I remember the day in February 2013, my then partner (now fiancé) turned to me and said “I haven’t come on”. I said “we’ll have to get a test then”. So we went to the chemist and bought one, then she went to work.
I was unemployed at the time so I went back home and sat around waiting for her phone call. An hour or so later she called me and said “I’ve done it twice. It’s positive”. I paused for a bit, then said “I guess we are going to be parents then!”.
I wasn’t afraid. She was. I wasn’t. I had been preparing myself for fatherhood for longer than I could remember. I’d always felt like I could do it. I could be a great dad. I’d been an older brother since 1989, and did a pretty good job so why not.
Fast forward two months, and my boys organised an evening out to eat in Clapham.
I was still unemployed, and not feeling so joyous about my impending fatherhood. At this point my girlfriend (and job seekers allowance) had been the source of money, I had no savings and was feeling pretty down and out. I really didn’t want to go out and break bread with my brothers, but couldn’t think of a reasonable excuse to give them and so I went.
I remember being completely vacant the whole evening. I didn’t even finish my food, much less engage in conversation. It must’ve been awfully awkward for them (sorry if you are reading this guys).
To be honest I really wasn’t excited about bringing a little person (at that time of unknown gender) into the world with nothing, or worse on benefits. I wasn’t raised on benefits and had my first job at ten, but at this point, post university, I had already been through about 5 temp jobs.
Fast forward again a few weeks later and after reading a Facebook status advertising work, and a successful recruitment day I was finally employed.
Funny how things turn around.
Another fast forward to 29th September and we had a wonderful baby shower for my partner.
October 6th and I proposed to my fiancé on a beach in Cornwall.
12 days later Jamillah Esther Afua Asantewaa Mante was born.
Can’t really describe all the emotions of the day (well, the night before leading up to the day, including the back rubbing, sick bowls and abuse from the fiancé!), but seeing my daughter was a life changing, life affirming thing indeed.
Since then I’ve been unemployed again, then employed twice!
London isn’t easy, but it isn’t the end of me either!
From the day my daughter was born until forever, I’m resolved to not live by excuses, but by deeds and actions.
To be the example.
To set the bar.
To see that her achievements far surpass mine.
I will do better so she can.
Alfred K Mante
Film Maker/Civil Servant/Father/Fiancé