So first off, I want to start this post by saying that I don’t have all the answers and that I’m far from perfect. All I can do and all I ever claim to do is share my personal truth and my own journey. Most of you who have been following me for a while know that transparency is really important to me. The way I’ve connected with most of you has been through sharing my life’s challenges openly and honestly – both here and on LoveBrownSugar, and it has pained me over the past few years that I haven’t really been able to openly share this one aspect of my life. I think everyone should be allowed to uncover and unpack intimate aspects of their lives at whatever time they choose. There’s a lot of healing, therapy and self-discovery that had to happen in order for me to feel comfortable having this conversation. Right now, in this moment and time in 2017, I finally feel comfortable sharing the difficult details of my three year coparenting journey with Cadence’s father. I hope that someone reading this takes solace, understands that they’re not alone and also comes to terms with the fact that there are no real “mistakes”, only hard lessons and truths that mold you and make you a better person. And also that your personal failures can open the door to help heal others. Here’s my story:
“Single mom” is never a term I wanted to embrace. For all intents and purposes, when I got pregnant with my daughter I had no idea that I’d ever carry that label. I was in a loving relationship with someone who cared about me, and although we hadn’t been in a relationship for very long before I got pregnant, I had little doubt that he would leave my side. I was totally in love. Blindly, I guess you could say. And so I went forward with preparing for baby Cadence, who is by far the biggest blessing that God has given me in life.
About a month after Cadence was born, in the midst of my postpartum emotional rollercoaster and all the hardships that come with being a first-time mommy, the unthinkable happened. I found out, courtesy of social media (thanks Instagram), that I was being cheated on. I found a photo that completely blew my mind and after some investigative research (you know how we women do – Inspector Gadget, much?) I found out that the picture was recent. I flipped OUT. I called my Cadence’s father and cursed him out. At the time, Cadence was at his house and I immediately went by the house and picked her up telling him he’d better pray he ever gets to see her again. I just felt like my entire heart had been ripped out of my body. I didn’t know what to do.
The months that would follow were by far the hardest months of my adult life. Not only was he cheating on me with his ex-girlfriend and the mother of two of his children but they were planning to get married…in 2 months. Mind you, Cadence at this point was only about 8 weeks old. Suddenly, I was a single mom. I felt like my life was spinning out of control. But for the sake of our child, I knew cutting him off from seeing Cadence wasn’t the best thing. I never, ever wanted to be one of those women who drags her children out of their father’s life because of her own issues with the father. Was he a shitty boyfriend at the time? Absolutely. But he was still a dedicated father who made time for her, contributed to her upbringing emotionally and financially, and who would be torn to pieces if I prevented him from seeing his child. So that’s when our coparenting journey began.
He proceeded to get married the September after Cadence was born and, based on our conversations, he did it because he thought it was the best decision for him. They had two children together and he didn’t want to lose access to seeing his kids daily. She worked a job that had her out of town every other day, so he was their primary caretaker. So we began coparenting and I began the process of healing, and moving on.
During the season to follow, I became laser-focused on my career and making sure all of Cadence’s needs were taken care of without any outside help. The blessing in disguise? That season became my greatest season of growth. I became a better business woman. I started BrownGirlsLove that year. I found out the following year that Dove wanted me to be in a commercial. Things in my life just…blossomed outside of the heartache and pain. Better than all that, I learned to depend on God for all my needs. Prior to this season, I was seeking so much validation from outside. From my friends, from social media, from my boyfriend(s). It was always about how others saw me and not about how I saw myself. Finally I had started to develop a little self-awareness and appreciation.
About a year or so into their marriage, Cadence’s father revealed to me that him and his wife were divorcing. They had realized it wasn’t working out. He admitted that he was only there for the kids, and it had been a marriage of convenience for both of them. In my mind, I couldn’t wrap my head around why anyone would make such a serious commitment like marriage if love was absent, but as someone who now has a child, I struggled with what I would’ve done in the same situation. The sacrifice of happiness, for him, was worth it to see his children everyday.
