I scrolled past the comment you left under the beautiful photo of Ciara and Russell Wilson’s family. I wish I could say yours was the only one of its kind but there were many others just like it, seething with hatred at a Black man taking care of another Black man’s son. The gull, right! The audacity of another man to step in where you fail. But I digress.
I appreciate the fact that you were so honest about your feelings, expressing them in such a public forum. That either takes a lot of guts or a lot of guilt. But now we need to talk about why your feelings are unwarranted and moronic. Why they’re damaging and unhealthy. Why they need to be addressed. I could be wrong in assuming you inherited these toxic views from men who came before you, men who also didn’t know any better, but I doubt that. And since those men obviously did a piss poor job of educating you on some of the basic facts of life and relationships, I thought I’d take a swing at it.
For starters, you seem to be a little confused about the definition of bodily autonomy. I propose we start there. The concept of bodily autonomy is one that highlights the importance of self-determination, control over one’s own body. In other words, having a child with a woman does not make you her lord and savior, nor does it make her your property. That woman has just as much say over her person as she did before you two shared a child, and no matter how many children she carries of yours, that will never change. That means she is free to date as she pleases, marry as she pleases, and create the home environment that she deems fit for the child, no matter how insignificant or insecure that makes you feel. She’s not your baby mom, she’s not your anything, she is the mother of your child and that’s where your connection to her ends. The only things you took from that relationship were your garbage bag of clothes and a dependent, nothing more. But fret not, there is a silver lining in this. Body autonomy works both ways! You, too, get to move about the cabin of your life without having to have your every move approved by your ex-lover. Isn’t bodily autonomy great? Now this can be a difficult concept to grasp but it’s very important you fully comprehend. So let’s recap before we proceed:
1. Your child’s mother is not your belonging.
2. You have no say over the personal decisions of another adult with whom you have no relationship.
3. There’s is absolutely nothing you can do about either of these truths.
Now let’s move on to this part: “Be happy and sh-t but don’t involve my son in your sh-t.”
OK, so how does that work? How does a mother not involve her child in her life, sir? Should the child be pushed off to the side while the “real” family members snap a candid? Should he be restricted from forming and maintaining a relationship with his mother’s spouse, a permanent fixture in his life? Should your child be punished for your inability to maintain a stable household as his biological father and as a partner? Why does the mother of your child have to live a secluded, unaccompanied life in order for you to feel respected? And why is your ego the focus of this whole conversation, friend? I’m not going to lie to you, I was pretty appalled at your comment. As a mother myself, I couldn’t imagine wishing a lesser quality of life on my son simply because his father and I failed to sustain a romantic relationship. Chances are, the relationship was failing way before the child entered the picture. But even if it wasn’t, it’s common knowledge that a strong marriage is the healthiest thing you can give your child.
Children feel secure and loved when raised around two committed individuals who work as a team, take interest in each other, put forth effort, and display both respect and affection. Don’t you want that demonstrated for your child? I mean, it would be wrong of me to assume that you don’t but your words paint a very different picture. These are the words of a man who hates the mother of his child way more than he loves his child. Otherwise, you would have long accepted that in a blended family, creating the best environment for a child often comes at the expense of some of our personal convictions. Blended family, by default, means you don’t get to have it all, at least not in the orthodox way society says you need to. But it doesn’t mean you have to maintain drama for 18 years, it doesn’t mean a child is doomed to dysfunction, and it doesn’t mean you get to be a point of contention in your child’s life due to your insecurities. Deal with your own daddy/mommy issues or excuse yourself from the table, it’s that simple.
Some of your friends in the comments were eager to point out that not everyone in the family photo shared the same last name, as if that wasn’t ridiculously obvious. But many couldn’t deny that the facial similarities between the entire group were striking. Almost like the child started to morph into a miniature version of his step-father. The blasphemy! I’m sure that bothers you, friend. Not only is some random guy sweeping your ex lover off her feet, but your kid is smitten on top of that! But rest assured, neither is a slight against you, it’s simple science. Zajonc’s theory of emotional face-mirroring is based on the basic principle that found that we imitate the people we’re around the most. “Unconscious mimicry,” as we know the phenomena to be called, is why we unconsciously take on the tone and frequency of our friends, copy our boyfriend’s stance or walk, and begin to look like our spouses. It’s meant to bond us and make us feel part of a group….like a family. See friend, this isn’t even about you. And the crazy thing is you, too, could imprint on your child, if only you took the time to be around him. The irony.
Now that we’ve cleared up all of the confusion, talk to me friend. Tell me what you’re really mad about. Was it your hope that the world would view your child’s mother through your distorted lens? Did you intend to punish your child’s mother with single motherhood? Did you think your were the only man who could provide for, nurture and cultivate a family with her? Why the emotional investment everywhere but where it matters? It just seems to me that if I were unable or unwilling to parent my child to the best of my ability, and a woman with no biological attachment stepped in and offered my child the love, guidance and consistency that he needed, I’d be thanking my lucky stars. It’s not just about paying bills and cooking meals, children are exhausting. Kids ask the same question a million different ways. Kids cry uncontrollably for reasons you can’t decipher. Kids will look at identical plates of food and still find a way to eat yours. Kids have sticky hands 78% of the time and love to touch your face. Kids are allergic to white clothes. Kids are allergic to quiet. Kids will terrorize you all day long and have you watching them as they sleep at the end of the night. They wet the bed a million times, they watch the minions so much you know all the songs, and they’re prewired to do the opposite of everything you say. Being a parent gets you no praise, it is all work and minimal reward. But when you love a child, none of that makes any difference.
Do you love your child, friend? If you did, I can’t imagine you taking issue with another person loving them too. What child, especially a Black male child, doesn’t need to be surrounded by people who genuinely love them, biologically or otherwise? Or is that too big a gut check for you, watching another man succeed where you failed? Whatever the case, you can’t change it and the more you gripe about it the crazier you look. You’d be better directing that misguided energy towards some self-help or counseling. Pick up a new hobby, re-establish a healthy relationship with your child. Take stepdad out to lunch and get to know the man who’s taken on the arduous task of raising the child you created. And when you get over your sh-t and realize how big of a favor he did you, a hefty “Thank You” will be in order.