A few weeks ago I found myself sucked into an episode of Love and Hip Hollywood desperately seeking a show that didn’t include animated characters singing soprano after my 2-year-old passed out for a nap. I tuned in just in time to see the baby daddy drama unfold between Masika and rapper Fetty Wap as she complained about his participation in her pregnancy pretty much ending after the sperm reached the egg. I resisted the urge to be judgmental as I scrolled through my Twitter feed where fans expressed they weren’t surprised at Fetty’s part time fatherhood and the motives behind the whole relationship in the first place. In a confessional, Masika then expressed something along the lines of wanting better for her unborn child. It was them it hit me:
“I wish more women would have this conversation with themselves long before they find themselves missing periods and making prenatal appointments.”
Don’t get me wrong, it was completely unplanned when I found out I was pregnant almost with my daughter almost 3 years ago. There I was sitting on the toilet staring at those two pink lines thinking, “When? How? What Now?” And although it wasn’t as scheduled as I’d have liked it to be, I managed to have a happy pregnancy and a fully supported transition into motherhood thanks to my partner, family and friends. But honestly, I’d have to say much of what made my unplanned pregnancy stress and drama free were the decisions I made for myself long before I even thought of being someone’s mother.
See a big part of what makes someone a good parent is being a fairly decent adult. And part of successfully adult-ing is not allowing things for yourself (especially in relationships) that you don’t see fit for your child. You can’t be sexually involved with a man who is a liar, unfaithful and doesn’t take care of his responsibilities then be surprised when your pregnancy doesn’t suddenly transform him into father of the year.
Every decision made in your adult life doesn’t need to be dependent on the idea that you may be someone’s mom one day. In my 20’s I dated men who I knew were no damn good. I spent money on trips and clothes to the point where I had to survive on Chef Boyardee for weeks at a time. But behind the fails and “figuring it all out” of my twenties was the idea that if I was going to parent one day I didn’t want to have to work on my whole life while planning for childbirth. So at some point I tried to get my career in order, and get “living life” out of my system so I wouldn’t find myself resenting my child while breastfeeding one day and thinking about the trips I should’ve taken or degrees I wish I went for. Having children doesn’t make these things impossible but it can make them harder to do. Part of being a good parent is being as balanced you can be beforehand (because kids will definitely test your best made plans). And even more so it’s about realizing that although you can do it by yourself, you shouldn’t have to and a good partner will make parenting easier and not force you to parent with a child at the same time you’re raising one. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve dated some men that I look back and think, “I’m so glad God saved me from co-parenting with THAT one.” As a young woman you’re perfectly welcome to date men who who might be A-list lovers, but fail at fatherhood. But the best way to choose a good father for your child, is to choose a good man for yourself which requires some time to see past a sexy smile and bomb tongue game.
What I think parenthood has taught me most about preparation is that you’re going to make mistakes, that’s inevitable, but you want to avoid making them on your kids’ time. And although I’m still learning something new each day, I must admit getting my ish together before motherhood is what took away a good portion of the stress and struggles that I witness some women experiencing as they grow into their womanhood while conquering motherhood. In addition, my husband and I are still navigating a new marriage, but we’re not dealing with the trust issues or social media drama I might have been while dating me in my twenties. We’re not completely settled in life and our toddler reminds us how much we don’t know about parenthood on a daily basis, but we’re not exactly sitting around trying to figure life out either. Part of our jobs as parents is to give our daughter direction. We may get lost from time to time, but we’ve at least got a gameplan to refer to. Because when it comes to parenting, just winging it won’t always work.
Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog, Bullets and Blessings.
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