How To Become A Future Baby Mama
Potential Life-Changing Mistakes
During the first trimester of my pregnancy, one of my best friends referred to me as “Baby Mama.” She thought it was a cute way to acknowledge that I was having a baby with whom she was already in love. She also thought it was a way to show her support to me because of the absence of AJ’s father. She wanted me to know that she loves and considers my baby to be hers also, meaning she’d always be there for both of us when we need her and has since lived up to her intentions in using the nickname.
Unfortunately, days before she actually called me the name, I had read a social media post about the difference between the mother of a child and a baby mama, so my response to her nickname wasn’t at all what she expected. In response to being called “Baby Mama,” I blew up on her and refused to talk to her for about three weeks because the phrase, “Baby Mama,” had a negative connotation that had been engraved in my mind.
Okay, so first all, as a middle school English/Language Arts teacher, the horrible grammar used in this post irritates me so much that I almost didn’t add it to my story. Also, due to the context of the post, it had to be created by someone who was old enough to reproduce, which means they should have mastered proper grammar and spelling in middle school, but I digress.
The post completely shames the idea of a woman being a “Baby Mama.” The “Baby Mama’s” described characteristics were clearly negative and directly related to the failure of her relationship with her child’s father, highlighting the aftermath of her pain and enticing the reader to have a negative view of any mother who displays said characteristics while experiencing the grief of having to raise a child with, or even without, a man that she possibly once loved and now has to grow past. Needless to say, I hated the post, and I took my anger out on my poor friend, who clearly didn’t know what had set me off.
Months later, after apologizing to my friend and when I got more comfortable in my pregnancy and the idea of being a single mom, I stopped to ask myself, “Why did I get so mad at her for calling me ‘Baby Mama?’ I asked myself the hard questions. Am I mad that AJ’s father didn’t want to be with me? Would I rather that he be unhappy with me than happy with someone else? Am I going to be spiteful and try to make his life and relationship with AJ difficult every chance that I get?
Before I allowed my ego to control this self-reflection I was having and could tell myself a quick “No!” I had to stop and truly consider how I got myself into this situation and be accountable for the role I played in how it all developed. My ultimate goal was to try to see where my path of motherhood is now going, not to mention, to be able to honestly answer these questions for myself.
I made a list of all the things I knew I did wrong, all the things close friends of mine cautioned me against, which I had completely ignored:
- Investing so much of myself in someone who clearly stated that he didn’t want to be in a relationship with anyone at the time
- Lowering my standards and expectations to accommodate my low self-esteem and desire to have some kind of companionship instead of learning to be comfortable with not dating or entertaining anyone for an extended period of time
- HAVING UNPROTECTED SEX
- Expecting someone who didn’t truly respect or value me to change in order to accommodate my desire for a loving relationship
- Ignoring all of the signs, which I had noticed as early as two weeks after meeting him, that he was someone I needed to cut ties with immediately
Reviewing this list gave me the answer to my first question. I was mad. Not at AJ’s father for not wanting to be with me, but at myself. I could confidently and honestly say that I wasn’t so delusional to believe that he had to be with me simply because that’s what I thought I wanted or even because I happened to be carrying his child at the time. I was mad at myself because I had made such a fundamental mistake in losing myself in the “situationship” before it even grew into “dating” and even before I became pregnant. I had lost the dating game before I even got a chance to really play.
The next question that I had to answer for myself was whether I wanted AJ’s father to be unhappy with me instead of happy with someone else. A quick and easy answer to this question is “Of course not.” In order for me to believe when I told myself that, I also had to give myself an honest explanation of why. So I reflected on the time we spent together and things we talked about when we were discussing the option of actually building a relationship. Shamefully, I had to admit to myself that during a previous conversation we had, I was basically trying to convince him that being with me in an actual relationship would be a good thing for both of us.
I asked him, “Do you think you would be happy in a relationship with me.” He thought for a few seconds, and then replied, “Yeah. I’m sure I would...” For me, that was an easy victory because logically, if one knows how to achieve happiness, there’s no excuse not to pursue it. A moment later, he followed up with, “…but I don’t want to be in a relationship with anyone.” If I were smart, I would have severed ties immediately.
But I wasn’t, at least not in this situation. Now, after reflecting on my own shortcomings, I realize that AJ’s father is unhappy, but it’s only because that’s how he wants to feel. I find, even now in attempting to co-parent with him, which of course is like pulling teeth, that he knows the best ways to solve his problems, but he chooses not to, for whatever reason that suits him at the time. His state of unhappiness would happen with or without me in the picture. And as badly as I wanted to save him from it, I realize now that I never had that power because he chooses unhappiness for himself over and over in the decisions he makes every day, and only he can change that for himself.
