Aug 31, 2022 Dear Mamas…
We understand. Even when things don’t go as planned, we understand. Even when us wanting to have our voices heard too, feels like we’re not listening to yours, we still understand. The most manipulated narrative is that we come into these discussions to compete, when it’s really to complete. It’s to give the full experience so we can develop together. Heal together. Build forever! Especially the fathers that want to figure it out. Whether we failed or succeeded as boyfriends or husbands, whether you failed or succeeded as girlfriends or wives, the common denominator should be that we’re all determined to not fail as parents.
Last week, myself and two other fathers, had the privilege of going on “The Millennial Mommies Club”, a podcast about the experience of moms in today’s society created and hosted by Bri Harmon. The most impressive thing to me was how Bri seemed to effortlessly allow space for every voice in every conversation. Whether she agreed with us, disagreed with us, empathized with us, or was triggered by us, she gave the space for not only our voices to be heard, but her voice and all the mothers around the world with different point of views on all the topics to be heard too. She stood her ground but it never felt like war.
I’ve been at my wits end for almost a decade now. While maneuvering my own co-parenting situation, I’ve spent more time than not examining the experience of black love, black parenting, and black parenting post breakup. As something I feel like I’ve never succeeded at myself, the fact that now our community has majority “broken homes” has been something I’ve obsessed about. Truth be told, my son is proof of what having two loving parents can produce. He’s perfect. I’m biased, but he’s perfect. He’s just as unique as he is well mannered. He’s just as compassionate as he is clever. He’s the best part of two parents who weren’t made to be together. I spent years trying to figure out if we ever were or if we just grew apart but what has really plagued me is how do we overcome the scars we gave each other in the process. That’s what’s most consistent in these conversations than anything else (except in Eks’ case), the scars. As men and women first, then as individuals second, we have all treated our wounds differently. Some of us used band aids, some didn’t. Some of us used cocoa butter, some didn’t. Then, outside of how we healed on the surface, how did the wound heal on the inside… or did it?
When you realize that you’ll never know the answers to certain questions, it’s a frustrating but cathartic thing. You eventually get past the “why it didn’t work?” question, hopefully, and in the process there’s some learning there, but you never really get a definite answer. The trick, I think, as parents is to stop punishing each other because we’re frustrated with not knowing the answer. Having more conversations like this is what’s needed, even if it leads to arguments in your personal life, it helps just to get another perspective. I’ve grown to understand the pain of a mother even if I didn’t cause it, from forcing myself to have these conversations. That helps me reconcile some of the pain I did cause. I’ve never looked at myself as a victim, one of my favorite personal quotes is
“Be a man or a victim. You can’t be both”
but I have spent many days as a father misunderstanding and being misunderstood. A lot of that comes from both of our egos and the timing of when the other is ready to talk, ready to listen, ready to forgive, ready to be better partners in parenting, amongst other things. And those times aren’t infinite. You think once you have a breakthrough in communication, you never go back to the days of miscommunicating; that’s the furthest thing from the truth. As long as the intent to understand is there on my side, or your side, that’s all we can hope for.
A lot of people stay together for the kids, I don’t necessarily agree with that, but I understand. My advice is to communicate better for the kids. That applies to any kind of relationship you have with your partner in parenting. The main ingredient to communication is listening, not talking, so start listening. I say that to myself too. Reach out to people or watch content of people who speak from a place of finding peace instead of placing blame. Be accountable without beating yourself up for whatever part you played in the bad communication. And lastly, don’t let the good make you or the bad break you. This is a journey where we will all need help and need to be heard… and we all need the mamas!
Just my thoughts