One-On-One With Born Free
Ebony S. Muhammad (EM): You are currently a single father, with a 10 year old daughter. What were the circumstances surrounding her birth and your present role as a single parent?
Born Free (BF): Well first of all I sincerely appreciate you giving me this opportunity to share my experiences with you. I love your magazine and I believe you’re providing a unique and much needed service to our community. Now that I’ve said all that, let’s go in! I could never say that I’m a “single” parent because even though we’re not married, me and my daughter’s mom have equally raised her in every possible way. The circumstances around her birth we’re actually excellent! I was working full time at a consulting firm in Philadelphia and I had a very nice amount of savings stacked up, so from a financial perspective I/we were ready to go from the beginning. Emotionally I was in a great space as well. I dreamed about being a dad ever since I was real young watching the Cosby Show. My spirit was at an all time high because I was extremely happy at the idea of having a child and I couldn’t wait to see her or him. The sex of the baby was irrelevant to me. All that mattered was that I was about to be a father.
EM: What has it been like raising her primarily on your own? What has been the most challenging and rewarding aspect?
BF: Even when there was a separation between me and her mother we still worked together every single day to make sure that all her needs were met mentally, financially, and spirituality. The most challenging part about that time was dealing with the sad reality that our little family was broken. I hated not seeing her every day and night. Seeing her every other week wasn’t working for me. It’s hard to speak about that time in our lives as being rewarding, but I was definitely proud of the fact that we were able to continue to shower our daughter with a lot of love in spite of the fact that we were going through a rough patch.
EM: On the subject of dating, what has that been like for you? Are you especially careful of whom you bring around her or relatively relaxed?
BF: I never really dated during that time because honestly I didn’t have the time or really the desire to get into any new relationships. I put all my energy towards making sure that baby girl was okay. So she never saw me courting or all booed up with any other woman. I don’t think it would have been fair to her to see me get down like that.
EM: What do you consider most critical in raising a daughter as a father?
BF: I think having a strong spiritual foundation and providing her with the kind of loving and joyous environment that allows her to discover all the great things about herself.
EM: What are you teaching her about herself as a young lady?
BF: I’m teaching her that she is a child of the God/The Creator/The Most High and that she is more than just her pretty face. Every morning before she goes to school we say, “I’m smart, I’m pretty, I’m strong, I can do anything, I’m brave and I stand up for myself”. I just want her to be a well rounded person.
EM: Another aspect of fatherhood for you is your experience with losing a child by way of miscarriage. Can you please share what place? What was the experience/loss like for you and the mother?
BF: That was the worst feeling that I’ve had as an adult outside of losing my Beloved Grandmother. The miscarriage happened about 7 months before our daughter was born. It was somewhere around May or June in the year 2000. I believe it was on a Friday night around 9 pm. I remember because that was our movie night. I was in the kitchen cleaning up and getting things together so that we can watch a movie when I heard a bone chilling scream coming from the bathroom. When I opened the door I could see some blood in the tub. I knew what was happening but I didn’t want to admit it to myself. Once we calmed down we went to the hospital and that’s when it was confirmed that we lost the baby.
EM: What went through your mind and what feelings did you experience when the news came about the loss?
BF: At first I think I was numb to everything and my first instinct was to comfort and surround my lady with love and support. I think at the time when all this was going on I didn’t invest anytime in thinking or dealing with how I was feeling about the lost I just figured that I would just be okay over time. Nobody ever asked me how I was feeling or doing. All the focus was on the mom, and I didn’t trip about that because I thought that was normal and the way it should be. But I soon realized that I was severely depressed.
EM: What was it like recovering from that loss?
BF: It was really hard because hearing the news that I was going to be a father was so uplifting and inspiring that the idea that it was over before it really began was unbelievably tragic. When I look back on it I realize that my depression became magnified because I didn’t have an outlet to release all the pain and anguish. Sometimes I don’t think that women (of course not all) but in my case think that men feel the lost of a child on the same level as they do. I know I was going through hell internally and I needed somebody to talk to, to help guide me through that kind of darkness.
EM: Where are you now as it relates to that experience?
BF: I’m at peace with everything at this point. When my daughter was born, I was re-born again! Everything was new and so fresh and so clean clean. LOL! I think at the end of the day, that loss made me a better father because I realize how fast things can change. I need to make the most out of everyday that I’m blessed to have my daughter in my life.
EM: What would you like the world to know about fathers who are, in spite of men who are not, taking care of their children especially single fathers?
BF: I want the world to know that we exist! That we LOVE. That we CARE. That we are INVOLVED! That we know how to have FUN! That are RESPONSIBLE and we that we are NOT babysitters in our child’s lives, we are FATHERS in deepest and most intimate ways. Don’t let the media convince you that the few wayward men represent the norm. They absolutely DO NOT!
EM: What would you like to say to the single mothers out there?
BF: Hold your head up high and give your child all the love that you can summon. Keep your heart open because your child is going to need constant access to the best part of you, and try to develop a good and solid support system with your family and closest friends.
EM: Anything else you would like to share?
BF: I’m not sure I think you’ve opened me up wide enough for today. LOL. I just want to say THANK YOU once again for allowing me to share my thoughts and experiences with you. I’ve really enjoyed this conversation. Let’s do it again. Peace!