“I Got Your Baby Mama Drama!” by Cassandra Ohelo

Posted: June 1, 2013 in Vol. 3: Spring Essays 2013

UnbenanntYou want to know real Baby Mama Drama? Try being harangued and chastised by folks who insist on calling you so-and-so’s baby mama, or the oh-so-endearing abbreviation “B.M.” Let’s get one thing straight: I’m nobody’s Baby Mama. I am, instead, the mother of a beautiful and brilliant seven-year-old boy, and yes, I happen to be a single parent and, brace yourself, a native Hawaiian born and raised in Waianae!

I don’t have a pathological obsession with political correctness, but when anyone refers to me as a Baby Mama, I cringe so hard you’d think I was back in school dissecting a nasty ass frog. See, the imposed “Baby Mama” tag suggests I had nothing to do with my child’s conception or his subsequent rearing; instead it defines me by my unwed status and the absence of my son’s father. As if that headache isn’t enough, I have to deal with the stigma and stereotypes that accompany the term: that I’m a promiscuous, condom-tossing hood rat; a conniving gold-digger, a block-hugging welfare queen; a gum-smacking birdbrain decked out in gold bracelets, tattoos, and giant gold bamboo earrings; or a love junkie who pines after her philandering ex-man and threatens all of his other female conquests with angry phone calls and neck-twirling diatribes.

Now, I do love my tattoos and earrings, but those things aside, I’m none of the above. And neither are most single moms out there. And being Hawaiian or from Waianae hasn’t helped my case either. Truth is, if asked ten years ago about motherhood, I would have whipped out a PowerPoint presentation detailing how I’d meet the perfect man, get married, and after becoming financially stable, start a family. But as John Lennon famously said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

So as life would have it, at 17 I fell madly and blindly in love, moved with my boyfriend into a two-bedroom apartment and got pregnant all in the span of 3 years. Problems ensued, and he was repeatedly unfaithful, so I did what any self-respecting woman would do: I bid him adios and kept it moving. I should be applauded for having the courage to leave an unhealthy, domestically violent relationship, but instead I am often viewed with skepticism and sometimes even contempt. It kills me because this happens daily to women everywhere. But here’s the thing: my hatred of the term “Baby Mama” won’t make it disappear, and I can’t magically erase it from Hip-Hop vernacular. So instead, I celebrate my own strength and resourcefulness and praise myself for being a caring and doting mother. When someone refers to me as Baby Mama, I always let them know…

“My name is Cassandra, and I am Jadis’ mother.”

 

Written for a 2008 Poetry Slam

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