Please, Don’t Call Her My 'Baby Mama'

"The phrases and words we choose to describe the people in our lives matter."

I hate the term, wholeheartedly. I'll confess: prior to having a child, it was a term I would use with little thought as to what it might convey or mean; the term was a nomenclature mainly used in hip-hop songs and hood speak whenever a group of men were mentioning any issues that they may have incurred when dealing with an ex-lover-turned-parent. The phrase was short and immediately explained a situation with no actual context needed as to how the person you were describing fit into your life.

This is not a think piece. I just felt the need to share: co-parents, shared parenting, single mom and/or dad, etc., deserve to be described better, and in fuller terms. 

The phrases and words we choose to describe the people in our lives matter. 

Because the mother of my child, our child, is also a friend and has also been a moral support for me. We've had our shit, as do all people, especially interconnected persons with a past and a history, but it doesn't change or reflect her position in my or our daughter's life.

Courtesy of Joel L. Daniels
Courtesy of Joel L. Daniels

If anyone refers to her as my "baby mama," I re-frame it when speaking:

"My daughter's mother"

"Lilah's mother"

Or, if you know me know me, I use her actual name, or introduce her name into the conversation; because it matters, because she is a whole human being, and so should be referred to as such. The same rules apply to "baby daddy" for me. Granted, yes, that is actually what the person you're referring to is, in theory. But, what the phrase indicates is far-reaching; it indicates a strained relationship, or a person so insignificant we need a less-than-dignified expression to sum up the individual, and our relation to them.

She, my daughter's mother, is a parent, a pretty damn good parent, and also, a person. And, as a parent, and a friend, and just a person who cares about how the world views the people I care about, she deserves to be recognized as a whole human, and not just a commonality shared amongst peer groups. We all do.

So, let's be better, and do better, for all parents, and for their children, too — let's talk about the people we care for, and about, in ways that are reflective of how they present and show themselves to the world, And, even if they fall short of what we wish, let's affirm what we wish to see in them, not the lack that may be present due to the circumstances at hand. We owe it to them, to ourselves, and to our children.

Words matter. Let's use them wisely, please.

This story originally appeared on Joel L. Daniels' Medium page. Daniels is a writer, actor, and emcee. You can check out more of his writing on Medium and follow him on Twitter.

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