Do I at least pray for him to find his happiness one day? Of course I do because his state of personal contentment may one day affect how he interacts with my daughter and even be projected onto her life. Also, thinking logically, I realized that I actually want more for myself that to be with someone I had to convince into a relationship. I don’t want to be in a relationship with any man if it isn’t a, intentional, positive, and uplifting experience for both of us because I would lose myself in trying to solve all of his problems, which I’m sure now is exactly what happened between AJ’s father and me. I completely lost myself.
So to answer to my second question, I can confidently say, “No, I wouldn’t rather that he be unhappy with me than happy with someone else” because that would be a recipe for failure.
The third question, Am I going to be spiteful and try to make his life and relationship with AJ difficult every chance that I get? was a tricky one for me to answer, mainly because of the growth I need to do as a woman and as a mother, and how it directly relates to how I currently deal with anger, but also because in answering it, I’d have to assume that he’ll change his mind one day and want to be involved in his daughter’s life. Guess what? I’m not holding my breath for that one.
Nevertheless, in answering this question, I had to be honest with myself again. Have I already made decisions out of spite? Technically, yes. Things I told myself I wouldn’t worry about became the focus of my attention because of his choice not to be a parent to AJ right now. (Remember before, I said “attempting to co-parent.” It definitely is not happening organically, and my efforts have been the only ones in existence at this point.)
Right now, I am sitting on a boiling pot of anger, and the scalding hot steam gets out occasionally. When this happens, I find myself making spiteful decisions, but ironically, still with AJ’s well-being in mind. Anytime I am considering whether or not to take action, I stop to ask myself, “How is this going to benefit AJ?” If there is no honest answer to the this question, I force myself to use self-control and try to find some other way to manage my anger. It’s hard, but I do it because I don’t want to live up to the stereotype of the “Baby Mama” in the social media post. So, to answer the first part of the question, Am I spiteful and going to try to make his life difficult every chance I get?, I’m working on controlling my spite, but realistically I don’t have to try to make his life anymore difficult than it already is because, as I mentioned before, his daily decisions are already doing that without me in the picture now.
In regards to AJ’s relationship with her father, it truly is painful for me to imagine what it will be like. I reflect on my own relationship with my father and pray daily that her experiences will be different, more positive, from my own. Then, the reality of her father’s character hits me, and I begin to fear that things will be worse for her than they ever were for me. Do I want their relationship to be difficult? Absolutely not. It would be terrible for me to watch AJ grow up with a negative relationship with the person who is supposed to teach her how to set expectations and demand respect for herself from boys and men that enter and exit her life. I can’t help but to think it’s my fault for putting her in this situation in the first place by making a poor decision for myself and essentially setting her up for failure. Do I expect her to be his “princess” or for her to grow up knowing what it’s like to be the “Daddy’s Girl” to her biological father? Answering honestly, not at all. She can’t be those things to him when he refuses to be a father to her in the first place.
What I do know turns out to be the answer to the final “Baby Mama” question: I’m not going to do anything to make the relationship any more difficult than it already is. Why not? Because I’ve clearly done enough by conceiving with him, and I don’t want to make it any worse for my child. I thank God every day that she’s not old enough yet to process and understand the reality of the situation.
So after sharing these stories and reflections, I want the women who read this to understand how I became a Baby Mama, how I made life-changing mistakes. I am not a “Baby Mama” by the standards of the social media post that angered me so much, but I still am an unmarried woman with a child by a person who never had any intentions of fostering a long-term relationship with me. As different as the two ideas are, they still are both bitter to ingest and tough to digest.
My advice to any young woman who might be lost, or maybe just in a state of confusion about a relationship she’s trying to develop can be defined in a social media post that is a lot less negative:
I spent about a year confused about the role I played in this relationship, when deep down, I always knew the truth. I finally understand that trying to force the relationship into existence caused me so many problems because it wasn’t sent by God. When I lost myself, I lost God and his plan for my life. I became the “Baby Mama” I never wanted to be. I put my faith in a person instead of trusting that my desired relationship will come in God’s timing for my life, when I’m truly ready.
Even if you’re not religious or spiritual, it is still easy to understand that what is meant to be will happen no matter what you do to try to control the situation. In the case of “How To Become a Baby Mama,” the best way to avoid the potentially life-changing mistakes is to avoid losing yourself in pursuit of another by spending your time focusing on self-improvement.