African American family works together at the dining room table

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My mother is always on my mind, even on Father’s Day.

I was raised by my mom in a single parent household, and she’s definitely my first example of a true rock. My mom’s main goal is making sure that each day I do better than I did the day before. I’m not a perfect guy. I’m a student and still figuring out my sh*t. I’m not proud to say it, but there have been times when I’ve lied and even been a little disrespectful. I’ve also been an unappreciative little snot—I once said my summer was boring because we missed our annual trip to Disney World. I even got arrested once for something that was stupid, but totally my fault. What I really appreciate about my mother is that she always forgives my foolishness, and that makes me want to be a better man.

My mother is the reason I get frustrated with all the negative stereotypes around single moms, especially those of color. She met and continuously grinds and creates opportunities for me to succeed. Is she my dad’s “baby mama?” Nah. She’s a partner, leader, and dreamer. She also did her best to fill the voids created by my father’s absence when necessary.

People often say it takes a village to raise a child, but nobody had more influence on my life than my mother.

People often say it takes a village to raise a child, but nobody had more influence on my life than my mother. It’s the love that I feel from and for her that’s formed my whole perspective on having a wife and kids. No matter what I do or where I go, the love is always real and true with my mom. For a long time, I thought that only women had the capacity to devote themselves so selflessly to someone else. As a man, I realize that love and dutifulness are choices—ones I plan to make when the time is right.

In my opinion, too many men lose themselves when they’re in relationships. They forget to love the woman they are with. They forget that she needs support, just like their mom. I’ve witnessed too many situations where a dad abandoned their woman and child and left the mother to play both roles. As a kid, I wondered why, but as a man, I want to know how?

My mom couldn’t teach me how to tie a tie, play basketball, or even use the bathroom—I grew up sitting down to pee until I was in elementary school. But boys aren’t the only ones who suffer when dads decide to do less. Women may be able to tell their daughters how to identify the true intentions of men, but good dads (or father figures) are needed to instill the confidence and love that helps young women make solid choices when it comes to guys.

In college—shout out to Howard University—I came to a big realization: My mother is the reason I want to be a good man. Yeah, I want to get my money up, and like every other dude says, “take my mom out the hood.” But my mother isn’t broke, she’s dope on her own. She has a great career, she’s living her best life, and she orders all of that around her top priority: her son. I want to honor my mom by giving her things, but also by exuding the qualities she’s been hustling to instill in me.

My child will be my top priority. I know every household doesn’t consist of a husband, wife, and children—but that doesn’t mean it should feel incomplete.

My mother also inspires me to be a better husband and father. Regardless of the circumstances of my relationship, when I become a parent, I will be there. My child will be my top priority. I know every household doesn’t consist of a husband, wife, and children—but that doesn’t mean it should feel incomplete. In my opinion, more complicated situations require even greater collaborative co-parenting; if not, the children suffer.

As Father’s Day approaches, I’m thinking about my mom and the kind of dad I want to be. I want to be the guy who is there—even in the midst of my personal struggles, whether it’s a heartbreak and money woes or feeling I’m like going crazy and in a mid-life adulting crisis. I plan to show up for my kids the same way my mom was there for me. I can’t wait to be that man.

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