On Tuesday, June 10th, I received an email from the producers of NewsOne Now with Roland S. Martin. They wanted to see if I would be available for a Skype interview on Thursday, June 12th. With the Father’s Day Weekend fast approaching, Roland wanted to chat with me about my experiences as a stay-at-home father.
Of course, I responded yes. Who in their right mind would turn down an opportunity to speak with former Cable News Network (CNN) Political Analyst Roland S. Martin on a nationally televised news program? As a parent who proudly wore the Mr. Mom label for over seven years, I felt I had plenty to say about this topic. And now that I am once again serving in this role while simultaneously trying to build a loyal following for my debut novel, ADINKRAHENE: Fear of a Black Planet, I embrace these kind of opportunities. I just wish I had been given more time to provide more thorough responses to Roland’s questions. But that’s what happens when you have a twenty-minute segment, and you’re sharing the stage with parenting experts like Kenrya Rankin Naasel and Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever.
If I had been given more time, I would have told Roland that my situation is neither special nor unique. Husbands all across America are making the hard decision to resign from their full-time jobs to change soiled diapers, transport their children to and from school, while their wives work tirelessly from 9-5 to bring home the bacon. Back in August 2005, I opted to resign from my job as the Director of the Bruce Wells Scholars TRIO Upward Bound Program (Worcester, Massachusetts) because my son needed the kind of support and influence that only I could give him. As I stated during the interview, my number one objective is to help him establish his own platform for success. Yes, he does have a long way to go. But a prideful smile crosses my face when I realize my fifth grader has been an A-B student since the third grade. My hope is he maintains this momentum, for the future is bright for individuals who commit themselves to lifelong learning and community engagement.
During my conversation with Roland, I alluded to the fact that the state of black males is not good. This allusion is based on my experiences as the child to a single-parent mother, and my interactions with black children, youths and parents as a social work professional. But I wish I had had more time to speak with Roland about possible solutions to this problem, the importance of black men not just blaming unenlightened Whites for the condition of their families. As my characters boldly proclaim in ADINKRAHENE: Fear of a Black Planet, some of our black men don’t understand how urgent it is for us to lead responsibly in our homes and communities.
If more of us black fathers were committed to great, charismatic leadership in these settings alone, our black children would not be embracing this misconception that they’re inferior to everyone else when it comes to brains but superior to everyone else when it comes to brawn. They would know that superiority for Black Americans is found at the midpoint of these two extremes, and great, charismatic leadership is clearly evident when more of us are seen and heard leading the charge for fairness, righteousness and equality.
What does being a stay-a-home father have to do with my life as a novelist? Probably nothing. But one thing I do know: taking time to sow into my son’s life has allowed me to reap the benefits of becoming a better writer, a published one. You see, our children get older, become more independent, wiser. And when more of their time is spent at school, we writers, who also happen to be stay-at-home parents, are free to craft content that entertains, educates and enlightens.
If you’re like me, you see yourself once again securing full-time employment. I resigned from my full-time Staff Analyst job with First 5 San Bernardino in April 2014 due to an impending move from California to Texas. When these resignations occur, we ask ourselves, “Will I be able to retire before the age of 70?” But then our focus shifts back to our product, those boxed up books that are in need of readers. We tell ourselves, if we can sell enough books, we will never have to work a traditional 9-5 job again.
For us, writing isn’t a job, it’s a passion. And if it weren’t for those darn bills, we would do it for free.
Thank you, Roland S. Martin, for giving me an opportunity to share.