Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fatherhood in the Military

Happy Fantabulous Tuesday!

Father's Day is this Sunday, so I thought I'd get some perspectives this week from a few daddies that I know and love. Today's blog is written by someone I respect dearly. He just started commenting on the blog (he came out for the Kobe post), so you may not be too familiar with him. But to us SU heads, he's D - fellow alum. He also serves in our military and just got back from Iraq...and will be getting married in a couple weeks. Please join me in thanking him for his service to our country, congratulating him on his upcoming nuptials, and showing him some love on his post today. Introducing Dwayne "DMurray" Murray.



Fatherhood in the Military...by DMurray

I had a discussion with Brooke about two weeks ago about fatherhood - about the difficulties that fathers face. Our conversation prompted me to share my experiences as a father with blog membership, so here I go.

First of all, I want to acknowledge that being a single mother is not easy. There are challenges of being the mother AND the father in the interaction with children. I believe that children need both parents. Of course, I assume both parents are of sound body and mind and not abusive. A bad parent is not better than no parent at all...with bad being subjective.

As far as I am concerned, boys need their fathers. Fathers set the example in the household. I am not saying that we are the missing link, and I do not suggest that children without fathers or male role models cannot be successful. But there is no substitute for good old fashioned parenting. It does take a village...but with two good parents, the whole village will not be stressed.

I could go on and on about having two good parents (the debate can begin now), but what I really want to talk about are the challenges of being a single dad and being in the military. I love my son more than life itself, but there was no amount of love that could keep his mother and I together. We both did things wrong, and our divorce only came as a surprise to him. That was more than 3 years ago, and as I am 13 days away from remarrying, I am reminded of how important it is to let my son know how much I love him.

The challenge is doing that in the midst of multiple deployments, separation, long hours and all the other challenges that are the military. Oh, and we don’t even live in the same time zone. Sure being a father is hard, being a father not with the child’s mother is a challenge - but the trifecta is serving in the military at the same time.

One of the sayings they have in the Army is, “if they wanted you to have a family, they would have issued you one.” I am not complaining - I love my job, I love what I do and would not change it for the world. My son thinks I do great work for our country. I picked him up from the airport on Saturday and he was wearing the same dogtags I gave him before I went to Iraq over 18 months ago. He told me he was supporting the troops.

This message is to fathers - be the best dad you can be. Give your kids the best opportunity to be great, even if that means you have to be a better man yourself. You owe it to them...they did not ask to be here. That may mean dealing with the ex, or baby momma, with dignity and strength. That may also mean showing him/her how to handle adversity. Remember, you are always on stage for them...always.



Happy Father’s Day!

DMurray

15 comments:

Serena W. said...

FIRST!!!!!

Serena W. said...

D.Murray. I remember the email you sent when you touched US soil. I was overjoyed and overwhelmed with emotion happy that you made it back safe. Thank you for serving our country. Its an honor to be your friend.

This piece is very compelling as I can imagine the challenges you and a lot of other men face in the military being away.

But the one thing you said is a bad parent is no better then being absent.

Although you are away a lot you love and adore your child. You would move mountains for your son.

Some men live in the same zipcode or just 10 minutes away from their kids and can't even do that much.

I look up to you and the other men who take responsibility. My father was the one who lived 15 minutes from me. Never acknowledged me or anything. He was all messed up, but paid the ultimate price living a short life.

So to all the fathers that are reading this that take care of your children, I personally thank you. Sons need the Dads...but daughters need them too.

Brooke said...

I decided to wait to leave my comment so someone else could be first :-)

Serena, I agree with everything you said...especially about daughters needing their fathers too. My parent divorced when I was 12, even though they separated long before that. They had no business being married, so I was never one to wish that they stayed together. However, you don't have to married to your child's mother/father in order to be a good parent. Of course you want the situation to be as ideal as possible, but a failed marriage is no excuse for choosing not to be a great parent. My father made that mistake - and the relationship I have with him is because my mother forced it. She kept his side of the family in our lives, and I thank her for that, because I know it wasn't easy for her to do.

Now he and I have a good relationship, but it's not great - like a father and daughter should be. My dad was also in the military when we were younger, so not sure if the things he saw and the losses he suffered contributed to the type of father he was...or was not.

