77931703Brooklyn summer was here. It’s Saturday night and everyone is headed to “First Saturdays” at the Brooklyn Museum. With HOT 97 blasting in my dressing room, I retouched my makeup just before my girl Erica texted me that she’s making her way from Bedstuy to scoop me in Clinton Hill. My Barbara Hulanicki for Topshop jacket with ruffled exaggerated shoulders coupled matchlessly with my bowler cut. I went simplistic for pairing, a red vintage tee, cropped leggings and black suede Louboutins. After Erica texted me that she was in front of my building, I grabbed my clutch and took careful steps down the stairs. I was triumphant. It wasn’t only because I felt amazing, it was an added reason that after two years in the Big Apple, I finally attracted a nucleus of brilliant and supportive Brooklyn sistas whose dedicated smiles and waves greeted me as I sashayed to Erica’s Mercedes. Watchful not to bust my behind on the borough’s concrete cracks, I quicken my step before I heard the familiar “hurry up na, we gotta find parking!”

As we cruised Fulton, we bumped a hybrid of Chrisette Michele’s “Epiphany” and Beyonce’s new “Ego” remix featuring Kanye West. We declared our collective intentions to have a drama-free good time. And yes as single girls our apparent and undisclosed supplementary objective was a needless to say hope to meet a BK cutie. You know, that kind of Black man of who might work on Wall street but he’s sincerest credibility comes from the street. The kind of Bedstuy-bred man who rocks a sports jacket refined by his tailor for gym-clad shoulders juxtaposed by a seemingly never-worn pair of construction Timberlands. Do not mistake, this group of Ivy educated, dual-degreed 20-somethings have experienced our share of crushed hearts. On the evening of the first summer in the illest city in the Western Hemisphere, our must-have list for qualifying men was in powering on mode.

After a mere five minutes inside I ran into my girls Nicole and Tiffany. We chopped it up, talking life and career when it happened. I met a Brooklyn man. While in conversation on the opposite end of the room, he was in conversation with Erica and he insisted she introduce us. We were acquainted and we instinctively challenged each other. Frequencies and his notable swag were through the roof. He asked for my number. I smiled and exchanged a hard-win no. At the after party, I achieved an overwhelming flock of butterflies secretly watching him walk through the door. When the DJ flipped it to Total’s “Can’t You See,” we lost ourselves.

It was a lovely departure, but I had thesis revisions to wrap up. I spent the next few evenings in the Bobst library making edits and drafting cutesy text replies to him. The next day, me personally delivering a six-chapter thesis to each of my committee-members completely sacked our plans to lunch on campus. On this rainy Wednesday afternoon, his unswerving ambition to see me again was pleased with the measly 30 minutes I could spare. We sat in a SoHo Starbucks picking up where that last text left off. I was giddy and unquestionably feeling him.

Out of nowhere, something kicked in me to ask the question I was certain he would say no to. “Do you have children?” I nearly choked on my extra caramel macchiato when this Brooklyn man responded with, “Yes, I have three.”

I froze. Feelings of deceit and confusion shot through my body like a double espresso. My face panned to the window calculating how I could pull off the Angela Basset in What’s Love Got to Do With It traffic run in the middle of a slippery Broadway in over sized rain boots. Hell, I wouldn’t have cared if my hair got wet. I gathered myself and calmly asked, “Really? When were you going to share this with me?” This Brooklyn man’s response is the reason among a plethora that propelled this story. “Well, I wanted to get to know you first. I don’t just share personal information with every woman I meet.” I checked the time on my iPhone and convincingly versed, “I’m going to be late for work.” He wanted to walk me to my office. I allowed him to walk me to the door. We didn’t speak for the rest of the summer.

It was a heated night as I commenced a 5-way conference call with Sorors and BFFs from all corners of the nation. I blasted, “Who does he think he is trying play me! I mean, when was the topic of his first, second and third child going to come up?” Raven joked, “Girl, yes! He clearly tried to run the okie dokie on you. You need to tell that fool you sucka free!” Jasmene joined in, “Oh hell naw! It’s a recession and he got three kids. He can’t afford to take you out!” We cried laughing and dished over a dozen cracks at the Brooklyn man when Temple said, “I understand how you’re feeling but let’s look at this critically. At our age, can we really afford to discount all men with children?” We stubbornly listened as Temple went on. “Ladies, the numbers are just not in our favor. Face it, it’s likely that the man you will marry will have one or multiple children.” There was an uninterrupted silence on the call. After an elongated pause, I broke the stillness with a series of buts. “Well, this all may be quantitatively true, but when I’m ready to have children, I want it to be a new experience for both he and I.” I found myself breathing hard and getting increasingly emotional stuttering, “what, what if I really like a guy, but I’m not ready to play the stepmother? Stepmom?! UGH! That don’t even sound attractive!”

