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!