It’s been a little over ten years since my daughter was born. During that time I’ve heard a constant question from my friends and family: so when are you going to have another one? The issue of the environment that said child would be coming into is never a concern to those who pressure me to have one. Indeed, the request that I give my daughter a sibling continued even after my ex-husband returned to his native country and I became a single parent. In light of my specific situation-which is known to all in my circle-the talk about me becoming a mother again amazes me! But to friends, family and even some men who I’ve dated the notion of an already-stressed single mom choosing to have more children is reasonable. This belief has been expressed with such fervency that I’ve wondered if maybe I’m the one with the problem! I think to myself where they do that at? But I already know the answer. It’s done among those of the class I was born into. We don’t view ill-prepared for parenting as an unhealthy dysfunction; it is viewed as the norm.
It’s not that I dislike being a mother. Nor am I immune to bouts of baby fever. When I see pictures of thick-haired, angel-eyed black baby girls my ovaries leap. However my experience as both an older sibling and a mother lets me know that babies are much more than the soft, cute, sweet-smelling bundles of flesh that they are at birth. Sweet-smelling babies grow into children who grow into teenagers who grow into adults. The process of molding an individual from that stage into a balanced, upstanding citizen is an intense one which requires a serious physical, emotional and financial investment on the behalf of the parents. Though being the only parent isn’t easy I’m grateful for the fact I only have one. I’m raising my daughter in a very deliberate manner, and part of the reason that I’m able to do so is the fact that I’m able to give her my undivided attention. And though many around me compliment me on my parenting, I know I wouldn’t be as good of a mother if I was struggling to take care of three kids versus one.
When I dreamed of motherhood as a young girl I didn’t want it to look this way. My desire and intention was for my child to have both biological parents in the home. I wanted to be able to give my progeny the best. I never wanted them to know the kind of deprivation I felt growing up. I never wanted them to know the loneliness and inner desolation that comes with having an absentee father.It has taken me awhile to come to terms with the fact that I can only be responsible for my actions as a mom. I cannot take on the absentee parents role; nor can I make up for it. But because I love my daughter so much and want her to have everything she is entitled to that regret is still there. Each time I hug her there’s an unspoken apology to her in my touch. I’m sorry I didn’t give you a better life. I’m sorry that you are only receiving the love and resources of your maternal side. You deserved so much more and if it was up to me alone you would have had it baby.
My awareness of all that goes into raising a child-coupled with the unspoken apology detailed above-is why those who suggest I have another child are met with a resounding no each time they broach the subject. I won’t divert my love and resources away from my daughter who is already here. I won’t put myself at risk of taking on the burden of parenting another kid as a single mom. I won’t bring another child into the world while unmarried. And I’d only have another child with a man who has already given me his last name and has the desire and resources needed for us to raise a child together comfortably. The breeder mentality that has plagued those of my background is one I’ve chosen to walk away from, and I hope my example causes my daughter to do the same.