Not just having a baby but not feeling like I need a man to do it. It was a revolutionary act of self-love to declare, this past January, that I wasn't waiting on the perfect partner, the right time, or the best financial situation to have a baby. Black women, in particular, have it hard out here. For those of us who didn't accidentally get pregnant at 17, we were told by many to wait--to wait until we got settled into our careers, to wait until we made partner at the firm and then wait 3 years after that so that we could keep partner...to wait until we made tenure at whatever university...to wait until we got our first church or our first job as pastor...to wait and wait and wait....until our eggs disappear or we can no longer carry a child to term because we've reached advanced maternal age. I've heard the stories--both dictated to me in private and publicly shared in books and interviews [Read Gabrielle Union's We're Going to Need More Wine]
I'm about to be 29 and #iWaited. I waited to finish college, then I waited to finish grad school, then I waited for my career to take off, and then I decided (mid-career) to answer my call to ministry...so I waited some more...now I'm waiting to finish this seminary degree (which will happen at age 30), and then, I'm supposed to wait until I get settled into whatever church, hospital, or university hires me as their pastor or chaplain...and then wait until the deacon board thinks I'm okay enough as their pastor to not vote me out so that my children and I have a stable income. And this DOES NOT include waiting for prince charming or Mr. Right to "complete me" and donate sperm to my cause. So, in January, when I decided not to wait any longer, it was truly a revolutionary act--an act that stated my independence and freed me from the societal and familial constraints that suggest I need "perfection" in order to parent--that I need to be married...that I need to be ready.
Living Single was my favorite show! I loved those four black women [Khadija, Regine, Synclair and Max], and Kyle Barker! Oooooo Weeeeee! I thought I was fitna be Mrs. Barker, okay!!! My favorite character on the show was Maxine Shaw, played by Erika Alexander. I loved everything about her--her unapologetic personality, her unconventional hairstyle (I eventually shaved my sides and rocked braids a few years ago because of her iconic look), her sexual freedom, and her hard-working, career-driven persona! She was everything! I'm still 'Riding the Maverick' (you gotta know the show to catch that)! I didn't quite realize it until I became a woman that she was my woman--she was the woman I'd tried to be over and over again but society kept calling me a "tomboy" or saying I wasn't "lady-like" enough, or people would whisper about how I was too strong or too independent. When I got permission to finally be her version of black woman in real life, I did and I am.
Moreover, what I loved most about Maxine Shaw was her decision in Season 5 to have a baby. This came after a very intense spiritual awakening in her life. She was single. She had taken a hiatus from her law career. Yet, she went down to to the sperm bank and got pregnant--BY 👏HER 👏SELF👏! She was committed to doing this thing that society had told her she needed a partner for in order to do it "the right way." She did this thing that has inspired me so much--the act of deciding to be a mother by thine self, either through adoption, surrogacy, or natural birth. Maxine Shaw is my s-hero. She empowers me daily as I live in the reality of wanting to be a mother soon whilst being uncertain about so many things in my life. The possibility of getting pregnant safely without waiting for a man or waiting for the best job is both frightening and life-giving at the same time. Knowing that I have a community around me who'd help me raise this child is comforting. Maxine had that--before Kyle came back into the picture, Khadija, Regine, and Sinclair vowed to be the village needed to raise this child. Max is my life-long inspiration, a testament to walking in faith and doing what one has to do in order to do what one wants to do. And this is not to say that I don't have a desire for a strapping young gentlemen to come into my life and sweep me off my feet!--to go into this parenting journey with me. I totally do! [Come through, God! A girl has desires!] I desire that as well as desiring motherhood, but one doesn't depended on the other. I'm committed to mothering in my 30's even if prince charming never comes--even if I haven't reached the height of my career--even if I have to mother alone.
I'm also empowered by my own mother, a courageous woman who juggled career, side hustles, and mothering me by herself. [My father was and still is very active in my life] I didn't realize I was a superwoman's child until I got much older. How did she ever get me all the places I needed to go--choir and play rehearsals, dance classes, gymnastics camp, basketball and track practice? How did she keep me healthy? How did she keep her sanity? It's truly amazing, but more importantly, it's truly possible. My mom showed me that. Maxine Shaw showed me that. It's possible.
I digress. I'm still figuring out the when and the how. I've looked into freezing my eggs since experts suggest 29 is a good age; however, that could cost thousands. I'd be better off taking my chances at a sperm bank in about 3 years and hoping for the best. I pray that my body holds up long enough to facilitate this beautiful experience. For those of us who have conditions that affect our reproductive systems or our ability to carry a child to term (endometriosis, PCOS, kidney/diabetic issues), we know how anxiety-inducing planning for pregnancy can be and how waiting on the "right" circumstances can add to that anxiety. In the meantime, however, I'm going to work on getting my life in order so that little Ezra or Moriah can thrive in this world.