You know, being a single mom was not something I signed up for at all. But I realized in the filming of Tyler Perry's The Single Moms Club that being a single mom is not something to be ashamed of, nor is it a scarlet letter to be worn as if you couldn't hack it as a wife or significant other.
While filming my life went from wife and mother to single mom and now ex-wife. It had to be divine order that I would work with someone I admired so much, Nia Long, and she was a single mother too and had been for a while. She became my sounding board, my advice giver and my rock during our time filming. One of the main reasons I was staying in my marriage longer than I should have is because I've read so many articles making it seem that being a single mother -- especially a single, Black mother -- is nothing more than perpetuation of a stereotype or the proof of some statistics of some dude in an office telling his version of today's single mothers through his scientific findings and relaying it to the masses.
Let me tell you something: I was married and I loved being married. I just didn't like the marriage. I chose to walk away after trying my best to not be a statistic, or as they like to call us "baby mommas." I am no one's "baby momma," I am a mother to a beautiful son, and I just so happen to now be single. In this day and age with marriage not being the "stylish" thing to do and so many single successful women of all races who choose not to drink the juice being passed around these days that makes a good woman decide it's cool to be someone's "side chick" or "jump-off," many more women are choosing to be single mothers. The single mother is no longer the chick you see sitting outside the projects while her six kids run around. Yes, we still have single mommas in the hood holding it down, but you also have single mothers taking their kids to school or football practice in the Benz they paid for and tucking their kids into bed at night in the house in her name.
I know a lot of people may say this is tearing down the family structure of our communities, that women are making it a choice to bring children into the world without a ring or a live-in father. But let me say that one -- I would've loved to give my son that traditional household, but it takes two to tango and you can't do the tango by yourself. And secondly, though it may not be "traditional," many single mothers like myself and my friend Kym Whitley for instance are blessed to have a village of incredible men and women in our lives that love us and our child enough to step up and help us raise our kids and be awesome role models too. I always joke a bit about my son that one day he'll be in a school recital or playing in a game and they will ask him, "Is your Dad here?" and he'll point to the stands or audience and say "Yes, THEY'RE all over there." I feel blessed to know that my son has a plethora of incredible men, who I call my "brothers" to look up to that love him and want to be in his life. It does take a village to raise a child and one hell of a village to raise a black boy. He will see all that he can be because his uncles are a rainbow of possibilities. He has actors, singers, fireman, lawyers, screenwriters, athletes, business men and just plain ole good, hardworking men in his life. They are black, white, Latino, straight, gay, educated, articulate, fathers and fraternity men, and I am happy that my son will learn acceptance, empathy and compassion from them all.
Those days when a women who became pregnant without a husband was sent away in the middle of the night are over. Those days a single mother was referred to as being a "bad" girl or woman who lost her way is over. We are CEOs, actresses, lawyers, comedians, teachers, doctors, bus drivers and all of the above rising to the occasions every day to raise happy, productive human beings in this world. So all the naysayers wanting to put us in a box, label us and feel sorry for us can "kick rocks."
So many of this world's most successful people, including our President, Barack Obama, were raised by single mothers. Yes it's hard doing it all by yourself, especially when the father is living and breathing but has somehow forgotten they have a child, but no real single mother has the time to hold a pity party because she's too busy raising her babies! Real single mothers don't have time to sit around being bitter about what didn't work out because she is too busy raising her babies! Real single mothers aren't out here trying to compete with single chicks for the one baller in the club because she is too busy raising her babies! Real single mothers know what a 529 is and even its five dollars they are putting something away for their babies! Real single mothers come in all shapes sizes, colors, backgrounds, religions and circumstances but the one thing we all have in common is RAISING OUR BABIES!
So in conclusion of my "keeping it real" moment, I say that single mothers are not your tragedy or woe-is-me Lifetime movie. We are women who in spite of whatever circumstances made us a single mother, choose to do whatever is necessary to RAISE OUR BABIES!