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Parenting

Thinking of Baby Future, and Myself

I’m an expert at avoiding celebrity gossip. I don’t go to any of the popular sites to read it; I scroll by it with all the speed I can muster when I see it on social media. I honestly don’t care enough about it–the drama itself, or the people involved. But sometimes, things hit me. They connect with me; they tell my story. This time, it’s the Ciara/ Russell Wilson/ Future drama that caught me. Because I am Baby Future. Or at least, I was.

I am a girl with two dads. My biological father is an addict. As far as I know, he’s been one my entire life. He and my mom have known each other since high school. They fell in love, they gave it a try, and they had me. But the streets called… and it didn’t work out. And my biological father disappeared for a while. When I was about a year old, my mother reunited with the father of my older sister, and he became my father too. He accepted me because he loved my mother, but it didn’t take long for him to fall in love with me on his own. According to him, there was never any question that he was going to raise me, that I was going to be his daughter. There was never any hesitation on his part. He was always sure. He was always willing. And because of that, I was always wanted. And that continued, even after he and my mom broke up for good when I was eight. It still continues today.

When I was about a year old, my mother reunited with the father of my older sister, and he became my father too. He accepted me because he loved my mother, but it didn’t take long for him to fall in love with me on his own.

My biological father came back into my life when I was nine. There was 2-3 years of rough patches while I tried to figure out how to make room for the both of them. But they were patient with me, supportive of me, and respectful to each other. Their love for me (and my mother) meant that they put aside any ego they had and thought about what was best for me. They still do. My two dads aren’t friends, but they respect each other. They have the same goal: for me to be happy and safe. They both know they have an individual place in my heart. They both know it’s not about misguided loyalty, or ego. I’m their daughter, not a contest they need to win, or a prize they need to claim, or a point they need to prove.

My biological dad and I stumble in our relationship. I struggle with it, even now. But that’s because of things the two of us have gone through. We work through it, and we love each other. But the one thing I can say for certain about him is that he is honest with himself, and with me. He is well aware of his shortcomings, and is relieved and happy that someone was there for me when he wasn’t.

I said all that to say, that reading about Ciara and her new love, and Baby Future pulled at my heartstrings. It made me think of myself. I wonder if people said awful things about my mom because she moved on and let another man raise me. I wonder if they called her disrespectful when they saw pictures of me in his arms, and heard me call him Dad. I wonder if there were people chastising her without having any idea of what she’d been through. I don’t know if Future is an actual drug addict (or just playing one in rap music), but I know from having a personal relationship with an addict that I don’t want one around my kids, and I’m wary of anyone pretending to be one, even if it is just to sell records. I know that navigating a new relationship is tough if you have children. It’s even tougher when your co-parent is unwilling, and disrespectful. I know Baby Future will need all the love and support he can get when he’s old enough to acknowledge that he’s a kid with two dads—and what that means. I know he will have times when he feels like he’s being pulled in two directions, or being asked to choose sides. I know, because I am him. Or, at least I was.

I don’t know if Future is an actual drug addict (or just playing one in rap music), but I know from having a personal relationship with an addict that I don’t want one around my kids, and I’m wary of anyone pretending to be one, even if it is just to sell records.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that I don’t know these people personally and I have no real idea whether their situation is like mine. And you’re right. But I see the similarities. I hear the judgments. And they’re judgments I would never want anyone making about my mom and dad. I don’t know what kind of father Future is. I hope (for all his children’s’ sake) he’s a better one than what’s being portrayed. I hope he knows and understands that when a parent displays toxic behavior, it is the other parent’s right and responsibility to shield the child from as much of it as possible. I hope he realizes how important it is to kids that parents support each other, whether they’re together or not, because that ultimately will make the family (no matter how blended), a success. And I hope everyone else realizes that too. Because for people to imply that a baby should be denied affection from someone he knows and trusts and who clearly cares for him to save the ego of some grown ass adult is a little ridiculous to me. Baby Future has people in his life that love him. He has another person to support him, fight for him, protect him. How can that be wrong? That’s bigger than ego. And bigger than whatever “respect” you think Future is owed. At least to me it is.

My mom told me later, when I was older, that she wondered all the time whether she was making the right decisions with me. But ultimately, she decided I was the most important thing, and she wasn’t going to tell someone who was ready and willing to love me that they couldn’t because of some misbegotten loyalty to a man who wasn’t the kind of father he needed to be. And she wasn’t going to tell me that I couldn’t call a man “Dad” and love him as such when that’s exactly what he was being to me. Blended families take work. And when someone is unwilling because of pettiness, the child suffers. I’m glad my parents weren’t like that. I’m proud of my mom for finding love, and for finding someone honorable enough and wonderful enough to extend that love to me. I’m blessed. And I want the same for Baby Future. Because I am him. Or at least, I was.

By Shameka Erby

Writer. Philly Native. Whiskey Drinker. Best Aunt Ever. And the flyest fat girl you know. I love hip-hop with all my heart.