Unpacking the Shame of Single Motherhood
It was bath time for my four year old son. He was entertaining himself in the tub with some toy fish. I seized the opportunity to sneak a call in with my best friend. We planned to talk about our plans to meet up and party hard at our 2016 Spelhouse homecoming. She and I finalized our turn up festivities and then there was a serious and sort of dramatic subject change.
"Have you spoken to the father of your child?" she asked. I could tell that I needed to excuse myself from the presence of my son so I walked into my bedroom and replied "About a week and a half ago ,why?" She looked at me confused and asked for clarity. "So he hasn't told you anything?" She goes on to tell me that the father of my child posted pictures on his Instagram showing that he and a 8.5 month pregnant woman were expecting a child together.
I immediately reacted with a point of clarity.My son had been talking about a little brother for about six months up to this point. I thought perhaps this was the baby he was talking about all along. In the end, my sons premonition was slightly off, his father is in fact, NOT expecting to make a little brother for him. That's when I thought through the fact that I was not sure if his father even had any intentions of telling me or his son about the new family he created.
At this point my mind began racing with a failed and urgent attempt to understand the choices made by my son's father. I began trying to answer questions like, "How can he afford to care for another child when he is not consistent with visiting or sending money for the son we already have?" , "Wait, how did he even afford to court this woman when the average money my son has received over the course of the past two years since our breakup is, $9 per week." Then there was the question that was most confusing, "How has he not shared this joyous information with our son?" No matter how I flipped and spun the possibilities, I couldn't come up with an answer that made sense within my frame of reasoning.
So there I sat with myself feeling embarrassed. I focused my entire life to make choices that my family, friends, and I could be proud of. I was a star athlete, received 23 scholarships upon my graduation from high school, I graduated from Spelman with high honors, I am a highly respected teacher, the owner and operator of my own movement and wellness company, I set goals that I accomplish AND... I have a "baby daddy". One, that is not financially nor emotionally responsible to our son. I was ashamed. How did this happen to me?
It was in that moment that I was able to take a deep breath. I slowed down the momentum of self shame. I just breathed. In that space I realized, unfortunately, his father making another child is not my business. In fact, it wasn't even made the business of my son before it was posted on a public social platform. I realized that his choices didn't makes sense to me because they were not mine to make sense of. Often times women are usually held responsible for the choice making of the men she creates a relationship with. Blame is tossed around. Society says she didn't do enough to keep him, she should've stayed and waited for him to change, her standards were too high. I mean, how dare her ask him to send money and visit his child living in a different state?
About a week later, I called him to tell him I knew he was having a child. He responded by stating that he knew the information would eventually get to me after he posted it on Instagram.
With the birth of his new family, I was finally able to release control. Previously I wanted him to be a father who provided, one who called his son everyday, one who was accountable for all of the economic trauma he caused in our lives. I realized that he was on his path just like the rest of us. He too was processing his own value, his own worth, and his own philosophy's. He has to be the father that he defines as the best, whether I agree with the blueprint or not.
Once again the universe was offering me extreme contrast to what it is that I believe in. It is out of this contrast that I can continue to define and create the world that I prefer. He and I have been on each other's path since I was eight years old. The lessons I have collected from him for the last 20 years are instrumental to my understanding of life. In this moment I release all associations with the choices of my child's father, for they are not mine to judge.
In this moment, I never understood the lyrics of "Find My Way To Love" written by our beloved Morehouse jazz band, Jaspects, any more clearly. It is not important to consider what he has or has not done. I don't need to wreck my brain trying to make him more accountable. After all what he has done is "... help me find my way to love..." His example helped me to learn how I prefer to love myself and how I want to see a man show love to my child. For that gift I will forever, shamelessly, love him as one of the best teachers in my life.
Signed x A Single Mother No Longer Carrying the Shame of Choices Made by her "Baby Daddy"