Motherhood before Marriage

Okay, I’m on another tangent after reading this story in the New York Times this weekend. So, here’s my deal…

I remember when I was in college and my girlfriend had just given birth to her second child out of wedlock. A baby girl with the biggest brown eyes I had ever seen. She was a stunningly beautiful child. I smiled, held her close and inhaled her intoxicating baby scent. She was one of God’s greatest creations and I was in love. I wanted to be a mom someday. What followed next caught me by surprise.

My girlfriend’s mother was in the room while I was holding the baby and she asked me, “When do you plan on having a baby?” I was momentarily caught off guard because I thought that would be an absurd question considering that I wasn’t even married. I politely responded, “When I get married.” Later that night, I talked to my mother and told her about the incident. I asked my mother, “Why would people assume that I would want to be a mother without being a wife?” She simply replied, “Environment. Times have changed and black women seem to be okay with having children out of a wedlock.”
Years later, I married the man God chose for me. Neither one of us was prepared for the journey that marriage would take us on, but one thing for sure was that we knew we wanted to enjoy the ride together. My husband wanted children immediately after our wedding and I said, “No, I don’t want children before I’m 30.” Well, 30 came quickly and my husband still wanted a baby. I pushed and paused and said, “Do you know most marriages end in divorce in the first five years? I want to wait.” He had no choice because it was my body and I wasn’t ready to be a mother, but he wasn’t pleased. It wasn’t until after our five year anniversary that I got the news from my ob/gyn that if we wanted to have children we needed to get started. She explained to me how Hollywood glamorized that you could have children well into your 40’s, but that is not always the case with all women and that given my medical history it would be difficult for me to continue to wait. She asked me what are you waiting for?
Almost five years later, I have finally figured out what the answer to that question. I was afraid. I didn’t want to be a single parent. I didn’t want to raise my child alone. I know that nothing is guaranteed (including marriage), but I didn’t get married to do it on my own. Marriage is a partnership and I need my partner. I need to be able to have “me time” and still be a good mom with an active role in my child’s life. Even now, that is a source of pain in my marriage. I’m afraid of having another child because what if my husband and I don’t work out? I know we’ve been married almost 10 years, but people divorce all the time. Or, what if he dies? Can I be the emotional anchor my children need after burying the man who promised me forever? Can I realistically afford to take care of two children by myself? I don’t want to be a single mother.
It’s years later, but many women, especially black women continue to think that single motherhood is the norm. Why? Because you have people like Halle Berry, Kourtney Kardashian, and Jamie Lynn Spears and many others having children out of wedlock. Shouldn’t you want your child to be born in wedlock? I know it seems like everyone has illegitimate children running around nowadays, but aren’t we missing the fact that we are raising a generation of children with no sense of marriage and two parent households? There is nothing normal about raising children all on your own without ever being married. The fact that 73% of black children are born out of wedlock is astronomical. We need to do something about these numbers. Is it lack of education or a cultural phenomenon? This is out of control! I’m raising a son who if he is lucky enough to find a wife, he will find slim pickings among eligible females who don’t have children.

This is not meant to bash women who are raising children on their own, but to help me and the rest of society understand why would you want to be a mom before a wife? I hate when people say that marriage is just a piece of paper and doesn’t mean anything. That is a falsehood. A wife is entitled to make the decisions regarding her husband in case of emergency, collect his pension and be recognized for the fact that she legally married. The Bible says in Proverbs 18:22, “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.” We should all want favor from the Lord.

So, this is a call to arms to women because we are the givers of life. We birth society and all the troubles that come with it. We shoulder the burdens of life and keep it moving. More importantly, we need to make the decision to scream “I will be a wife before a baby’s mama!”

Trust me, you’re worth it!
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Valentine’s Day – The Fall of Man

Valentine’s Day is not a day for men! All the commercials: candy, jewelry, cars and flowers are geared towards women. While I loved Valentine’s Day BB (before Brennan), I now realize it as a day for people who don’t show love all year through to try to outshine one another. We have become a society of show-offs. Here’s where I tell you that before you think I’m bitter and my spouse doesn’t show me love on V-Day, I must tell you that you are wrong! Each year, my hubby falls prey (like many men) to show how much he loves me by spending the most on a beautiful bouquet or doing something incredibly romantic. I love it and I appreciate it, however, I don’t want my son to believe that this day represents the day you go over board or you are considered less than genuine in your affections if you don’t spend half your salary. Love in itself is the greatest gift and showing you love and appreciate someone all year round is better than once a year.

So, as I was gearing up for Brennan’s annual Friendship Day Festivities, i.e. Valentine’s Day Party at day care, I was reminded of the importance of showing your appreciation for those around you. I went to Hallmark and picked out some Valentine’s Day cards to distribute to his classmates. The choices were slim. There were no cards that said,
Hey, we’re too young to know what love is, but our parents felt pressured to give you something for Valentine’s Day, so accept this card and know I like having you around.
or even…
Roses are red, violets are blue, Valentine’s Day is for suckers and here’s one for you
(attach a lollipop of course)
I found two packs of cards with dogs on them, but they were geared for a little boy to give to another little girl. Where were the cute generic cards for kids? You know the ones that said…
I like trucks and racing cars,
I like looking up at the stars,
I like dinosaurs and frogs and movies too,
but most of all I like being a pal to you.

