When a big ol’, sweaty, buffed-up stranger named Melvin pulled up to his backyard for the first time, Jody’s scowl almost burned a hole through him as his mother Juanita melted at the man’s very presence.
“So you got a new boyfriend now?” Jody questions his single, middle-aged mother.
Her reply was short: “Hey, mama gotta have a life too.”
This ain’t Baby Boy, but Juanita had a point.
I grew up not knowing my father, but my little brother’s dad was the closest thing I had to a solid family and appearing complete. When my mother and stepfather split, a part of me resented my mother for not staying with him and moving on (although I didn’t know all the specifics at five years old). My stepfather was all I knew and my mother’s personal choices took that away from me.
The new men came. Some didn’t manage to stay around for long, and others did–that I could still put a name and face to twenty years later. But as a child, the inconsistencies she presented to my brother and I played a role in how I thought people should enter and leave my life, too. “People come and go,” and her relationships alone served as physical evidence of that. When I had my own children, I vowed to hold on to my partner for dear life, solely for the sake of not wanting to present instability to them, even if it cost me my happiness. But we take oaths and swear by the gods at the height of our relationships, forgetting that when ‘ish hits the fan, we tend to break promises and seek solace in something new.
My mother was once Ciara. So was my grandmother. And when I separated from my children’s father two years ago, I considered pulling a CiCi and finding the happiness I thought I deserved in someone that wasn’t my children’s father, too. Contrary to popular belief and Black Twitter, life and love doesn’t cease to exist when you and your child’s father go your own ways.
I spent the last of my adolescence and my entire twenties with someone, created a beautiful family, and ended up miserable at several points. When my sons’ father and I mutually decided it was best to have some time apart, I didn’t know how to move on and felt maybe, for the sake of my children, I shouldn’t. On top of feeling like no one would date me because I came with baggage and two boys attached on the side, I didn’t want my kids to feel like they were going to get a new father. A mother’s guilt in moving on is very real.
But I learned that children won’t feel that way if you talk to them and that people have to stop believing kids aren’t as smart as they truly are. The conversation between my sons and their father consisted of a lot of “he’s always going to be daddy,” “you’re still going to see him,” and “don’t have my children calling another man their dad.” Luckily for me, my sons have a better father than I had a decent partner, and I didn’t have to worry about him not being present and active.
Which brings me to not understanding Future’s distaste in Russell Wilson. His role as Baby Future’s dad doesn’t stop because he isn’t with his son’s mother–he should know that with the other three children he has. I’ve seen enough interviews with Future discussing how much the “hood is a part of him” and how serving music catered to those communities makes him a “real ni**a”, and so he should know that men from the streets aren’t willing to take care of another man’s child, but that a real man will step up and take initiative for a child that isn’t theirs. Real should recognize real, right?
It was just two years ago that Ciara was his fiancé, and he gushed over her willingness to play nice with his the mothers of his other children. Let’s revisit Future’s words on the Russ Parr Morning Show:
“Sometimes, they [“baby mamas”] just want to beef and bring or split everyone apart. But she’s [Ciara] the kind of person who wants everyone in the same room. That’s a real woman…Sometimes when you already have kids before you’re in a relationship, a girl that just like despises your kids don’t even want them around. They jealous of your kids. She never showed that trait.”
And here we are. While we may never know exactly why and how the pair split, what’s evident is the hurt that still lingers from one party in particular. By some people’s standards, Ciara may have moved on too soon post-engagement and Baby Future to attempt to get over the breakup–or because she just wanted to–but she’s not wrong for moving on. For a black woman to extend an olive branch to her man’s other childrens’ mothers, speaks maturity. It’s sad enough that people believe “baby mamas” can’t coexist in the same space and remain peaceful for the sake of their children who are siblings and may grow up together.
If Future doesn’t want another man pushing his son around in a stroller, then he should be the man out photographed with his son. Where are their photos together? What matters most, at the end of the day, are the children. If Ciara and Future’s son is being exposed to love from both parents, where does the problem lie? That’s the only question that should be asked in any of this–what is the child being exposed to and how will it affect him?
If I were Ciara, I would hope that my son’s father had enough trust in my judgment to know that I wouldn’t put our child in danger by introducing him to someone that would have a detrimental effect on him. I would hope that the man that made a conscious decision to put a ring on my finger and help me bring life into this world, would think of me as a woman with good enough sense to make healthy choices. I would wish that my son’s father had enough love for me to be happy as I had enough love for him to be cordial with the mothers of his other children. And I also would hope that in a country where the stigma of “absent black fathers” run rampant in our communities, he would see that having another positive figure in our child’s life is simply demystifying the belief that our men aren’t doing enough.
Russell Wilson knew what he was signing up for when he moseyed on over to Ciara: accept the package deal or take nothing at all. Ciara knew what she was signing up for when she settled into a relationship with a man who had three children by three different women: accept the package deal or take nothing at all. It seems the only one stuck in the past is Future who appears to have it all, but without love and eye candy on his arm, has nothing at all. –Erica Nichole (@EDotNichole)