The trope of the single black mama shames babymamas for having kids early or picking the stereotypical physically absent father. One proves that she is not young, chaste, & pure in a twisted Catholic sort of way. The other trope shows that she cannot keep a man, which only intensifies if a woman has multiple babydaddys; it also shows her multiple failures at motherhood, which is directly impacted by her failure at keeping a man.
As if motherhood is something you can fail at if you have babies young &/or single.
Motherhood is challenging, period. The challenges do change according to circumstance. Being a healthy parent is one that requires a lot of support. So, just bc a woman decides to have a child with a deadbeat doesn't mean that she should still raise her baby alone.
We need to get out of the binary that motherhood is “good” if you are a married woman. It is not helping, nor is it accurate.
Women & men love to pop out their chest when you ask them if they have children. Some of them, simply say, “No” while others add on, “I am not married” bc their body starts getting fertile after they say, “I do.”
Marriage is cool. I am NOT throwing shade at it, however, we have accepted marriage as a natural evolutionary process for motherhood. It’s not. In fact, you don’t need marriage to live happily with children or to have children, period.
I wonder why people are in shock, disbelief, or mad to see teenagers have babies. Their body is ready. It’s been happening. It is a part of the language of our bodies, our nature. Many cultures have rites of passages into adulthood aka puberty. Their bodies are getting ready to be procreators. Rites of passages celebrate sex, fertility, & children. They celebrate the continuation of lineage & family. Creation will always have its’ way despite marital status.
& then there is me.
When I became pregnant, my parents asked me how could I make a baby with such a man? Why didn’t I know better? I was in college. I was smart. They felt like I made a stupid decision. I could see their point, but I felt like no one feels mines.
The question for me isn’t my lack of awareness. Why I should have known better.
It’s about acknowledging a history colored by trauma from White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy & loving black men through that lens of the Americas' version of white nationalism & how that informs black masculinity.
Our current narrative is that the black community is incapable of black love bc our family units aren’t intact with two parent households. Our grandmamas are raising the babies, while one parent works & the other is not around. Grandmothers are too old to keep up with her grand babies. The absence of fathers translates to more violence, crime, incarceration, & school dropouts.
Black boys don’t have positive male role models, so they keep going to prison. Black girls don’t grow up with their fathers, so they don’t know how to keep a man bc their mothers didn’t model how to love a man. So, these women keep choosing “bad” men. It’s all a cyclical process that could be stop if women stop having babies or choose better men to have babies with.
The black mother is left with the responsibility of raising the next generation. She is blamed bc she is a queen, a goddess, & she should have known better. Black women graduate at a higher rate & are more gainfully employed than black men. & since we control the kind of men we choose to give birth through, women should be making better decisions.
The research of father-absent homes focuses on the dangers of men not being present in their child’s life. But I have yet to see research as to WHY black men are leaving their children to be raised solely by their mothers.
There are links between the devaluing of black boys & men & single parent home. These absent-fathered homes blame men & women, but don’t take into the account of how racism is directly to blame for “broken” homes.
Black parents are incarcerated, unemployed, & face evictions at disproportionate rates compared to whites. Our children need presence. Presence doesn’t just translate to having a parent who is there physically, but a community who are there for the WHOLE CHILD & the WHOLE PARENT. How can that happen if individually we are fucked. Black “broken” homes translates to black “broken” communities.
But how can a marginalized people, be present for their children? We are out here trying to escape the “man” by working long hours, self-medication, & providing the basic needs for our children. How can I be a fully present mother living in poverty, racism, & sexism? But, more importantly for me, how can I raise my baby girl believing in black love when I am seen as a lost cause, unless I find a “good” man to rescue us.
But the question still stands.
I should have known better. Knowing all of the challenges, why did I choice to mother a child without a father?
The truth is that as a black caribbean girl, growing up in the hood, my pick of the litter was not the same as those who had access to “better” neighborhoods or “better” schools. Most of my closet friends grew up without their fathers, whether he was physically there or not, doesn’t attest to the affects of White Supremacist Capitalistic Patriarchy on black mental health & livelihood. If I don't care for myself, I cannot care for my child. It's simple arithmetic.
I was not in the gifted & talented programs or went to prestigious schools. I went to my zone school, down the block, or less than a mile away from my home, so I had to pay half fare for the MTA. I am a result of free lunches, public housing, & the thick rack of government cheese that made the best melted cheese over mi mangu breakfasts.
People tend to NOT see the privilege in living in "better" neighborhoods & how that affects the kinds of partners we attract.
We blame the government or society for everything but that, bc somehow I have a choice in picking who I decide to father a child with. & yes, although there is some truth to that, the majority of it is bullshit.
It’s a numbers game, really. It is less likely that I would choose a “good” man bc “good” people aren't made in the American hood. Those who are, made it in spite of it.
So, babymamas, the next time you feel guilt & shame for conceiving with a man, most call a deadbeat, remember that you didn't create that man. However, you did create them children. Learn from the challenges & circumvent it.
That's the only reason why I am still here with child.