Happy Valentine’s Day!
Do you see why I say it’s a day for women? Even my 3 year old son will have a hard time navigating Valentine’s Day in a society that values money over thoughtfulness. My desire is to make sure that my son knows that he is valued for who is and not for what he can do for others. No more money to Hallmark. I’m going to make my own Valentine’s Day cards from now on. I’m sure his classmates and teachers will appreciate the thought.

A Bucket List?

I was reading on a parenting website about parents creating a “bucket list” of sorts for their children. The “bucket list” is things they would like to do with their children before they become adults. I was surprised at some of the responses from parents from fishing in Alaska to an African Safari to making sure to kiss and hug them every night before they go to bed. So, reading this article got me to thinking…what things do I want to do with Brennan before he becomes an adult?

I came up with a list of 21 things that I would like to do with Brennan by the time he’s 21. It is in no real order except number one. I would like to accomplish each and every item with him. I know that technically he will be an adult at 18, but we all know that you’re not truly an adult until you can legally take a drink. Here is my bucket list of the top 21 things I want to do with Brennan by the time he’s 21:
  1. Tell, show and help him understand about God. I want him to see and recognize that we are not alone and that God is the center of our life and all things are possible through him. He needs to experience the church, the Bible and the unmovable faith that his father and I have in God.
  2. Take him to Europe. I love the thought of travelling to Europe to explore the countryside, architecture, the Louvre, the Vatican and all the other landmarks that I have only read about. I want ten days so we can spend it on a trek through Europe just exploring.
  3. Take him on a trek through the slave trade. We know we came from Africa, but where? I want to chase our ancestry back to Africa and follow the trail from Africa to Portugal to the U.S. I learned when I was in college that my ancestry could be traced as far back to Portugal. I want to go further.
  4. Teach him to appreciate his heritage and explore many other cultures. I think you become well-rounded when you know many different civilizations other than your own. After all Mahatma Gandhi said, “No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive.”
  5. Teach him to speak another language fluently. Oh, how I wish I could speak another language fluently. The world is ever changing and the gift of being bi-lingual is one that he will appreciate throughout his lifetime.
  6. Take him to explore two states each summer. He needs to travel out of his comfort zone and see America the Beautiful. I want to increase his love for this country.
  7. Teach him how to swim. This is one item that we will never falter on. I can’t stand the thought of him not knowing how to swim.
  8. Teach him how to share. I want him to share not only his toys, but his time, his wealth and his abilities. I want him to know that God loves a cheerful giver and it is your right as a human to help others.
  9. Take him to the Caribbean. I want to watch him stick his feet in the water and his toes get sand in between them on the beaches of Mexico or the Bahamas.
  10. Take him to Disney World. I think that every child should experience Mickey’s hand on theirs or running through Cinderella’s castle. After all, he looks at my wedding photos (with my tiara) and says, “My mommy is a princess”.
  11. Teach him how to fight. I know many of you think fighting is bad and I agree that violence doesn’t solve anything, but I want him to be a strong fighter physically and mentally. I want him to learn how to defend himself against a bully. The best lesson I ever learned is that once you knock someone out, they don’t want to fight you anymore.
  12. Teach him how to love. I think children are taught the fundamental principles of love from their parents. I want him to see the love in my eyes that I have for him and the love I have for his dad. That is the love that will plant it’s way in his heart and make him crave what his parents have. I want him to know that heartache is a part of life and that you have to keep loving people.
  13. Teach him how to forgive. This is one lesson that is often overlooked when it comes to parenting. We are so busy teaching our children not to be bullies, play sports or play an instrument that we forget that they ultimately need to know that forgiveness frees you to move on. If God forgives me for sins how can I not forgive others?
  14. Teach him the importance of family. Your family is what you make it. It’s not always blood, but it could be your friends who become your family. We have a great group of people who love and support us at every turn and we want the same thing for Brennan. We want him to see that he needs to strengthen his familial bonds and keep in touch via handwritten letters, emails, calls and visits.
  15. Take him to Spain. I love the country of Spain and even though I can’t remember it much from childhood, I think it is a beautiful place full of great food, people and culture. I want him to swim off the Canary Islands.
  16. Teach him how to cook and sew. I know he’s a boy, but come on. He needs to know how to hem a pair of slacks and cook himself a meal so that he won’t have to wait on a woman to do it. He needs to be self-sufficient.
  17. Teach him the importance of money. I think that all parents should strive to teach your child how to balance a checkbook, credit and debt. It wasn’t a lesson we learned and we’re trying to rebuild for him.
  18. Teach him about politics. Not what political party he should be a part of, but the necessary fundamentals of our government so that he can be a concerned citizen that believes in exercising his right to vote.
  19. Teach him the lesson of defeat. Life is not fair and you won’t win at everything, but understand that you are the captain of your soul and it’s not always the destination, but the journey. Learn from every loss and regroup. I want him to know that you don’t have to be perfect, just try your best.
  20. Teach him the importance of abstinence. Abstinence may be a distant memory or myth in some circles and I know he may never listen to me, but I want him to know that his body is a temple and that if he waits on a wife, he will be giving her the best gift ever…the gift of him.
  21. Take him to Las Vegas to celebrate his 21st birthday. I want his last birthday party to be one that I throw for him and 21 of his friends in Las Vegas.
Whew! That is an exhaustive list. I hope that I can cross of all of the things on his bucket list. So, what’s on your child’s bucket list?