A Family Affair
“Your girlfriend is a good one, I couldn’t do it,” said my friend as we discussed my daughter’s pending arrival and what it would mean for my girlfriend and I. “What kind of toll will this take on your relationship” she pressed on, but I had to interject right then and there. ”You couldn’t do what?” I asked already knowing exactly what she meant. “Raise a child with another woman, an ex-girlfriend, of all people? I implored her to elaborate. By then, I wanted to take it a step further so I asked what made her think that I or anyone else would want to undertake such a life changing experience with her anyway.” I was deep in my feelings despite the fact that we were good friends and she was giving me a harsh dose of the kind of reality I would be met with time and time again. I knew it wouldn’t be the last time questions like those would be raised and I had to stop getting frustrated because most people simply didn’t understand, and her sentiments were in the majority anyway. Why would my girlfriend agree with me co-parenting with an ex? Because she loves me. Because through effective communication and unselfish love absolutely anything is possible. It’s not quite that simple in practice, but it’s the approach I took from start to finish and it’s guided us to the point we’re currently at.
“Can you write a pimp manual or something because I wanna know how you plan to pull that off,” is another response I’ve been met with when I reveal that we will all be living together, under one roof,during my daughter’s formative years. I will admit that the underlying relationship shared between the three of us is more than a little unique, but that’s a story for another blog.
What I assume most people don’t realize is that every aspect of this undertaking has been discussed at length, in depth, and every decision had been agreed upon by all parties involved, most importantly, my girlfriend. Trust. It has taken time, but this process would not have been as smooth had the trust levels been non-existent. That is the glue that relationships and co-parenting agreements are made of. Relationships, like families, are fluid in that there is no one size fits all as it relates to raising a family and nurturing your child to the best of everyone’s ability.
“Oh, she must be white because I don’t know any black woman that would agree to such a thing” “And that’s probably why you’re a single mom, raising a child on your own due to preconceived hang ups about what it truly takes to make a family, but that’s none of my business though, right? Certainly not all black women would dare agree to “such a thing,” but some very well would if they felt it served a child’s best interest. Besides, my girlfriend’s race has absolutely nothing to do with her willingness and desire to accept me raising a child with another woman. She has been a vital part of every step we’ve taken on this journey.
One thing that struck a nerve is that during my childhood there was a serious sense of disconnect from my dad’s second wife. I felt zero affection or emotion coming from her as a kid, and well into adulthood, and I ultimately came to believe that no one could ever fill my moms role, but the effects linger on. My dad’s wife did not savor her role as a step-patent. A role my girlfriend has thoroughly embraced to my absolute delight.
There’s what you want for your child’s future on the one hand, and what the future will actually hold on the other. As adults we have so many needs of our own.We get lonely, sad, need someone to share our thoughts with, confide in, and a new baby can impede upon all of that. Despite that, the love and nurturing I provide to my little girl is absolutely all that matters to me in the end.
While I respect everyone’s opinion, even the stupid ones, I think people should understand that babies are little people that deserve more a little bit if there’s more than a little bit to give. The decision to co-parent was not arrived at easily, for starters, it is a very serious commitment and it’s naive to think otherwise.
My reasons for wanting to become a parent have everything to do with my familial upbringing, my personal belief system that all children deserve our best, my financial capability, academic successes and aspirations, mental and physical well being, and the unconditional love and support that exists within my relationship. Last but not least, not letting what I consider to be a once in a lifetime opportunity pass me by.
Every time I look into my little daughter’s eyes, I have no doubt that I made the right decision. There is no mistake. She is a blessing in every sense of the word, for my heart tells me so.