“Let’s just be honest. Let’s just be real”: Being a single mother doesn’t take away from a woman’s desirability or her desires, and that frightens way too many people, especially (it seems) too many men. This is the greatest takeaway from the spectacle we’ve seen this week surrounding a photo being circulated of singer/single mom Ciara attending beau Russell Wilson’s Seattle Seahawks training camp—where Ciara’s adorable son Future Zahir embraces Wilson on the field, wearing Wilson’s Seahawks jersey.
If you’re a single mother like I am, the photo may have touched you in a deep place, because it represents something that many single mothers find important: a relationship where one’s child feels comfortable and adored by one’s new partner.
At the very top of my list in my needs from a partner is that he love and care for my daughter deeply, like she’s his own. This is non-negotiable and the first commandment in being in a serious committed relationship with Jo. Apparently, having a partner who bonds with a single mom’s child is an issue for some women and tons of men—including comedian Lil Duval and rapper T.I., who feel that baby Future is too young to be so close to a man who’s not his father. I was glad to see that Amber Rose corrected Duval on his tweets about Ciara being a negligent mother and calling him out on his double standards.
Here’s the thing(s):
If we’re going to place the weight and responsibility of raising children on mothers, we have to trust and respect them. Mothers love their children deeply and are fiercely protective. Most mothers are not going to introduce their children to danger, whether in the form of a bad nanny or a shady boyfriend. When women have children, their priorities shift towards whatever is in the best interest of their child (most times to their detriment).
I know too many women who don’t date at all as single moms because so much of their lives focus on their children and dating can be too complicated and exhausting. We haven’t seen one clue that Ciara is anything but a dope and devoted mother to Future Zahir. I believe she’s handled her breakup with Future impeccably, and has moved on happily with her life. The side-eyes Ciara is receiving for even daring to date post Future is annoying at least and probably misogynist. Holla at Damon Young about that.
And speaking of side-eyes, Ciara is not on an award tour (like A Tribe Called Quest) promoting an album no one even knows the name of, because every media opportunity available is used to throw shade at her ex. But in the age-old African tradition of keeping it real, this is child and mother number four for Future, and most believe his and Ciara’s engagement ended because Future refused to be faithful. If we should be questioning anyone’s ability to be a devoted parent putting his or her child’s best interest first, we are investigating the wrong parent.
Next: Single moms are desirable. Being desirable is exactly how they became mothers in the first place. It’s not rocket science or Common Core math. Additionally, single mothers are better mothers when they live full, healthy and happy lives, which includes love, dating and sex. If we want to see healthy, well-adjusted children, we have to give single moms space to breathe and experience life outside of motherhood, while also acknowledging that such breathing and experiencing often intertwines with mothering.
If Ciara was running around still single and being a bitter Betty, we’d be complaining about that. As a matter of fact, we attack single moms all the time for being too concerned about their exes lives, while touting single fathers as awesome for the same kind of (often faux) concern.
Single mothers leaving the fathers of their children behind and finding love again disrupts our antiquated ideas about womanhood and motherhood. We’ve trained ourselves to believe that life stops for women when they become mothers, whether in committed relationships or not. We are doubly upset when a woman chooses to leave a relationship after having a child and also has the audacity to be happy.
Black women particularly have been cornered by a narrative that says partnering once is almost impossible. So seeing women like Ciara partner again (with a man who also loves her child) is, like, unicorn-level unbelievable. And, well, most men who have children view the mothers of their children (and the children themselves) as some kind of possession. That, folks, is a whole ’notha post.
I’m a daddy’s girl and so is my daughter. If a father is present, active and loving, no other man will upset the bond he shares with his child. Ciara and tons of single moms are continuing their walk towards love and bliss with their children in tow, and we will all deal.
Josie Pickens is an educator, cultural critic and soldier of love. Follow her musings on Twitter at @jonubian.