Not Born To Breed-Part II

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.

 

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A native Seattleite and recent East Coast transplant, I have been interested in politics, religion, and race from the day I saw “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” on the bookshelf belonging to my BFF’s mom back in 1991. While my zealotry has thankfully diminished with maturity, I remain the deep thinking, passionate, and humble woman I have always been. I reside in the suburbs of NYC with my husband, daughter, and our two feisty but deeply loved cats.

5 thoughts on “Not Born To Breed-Part II

  1. makes sense!

    BTW, when I clicked on your post on Feedly it says your domain name expired, but thankfully it gave a way for me to still find your posts. 🙂

  2. Howdy. I wanted to comment on your post. It was a really interesting read, and I can honestly say that my experience as a 17 year old teen mom mirrors yours a lot. What baffles me to this day about my situation was how my son’s father came from a two parent home and still went the multiple baby mom route. His father is a hard-working man w/ integrity and his mom was a nurse. Together they raised 5 children and each child’s name started with the same letter as the father. I didn’t understand how what seemed to be a good upbringing could morph into the situation I experienced with him (social environment outside the home I guess). Ultimately, a family might have been possible with him, but by the time he started to show interest in a family I had moved on.

    He later died and I gave my son up for adoption.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that not all environments are breeder cultures. There was absolutely no expectation from anyone that I have another child, and yet, I’ve seen women I encountered growing up fall into that unmarried, breeder pattern. You were smart, because you knew you didn’t want that for your future. And thus, made choices to ensure your didn’t continue to have children before you had a sound structure in place.

    As an atheist, I realize that some cultural standards embedded in religion are here to save and promote healthy communities. I realize that promiscuity outside of marriage often leads to emotional harm and unwanted pregnancies for women. I am an advocate of waiting until marriage although I know that it is unrealistic in many cases. I also believe wholeheartedly in taking preventative measures even if premarital chastity isn’t a part of the equation.

    The bottom line is that people have got to do better in planning families responsibly. That Iyanla-Fix-My-Life debacle that just broadcasted on OWN was really heartbreaking. People suffer, and a lot of times its because of what we did to ourselves and/or to others.

    Similar to you, I know that my worth and purpose goes beyond being a breeder. My reproductive capabilities are just a small aspect of what I’m capable of creating and engaging in during my lifetime. I want to live a constructive, productive life that contributes something meaningful to the world. Spitting out a brood of babies I can’t adequately provide/care for is not a part of what I consider to be a good life.

    Thank you so much for the posts!

  3. Thank you for commenting and sharing your experience Kay! The topic of family planning and reproductive choice can be a minefield among Black Americans due to our culture and history but it’s something we MUST confront.

  4. “As an atheist, I realize that some cultural standards embedded in religion are here to save and promote healthy communities. I realize that promiscuity outside of marriage often leads to emotional harm and unwanted pregnancies for women. I am an advocate of waiting until marriage although I know that it is unrealistic in many cases. I also believe wholeheartedly in taking preventative measures even if premarital chastity isn’t a part of the equation.”

    I share your views on this Kay. Though I do believe that adults should be free to make their own choices I also know that those choices come with consequences when it comes to sex. I think that was one downside to the sexual revolution. There has to be some moderate ground.

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