Once lawyers were officially involved and the divorce proceedings began, we started to have conversations about making our relationship work – yet again. He’s a great father and honestly I’d never stopped caring about him. I attempted to get back “on the market” but part of me always wondered what would’ve happened if we had given it another chance. So let’s stop right here in the story. This was not a smart or sound decision, on my part. I admit that wholeheartedly. And there are a few reasons for that:
1. No matter how far along in a breakup, separation or a divorce someone is, you simply shouldn’t be with them – until it’s officially finalized and they have moved on. Period. My mama taught me this, obviously. Every “find love” handbook under the sun preaches about this. It’s just a fact. It is very dangerous and sketchy territory.
2. You simply don’t know someone’s intentions when they are just coming out of a failed relationship, situationship or marriage. Yes, they could truly be “over it”. Or NOT. Only time will tell. And you should give them, and yourself, some time before inserting yourself into a potentially detrimental situation for the both of you.
Hindsight is 20/20, though. Against my better judgment, we rekindled our relationship and midway through 2017 I found out I was pregnant…again. I was a complete mess. I instantly fell into one of the deepest depressions I’d ever been in.
I spent days in bed, nauseous, crying hysterically and asking God over and over “Why me?”
I stopped answering phone calls and emails. I started overeating. I stopped sleeping. And all the while I did my best to hide my depression from Cadence and from my friends and family.
I didn’t feel worthy enough to get up on Sunday and go to church because I had to be the lowest of the low of all sinners to be pregnant out of wedlock AGAIN and with a man who was still legally married. I have always been my worst critic, and around that time I literally became my worst enemy. Tears swell in my eyes as I write this, just thinking about how much I hated myself at that time. To me, the hate was justified.
Not to mention the intense guilt that overtook me because I’ve been such an advocate for empowering women and I felt like the LAST person anyone should be looking up to as a role model or an example. I felt like the worst person on earth.
So I decided to seek help. I found a therapist and started to go to sessions so I could really uncover why I did the things I did and how I could possibly overcome this depression before I jeopardized my pregnancy. One of the things I uncovered while in therapy is that much of my desire to be with Cadence’s father was based on the way I was rejected and hurt in a relationship, just prior to meeting him. What I also realized is that my access and involvement on social media made every problem in my life seem 10000 times bigger because of the veil of perfection that you have to put on. The internet is full of lies. And internally I felt like I was contributing to the problem.
At that point I committed myself to being more transparent. It was shortly after that I finally posted about my pregnancy and I did so on Instagram explaining that I was happy for this blessing from God but that it had taken me a LONG time to be comfortable with it. Children are a blessing and I don’t believe in “accidents”, even when their parents aren’t completely prepared for, or ecstatic about their arrival. Life, in and of itself, is a blessing.
So here we are toward the tail end of 2017 and I’m a few days away from giving birth to my baby boy. Cadence’s father and I are still committed to being the best coparents that we can be for our children, despite how difficult this journey has been. Amidst dealing with this pregnancy he has also been finalizing a divorce which comes with its own set of stresses. Any time children are involved, it’s just hard. And I’ll leave it at that because I want to be respectful to him, his other children and their mother.
I didn’t indulge in all the details (it would take me a whole BOOK to do that) but I wanted to share this piece of my life that has been buried under a rock because I really and truly believe that transparency breeds healing. I want to raise my children to always live in their truth instead of covering it up. I want the “stigma” of imperfect relationships, coparenting and having children out of wedlock to no longer be a stigma but an honest conversation. I want it to be something we can all talk about openly so that we can all HEAL and teach each other how to live happier and healthier lives for ourselves and for our children.
I know this post was super long, but I wouldn’t be doing my story justice if I cut it into bite sized pieces or turned it into a numbered list. I hope after reading this, you have a little more context around why I’ve kept this piece of my life sheltered. I’ve committed to living my life only to please God and to help others heal and grow by being transparent. That doesn’t mean I’m perfect, or that I’m never going to fail. And I’ve come to terms with that.
I think as women, we often opt to conceal the parts of ourselves that aren’t perfect. Honestly that’s how I got my start with LoveBrownSugar – showing you all how to play up your best physical assets and conceal the “flaws”, how to make yourself look pretty with hair and makeup because when you look good, you feel good. But the truth of it is, transparency and sharing our truths – that’s what truly makes us beautiful.
Thanks for reading and if you have your own personal stories to share – ones about single motherhood, coparenting, or anything that will help others heal – feel free to leave them in the comments.