Its time for another “I’m Not a Bad Mom Because …” My new weekly series. If you’d like more info or want to submit, check it out here.
This week I’ve received two submissions so you’ll have this one today from the lovely A’Driane and tomorrow from Charity, both friends I met on The Twitter via #PPDChat. Thank you for sharing yourself with us ladies!
Since I became a mother 4 ½ years ago, I’ve pretty much had a love/hate relationship with labels like “baby mama” and “single parent.” I say love/hate because one makes me feel a certain sense of strength and pride, seeming to give an indication that I perhaps went this route by choice.
Say the words “Single Parent” and most of the time images of career oriented women who have chosen to have a child on their own come to mind. At least mine anyway.
Say the words “Baby Mama” to me and I feel a sense of shame, like I’ve done something wrong or was irresponsible or handled procreation irresponsibly. Especially being a Christian, the whole “un-wed mother” cake is a tough one to eat with its guilt whipped icing. God may not pass judgment on me, but people sure do, Christian & non-Christian.
Some utter their judgments aloud, in the open for me to hear, to my face. Being asked why I’m not married and why my kids don’t look anything alike is something I’ve grown accustomed to. Others sentence me in silence with stares, their eyes giving my ring finger, my golden-skinned older son, my youngest son who’s WAY lighter than me (his father is a light skinned Puerto-Rican), and myself a once over, completing it with a slight sneer of condemnation in their body language as they pass us by…or stand next to us in line at the grocery store, or ….you get the picture.
Would it surprise you if I said I get the worst looks from other moms?
And then there’s the issue of names, which I admit is confusing for the assistants at the pediatrician’s office or the teachers at daycare, and always an uncomfortable one I don’t like having to explain. I mean really is it that big of a deal? One mom, two kids, 3 different last names. For the guy who was enrolling my sons at their new school yesterday, it was. He used more white out than I’d ever seen and looked more exacerbated than I do on my worst anxiety ridden day. “Brennan’s last name is…Dudley?” No. “And what about Alex-same as Brennan’s?” Nope. Totally different. “Same as yours?” Dude, NO. Stop guessing and just ask me what they are. Needless to say I politely suggested he print new forms & I filled them out myself.
So yea. Being an unmarried single black woman with two kids whose names are nowhere near close to mine puts me in the judgment seat, not with the “Single Parent” label, but the “Baby Mama” one stitched onto my shirt like a scarlet letter. The stares, the questions, the way people treat me once they think I fit a certain stereotype when they encounter me with my children disheartens me sometimes.
If you were to ask me which term I prefer, I’d of course say “Single Parent”-like I said, its connotation is less stigmatizing. But after my relationship with my youngest son’s father ended last month, I’ve been battling with feeling like a failure as a parent. Black woman. Two kids with two different fathers. One’s a deadbeat, the other isn’t.
Yep. Baby Mama. Failure. I had been telling myself for the past 3-4 weeks that I was a bad parent because I couldn’t provide a traditional, “stable” 2 parent household for my boys. Telling myself that I was a bad parent because I felt like I failed my oldest son by not being able to provide for him the father that’s missing in his life. Fear was telling me that my ex was just going to totally forget about him and focus on the son we have together.
But that’s so irrational and so far from the truth. It’s not a representation of my family at all. Yes it’s not traditional. Yes, all our last names are different. Yes, my children have different fathers & don’t look alike. No, I’m not with my ex. But we have made a commitment to co-parenting & raising BOTH boys. And THAT is an accurate representation of my family.
Statistics are just that. Statistics. Data. Numbers. Do I fall under a certain composition of statistics? Sure. But does that mean I have to be labeled, especially with one that carries a negative connotation to it? Nope. Not at all. Not this Mama. I refuse to let statistics or labels define my family, what type of parent I am, or that I have to carry shame or guilt over any of it.
I love my boys. So does my ex. We are co-parents. I’m a black woman who’s had children by two different men. You can call me a “Single Parent” or a “Baby Mama”, but from this day forward I refuse to let that make myself or even you think for a split second that this makes me a bad parent. Period.