It's never too late tho..so if you don't have a great relationship with your parent, correct if you can. Meet them half way. In the end, when they're gone...what they did or did not do may not even matter anymore.

Rameer said...

Cool blog, Dwayne. However...

YOU NUTS IF YOU THINK YOU CAN DO THE SAME THINGS AS KOBE BRYANT!!! LMAO!!!

(Ahem) Sorry, insider between me and D...couldn't be helped.

Annamaria said...

Serena & Brooke TASED!

D first & foremost thank you for the sacrifice you are making to keep us safe! May god keep u safe always! Secondly I applaud you. Very few dads have the maturity I see in your words! And even fewer get credit when they are good dads! Your son is very lucky & will definitely appreciate & be a better man tomorrow cause of it!

Serena W. said...

Brooke we have had discussions about the dads. Now as a woman I told people that I'm thankful that he wasn't in my life. He would have destroyed all that my mother did and put into place for me.

I'm very grateful for the man that did raise me. My grandfather (Papa) was my knight in shining armor, advisor, spiritual leader of the household. He demonstrated to me how a man is supposed to be and grow up to be great men like D. Murray :) because of him I had balance although I always wondered about my father.

But it wasn't meant to meet him. Just happy that he died helping others as he mentored drug abusers and alcoholics and that I was led to the other side of my family after his passing.

I know we have some great men that read this blog. (Yes Rameer you are greatness too)! Would love to hear their take on fatherhood :)

Annamaria said...

The thing I find funny is that most of these men are doing what they should obviously be doing but they get no credit for it. No thanks no pat on the back like moms do. You hear all about a dead beat dad but when a man does right by his kids it's like soo what.

Talking to Austin yesterday he asked me something that I found soo weird. He asked me if I thought he would be a good father. NOW the man has 2 kids 6 & 8 that he speaks to every day & we see all the time & stay here every other week soo he obviously is an active parent it just struck me as strange that he didn't realize that he is a father & a darn good one at that.
I always say that money can't buy happiness. My parents are still together to this day. And don't get me wrong Daddy spoils the hell out of me still. AND now he is spoiling his granddaughter already. BUT I can honestly say the highlight of me being unemployed is how my dad pops up at my house at least once a week to have lunch with me & see me & rub my belly. It has meant soo much to see him be such a presence in my life during this time even though he has always been there for me that I don't know what I would do without him.
To all you great dads out there if you don't hear it at all or enough.. Thanks for your contribution to your kids lives & for your contribution to society. By being there these kids will learn how to be respectable hardworking adults thanks to you.
Also I know we have a bunch of uncles, big brothers, stepdads, etc that read this blog. You are all important male figures in kids lives & should be recognized as well.

Pretty Ricky What Dey Call'em said...

D. Murray... great blog. I am actually co-hosting a discussion on fatherhood and fatherlessness on the Three Doctors Fan Page on Facebook. They wrote a book called "the Bond" dealing with that very issue. I do work for them, but I am not biased when I say..the book is powerful.

We men have to step up. But to take it a step further...we already know the conditions in our society. Sometimes I think we are preaching to the wrong people. Dead beat dads...will be dead beat dads...until they decide to step up. No amount of blogging, articles, tv shows addressing the subject is going to change that. I think we need to focus our efforts on the men in our community who realize it is important for young men to have strong male role models in their community. We need these men to be father figures to our community.

D. Murray just want to add to the sentiment thanking you for serving our country. Your son has a great father. plus he has a dad that looks like Darren from Darren's Dance Grooves and Stomp the Yard... who can ask for more!!!

DMurray said...

Well I am sitting in the office and got the message from Brooke that I was suppose to be available to respond to you guys... my bad!

You guys are the best. Thank you for your comments and encouragement. The truth be told though, I don't think I am doing anything special. As arrogant and as cocky as I can be (folks like Rameer and Ant know this) loving and raising my son is a mandate. It is not an option furthermore it is not even a responsibility; it is a awesome task that is rewarded at the end of your days. All men should remember that children are the crowns of Grandfathers. I beam with pride everytime my boy does something new. Man, he is 7!!!! I can't wait until he starts high school, wants to go on a date, or gets excited about his first acceptance letter to college.

