In recent years there has been a slight pattern that reoccurs in certain relationships I have had with men, that ultimately causes me to put an end to it, because I find that the hassle simply is not worth it… and this would be their baby mothers.
Now I am not saying that the fact that these guys had children before being with me is the sole reason for our break-ups (let’s be honest, it’s also partly my fault for picking the wrong men). But that same reason is why I often have to reluctantly give in to a situation that causes friction, because realistically which man would put his girlfriend before the mother of his child?
Part of me wonders whether I am being unfair in labelling some unwed mothers this way. After all, aren’t they just single women doing right by their children by trying to have the child’s father in his or her life? Or is the man to blame for the way he treats both parties? As someone who is yet to have a child of my own, I am just trying to understand the behaviours displayed by some of the women who do.
When you hear the term ‘baby mother’ does it come with positive or negative denotations? Is there a lot more to being unmarried with a child that makes someone a single mother? If you are a mother raising your child or children on your own, do your actions determine how people view you?
According to Wikipedia, the Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘Baby mama’ as: the mother of a man’s child who is not his wife or (in most cases) his current or exclusive partner.” A ‘single parent’ is defined as: “a parent who cares for one or more children without the assistance of another parent in the house.” But nowadays it seems people have their own further definitions of what a baby mother actually is, and what separates the two types, with words like ‘lazy,’ ‘jealous,’ and ‘ghetto’ thrown into the mix.
Natalie, 29, has an eight-year-old son, and considers herself a single mother. “If anyone called me a baby mother I would slap them. I am a single mother. I solely take care of my son. I buy his clothes, feed him, take him to school, help him with his homework, provide him with a home, and generally care for his well being. His father has absolutely no input in his life, and that has been his choice. I’m sure that if he even dared to mention me or my son, he would say that I am his baby mother. I have experienced what I think a baby mother is, with guys I have been out with and their exes, and that isn’t me. Baby mothers are crazy and have no life, so they allow the father of their child to take advantage of them, and then cause drama when there’s no need. They call other women’s phones, threatening them with violence if they don’t leave ‘their man’ alone, and some of them go as far as to try and have the guy arrested, because he won’t be with them. I have never behaved in such a way.”
In the U.S the word ‘drama’ almost instantly follows the term ‘baby mama,’ and not just because it rhymes. “I don’t have any kids,” says Mikki, who lives in New Jersey, “but from what I know a baby mama is a woman who has a child out of wedlock, and most of the time she thinks she is in a relationship with the man, but she isn’t. Some baby mamas resort to using the child as a weapon to get what they want from the man, and if he is in another relationship, she may try and cause trouble which then becomes ‘baby mama drama.”
For an example of a single mother, I don’t have to look very far. My own mother became a single mother of three when my father left during my teenage years. Watching her work as hard as she did, and still provide my brothers and me with pocket and lunch money has made her the strongest person I know. She could easily have done her best to cause trouble with my father and his new relationship, by demanding money and threatening to withhold any contact he had with us. Instead she held her head high and did what she had to do for her children.
Not everyone feels the ‘baby mother’ label is all bad. Sammy, 37, is a father of eight (with different mothers), and has experienced the stereotypical behaviours previously mentioned. “Personally I think that title is okay, but others may not agree,” he says. “It just means ‘the mother of a baby’. I would call a girlfriend who has my child my ‘baby mother,’ but they usually don’t like to be addressed that way. At the same time I do think there is a difference between a baby mother and a single mother. A single mother is self-reliant, but a baby mother still has eyes for the father and still thinks she has a chance. She sometimes gives in to him, whereas a single mother does not care if he’s around, she just gets on with it.”
Ladies let’s come to an agreement. If you are currently not a woman with a child, and you should happen to find yourself in the position of unwed / unattached mother, simply do what you have to do for yourself and your child while displaying a sense of decorum. No one is saying that single motherhood is easy, but rest assured there are enough stresses to deal with without adding the negative opinions of others to it. Those of you who may recognise yourself as a ‘baby mother,’ stop and think about whether the jealous behaviour is really worth it. No man deserves to be put on a pedestal if he is not putting you up there too, and if he is telling you one thing and saying something else to another woman – she is not to blame!
First published in Candy Mag UK, 2009