Being a dad has been very unpredictable and I mean that in an amazing way. All the thoughts I had of what it may be have been blown out of the water. It’s something I wanted, but something that has been unexpected with all that has come with it. I’m constantly on my toes and always mesmerized with all that Lily does, says and expresses, and all that she is and represents. The fact that this little lady is a partial representation of me just makes me smile, because she is just a loving bit of joy and she is just making me look so good right now! I’m thankful and very grateful for her and the way that she has changed my life.
As someone who is very observant about everything including fatherhood, I came across something that astonished me and truly humbled me in such a profound way. Lily loves to draw and paint. At this young age, she enjoys doing these things and expressing herself in that way. Through drawing, she expresses her world and the constant presence of the people that reign within it. It’s her interpretation of what she sees. Looking over the years, it gets deeper and deeper and more defined in terms of what she draws, and as you can tell – this impresses and astonishes me in equal measure. It truly is her art imitating her life and what’s important and constant to her.
When we were in London, the only people she drew were mainly Mummy and herself, with me thrown in for when she felt. No one else was involved constantly unless it was her close friends or items/toys she had around her most times. In terms of other family members, there wasn’t a constant presence so they never showed up in pictures she drew. At that time, I was just grateful that my daughter knew me and wanted to include me in her art. I count that as a blessing. A blessing that my own father never saw when he was around, but a blessing that I am alive to see with my own eyes.
Now that we have moved to Houston and been here for nearly two years, things have drastically changed in Lily’s art for the better. Her art includes more varied people who are in her life constantly enough to be remembered and to make an impression on her. She has a much better support network now as we live with her grandparents, her cousins, aunts and uncles live very close by and are seen often, and she sees her school friends regularly in school but also outside of school too at play-dates or birthday parties. Because of this change in addition to myself and my wife, all the people she sees are looked at as family and friends that she loves and loves to have around her. This is majorly reflected in her art now. It enhances the reasons why we decided to move to Houston and her quality of life is drastically improving.
Writing this post is a surprise to me as I never thought that I would be talking about my daughter and her art in this way. It has an added gravitas because of the life I have lived before and what circumstances and situations I’ve been brought up around (mum died in her 40s, dad left when I was a very young baby, brought up in a single parent household, no male role models until later in life). Throughout my life (sometimes unknowingly), I have secretly lived for the feeling of being an integral part of my child’s life. I have wanted them to know me and realize that a father should be the norm in their life through my example. Seeing myself represented in Lily’s drawings on a constant basis gives me gratitude, love and pride.
It’s a realized dream to see my daughter, a young lady of colour, acknowledge her father as an everyday presence in her drawings and in her everyday talking about me to others. It’s a normality that we should truly want for all young children of colour – Daddy is here and he isn’t going anywhere, unless he’s doing a backflip into your heart!