These are the things I live for all the best parts of me manifesting itself in my young cub.

Brooke said...

Pretty Ricky always has to say something crazy like "you look like Darren from Stomp the Yard."

:)

Annamaria, Austin already is a great dad, and will continue to be when lil Sophia comes along!

Serena, yes, we've had this discussion...and I completely agree. People ask me all the time if I think I'd be a better person if my father was in the same house growing up...and I can WITH CERTAINTY tell you NO. I would be a totally different person...and not for the good. Never saw alcoholism growing up. I never saw arguing growing up. I never saw abuse growing up. I knew nothing but happiness...my mother kept all of that other stuff away from me and had enough sense to leave so that we wouldn't see it. My mother never said a bad word about my dad growing up...not once. She encouraged us to write him letters. She drove us to Maryland to spend summers with my paternal grandparents..and I was just as close to my dad's side of the family as I was her's...even though I was completely surrounded by my maternal family.

That took work and sacrifice, and I think it made MY FATHER a better person, not me. Now he has the chance to be a grandfather and make up for it. I can sit here and name all the reasons why I should be angry with him or disappointed, but what good would that do? His issues are his, but I had an amazing childhood growing up, and I can't be mad at him when I have so many blessings.

People try their best sometimes and fail. They have demons, issues that are beyond our control. We just have to pray for them and hope that we don't take on those demons ourselves.

That being said, we should definitely focus our appreciation on those that ARE doing what they're supposed to be doing and take their responsibility seriously. Not just biological fathers, but stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers, mentors. My stepfather James was the best, and he filled in where my father left off. I miss him everyday, and I was blessed to have had him in my life.

DMurray said...

You know the funny thing is this is the first Father's Day that my son and I will spend together since the divorce......

The even cooler thing is I get to talk to him about the ideas that I have about life. How to live right; morale courage, leadership, stewardship and the importance of being a good citizen. More powerful than that is the idea of taking him to church and allow him to watch Dad interact with and worship Christ. This is the first and last thing we talk about each day. He knows his father is human.....he knows his old man knows how to interact with other men and how to treat a woman. Amazingly despite the fact that his mom and I are not together he has never seen us argue. He also sees how I treat his mom and how I treat my fiance'. He knows love, the lack there of the difference between the two and how to be cordial, kind-hearted and friendly.

Ironically, people that knew me in college might think I would have been the last person to have kids. I am not sure why but just because.

DMurray said...

Annamaria,

The fact that you have a man that is great father is a treasure. Of course we will always second guess ourselves. We want to do it right; the first time. Raising a child is such a challenge with all the pitfalls that are out there. My background is so sorted and such a tale of tow cities that I could start my own blog just based on that! Trust me, if you only knew........

Dads not only need the reassurance of the children but the same from their spouses or significant others. Even though his mom and I are not together when my boy succeeds I also thank her. Sometimes our conversations are very abrasive but I do that for him.

Serena W. said...

Enjoy this special weekend with your son D. Father's Day always holds something special to me, I met my sisters from my Dad's side on Father's Day weekend 2000. So this will be our 9th year knowing each other :) After Papa died in 2001 that weekend was hard, but my one sister that kept in touch made it a celebration of meeting and of my grandfathers memories (ahhhh).

Brooke maybe our mama's need to meet too. The one thing my Mom did was tell me the great things about my father. I couldn't understand why at the time but as I grew older I knew. It was ashame that a man with so many gifts and talents would waste it away.

I'm glad for men like the ones on this blog that are intelligent, talented, gifted and passing it down to their children and the next generation and not wasting it away :)

This blog really made my day by looking at how many do great things (like Annamaria said, pat the brothers on the back that are taking care of their fam). Thanks D. Murray.

To all the men enjoy your fathers day weekend.

Annamaria said...

D-
I think the fact that you second guess yourself or question yourself at times proves what good dads you are. That you guys care enough to wonder if you are doing your best shows how lucky these kids are. My hope is that they all know it.

Have a wonderful father's day.

Latinegro said...

D - great blog! I am glad you can talk about single fatherhood and the challenges with the military.

My father was a single dad and I know I didnt make it easy for him. now I find myself asking him for all the advice in the world...

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