you matter in my life. I hope when you read this that you are not bothered by this. I hope that no ill feelings are resurfaced. I want to know that this letter gave you time to reflect on great lasting memories.

I love you, friend, and no time apart will take the love I have for you away.

Love,

Ari

Are We Really Free?

I just celebrated my 33rd birthday yesterday, but I cannot find joy. Another black man was sentenced to death before he could ever stand before a judge. I cannot wrap my head around why black lives are not taken into account. Why are we always the target? A black man is murdered, but instead of talking about that, they will bring up his run-ins with the police. Does that mean he is not eligible for fair treatment by the police? Help me out because I am trying to find the reason we cannot have justice.

I think about my husband, my father, my brother and brother-in-law, male cousins, my nephews, and uncles leaving out of the safety of their homes, not knowing if today will be the day someone decides to make them their next kill. I pray every morning that they are alright, and they make it back home. This should not be the world that we live in. America is supposed to be the land of the free, right? Yeah right. We are not all free. If we can’t get the chance to plead our case before our lives are seized, then freedom is not for all. I am becoming more and more numb every time I see a black person murdered. This should not be life. It is so difficult to find happiness when sadness is all around us.

We have to fight—black lives matter. Please hear us when we say that we matter. We want the freedom that was promised to us. Allow us to live. We just want to matter too.

Daddy’s Girl Wannabe

My mom told me when I was young, like 2 or 3 years old, my dad and I were thick as thieves. The thing is, I cannot remember that time at all. Would I want to have a closer relationship with my dad? Yes, I do, but sadly I do not think that will happen. When my sister was born, I felt that she would be my dad’s favorite. Not because she would be smarter or would have a better personality, but because she came from a marriage. My dad will never admit that, but I know the truth. Everything was about his wife (his ex-wife now), her sons, and my sister. Around 13, I decided that I did not want to be around them because I felt left out. My dad was not happy about that, but he did not make me feel like I was wanted, so it was best not to be around.


Becoming an adult, he began to talk to me more, which was great, but I was his unofficial therapist. He would call me to vent about work, his ex-wife, and my sister that “won’t listen” to him. As soon as I say that my sister is too much, he would stop me and defend her. “But you said that she was doing too much.” I was said to him. “Your sister is going through a lot because of her mom and I breaking up,” my dad said, “You do not know what she is going through.” I had enough. I asked to meet with him so that I could address my feelings about our relationship. “Ariel, the only reason why we do not have a strong relationship is because you did not live with me like your sister.” He said, looking at me casually. “What does me not living with you have anything to do with having a relationship with me?” I yelled.


I was annoyed that he would even use that as an excuse. I wanted him to say he was sorry and that he would do better, but that did not happen. He dug his heels deeper into the sand. “You just do not get it, Ariel,” He said. “My relationship with your sister is the way that it is because we live together.” I stopped talking and left. All I wanted was to have the inside jokes, my sister and dad shared. I wanted to be able to brag as my sister does about being a daddy’s girl. I am his oldest; I should not feel like an outsider. I am smart, funny, and respectful. Is that not enough for you, daddy?


So today, I posted pictures of myself. I saw I had a comment from my dad, and with excitement, I went on Facebook to read it. He said I was beautiful, and I began to cry. That was all I ever wanted was for him to say I was beautiful publicly. I want him to shout to the world that I am his daughter, and I am beautiful. I want him to be proud of me. Daddy, please be proud of me.


I want every woman that has an estranged relationship with their father to understand this; it is not your fault that he is not showing you the love you need. You are beautiful and deserving of the respect you required. Do not think for a moment you are not golden. You are Golden!