People give me the funniest look when I tell them my son lives with his father…in North Carolina of all places LOL! I am here in the mitten (Michigan, for the geographically challenged) and he lives 617 miles away from his mama. It has been this way since he was 5 years old; he is now 15 years old. Do I miss seeing my son everyday? Yes. Do I have a twinge of guilt every now and again that I am missing out on significant moments? Yes. But would I have it any other way? No.
Now the funny looking people I spoke about previously say one of two things, either “I commend you, because I couldn’t do it” or “So what happened?”. The old me used to go into defense mode, giving a rundown as to the who, what, where, why and how of OUR (yes, his father and I made the decision together) decision. Then one day I created my standard response:
“Yes, I know that as a mother people see it as a noble act to let my son live with his dad. But, I didn’t let him live with a stranger; this is his father. And although we were both young, dumb, in love and married; this is his father. If he was good enough for me to lay down and procreate, then he is good enough to be his father. And he may not have been the best husband at 25 years old; but he has always been a great father. My son and I have a relationship that is closer than most mothers and sons who live in the same house. I see him on most breaks. I know all of his hopes, dreams, fears and favorites.”
Ok, I just had to get that out of the way. Now, to the meat of this blog. For those women who didn’t make the best choices with your children’s father (myself included, but that’s for another blog). First, forgive yourself for the messy choice. Then, forgive that man for not measuring up to your expectations. Your child’s future hinges on your forgiveness. For those women who procreate with great men, but you are being Petty LaBelle or Petty White and are holding your child hostage like the last piece of chicken; stop it. Right now. Your child’s future hinges on your maturity.
I know it’s hard being a single mother. Trust me I know the struggle. But if you are raising a young man he needs his father. Young women need their daddies too. I understood that at a very fundamental level that I didn’t know most things about being a man. I was born female in every sense of the word. My son needed his father to usher him into manhood. Do I provide him with very pivotal love, support and information? Yes. But I ain’t daddy. They have their own secret man code. They understand what the other is thinking just by a coy look and a sly smile. His father has taught him how to survive being a black man in a society that will try to take away his birthright. His father has taught him how to protect his mind, body and soul while at the same time protecting his mom, step-mom and sisters. See, good folks, I ain’t daddy. I am mama. I teach but it’s from a mama’s perspective.
We have to stop giving fathers, especially black fathers a bad rap. There are some EXCELLENT fathers in our midst. Let’s highlight them. Let’s celebrate them. My 89 year old grandmother told me a long time ago that she “realized the world likes to beat down on black men, so the last thing they want to do is come home and get beat down some more, we need to love and support them”.
So cheers to the baby daddies (I hate that phrase), the fathers, the husbands, the surrogate daddies, the stand-in Papas and Pop-Pops. Who are doing it and doing it well. In the words of Jilly from Philly “we need you”.
Shoutout to my Daddy for choosing me at 3 years old when my biological father didn’t have the capacity to.