Six months past. The summer was a memory. On the night of The Brooklyn Circus Holiday party, let me tell you why I admittedly formed a search party to find his number only to resort to messaging him on Facebook. I typed a succinct “call me.” You know what? I can’t explain why I did it. Maybe it’s that I don’t want to admit it to myself. All that I know is when the “fave” in my life and the perfectly imperfect “potential” both failed to keep promises to take me out that weekend, I found myself thinking of the fly guy who once made me smile on a Brooklyn summer night. Listen, I’m not telling you that I’m ready to date a man with 3 children, but I surely won’t be deleting his number again.

Here’s a few tips for you Clutchettes and Gents that will save you from choking on a Starbucks coffee or wondering why she dissed you:

1. Fellas, you must be up front with the woman you seek. Being a father is apart of your immediate identity. Having children is nothing to be ashamed about. Spare yourselves later embarrassment and disclosed this part of yourselves in initial conversations. That is, before you ask for her number or in your first one-on-one conversation.

2. Ladies, we all have our deal-breakers. If dating a man with children is out of the question, be a straight shooter and ask him if he has children in initial conversations. Be respectful and open about your reservations.

3. Fellas, be careful about the women you bring in and out of your children’s lives. If a woman is super strict about not having children yet or at all, you should think twice before you introduce her to your little ones. Moreover, you should seek women who have children of their own.

4. Ladies, just because a single man has children doesn’t mean he’s a loser. There are loads of men who are about the business of being great fathers and great companions. Yes, he can multi-task. And no, “Baby-Mama drama” is not apart of the fabric of Black America. You watch too much BET!

xo gt.

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  • Lynette

    I am like poster Brina. I do not have nor do I want children. So I date men who don’t have/ want children or men who have children who are ‘grown” and out of the house.

    Also, I think another important question that women need to ask fathers of multiple children is “are all of them by the same mother?”. His answer will tell you a lot.

  • Raven L. Jones

    GGGGGGGGGGGGGG…………..Oh My Gosh….this is too comedic, yet real life. This is by far, my favorite article written by you. I cannot stop laughing as I imagine you saying, “I’m going to be late for work!” Though it was not an ideal conversation, I am glad our “Nucleus” includes people like Jasmine and Temple – who consider mulitiple perspectives. “CLEARLY,” we are not getting any younger, which means being candid is not optional; it is a must. You feel me???!!! I am all about Enlightened Exposure from henceforth!!!!

    Ashe –

  • grace

    Great article. I dated a guy with a child and had no bias at the beginning becuase i had not met the child. I was not sure how that child was going to affect my universe so i was not going to let that be a negative prematurely. I don’t remeber at what point he told me that he had a child but i am sure it was at the point that there was an intent to be more than just passerbys greeting on the street. When i did meet the child, the child was let’s say ‘full of energy’ and was too much for me to handle. If the relationship with the guy was stronger i am sure i would have adjusted as the child would be expected to adjust to me. If i really cared about the guy i would have worked it out like any full biological family would have to when you really care for each other.

    I did like the part where i was able to see him as a father.

    Single good fathers have a certain wisdom or experience that can be beneficial to the relationship.

    With every new child comes a new experience and a brand new set of circustances whether you have none or already have 3.

    I have a stepfather so i can appreciate him giving my mom a chance even though she already had me.

  • Going through it

    I see that this was posted a while ago, but I cant help but comment since I currently am going through a situation involving a S.O. who is a father. I am an educated sister, currently in grad school and would never have imagined dating a man with a child. But I was open minded when I met my current boyfriend of now over a year, who showed me a picture of his son on the day we met. It was an uncomfortable feat adjusting to the situation but to be quite frank I sometimes regret going through with it. He is an amazing partner and his child is loving and absolutely magnetic but.. He has this “hella” crazy baby mama, who’s ‘ignant’ self will punish her child with hellfire just to get back at the father. I’ve tried establishing some form of cordial of communication with the mother of his son, (since our relationship is pretty serious)but she couldn’t care less. This lady is quick to be boisterous, obnoxious and ‘cuss’ somebody under no sensible grounds. I share my experience to say, that although you find a man who is a great father and their children love you; you also have to factor in the mother which can be more than you can deal with. With that said, I understand why some women want to run away at the first sound of “Yes I have a child”…After all, if they don’t have children, it is only normal to expect that their partner don’t…The headaches stemming from an unruly ‘baby momma’ is something I’m debating it’s all worth it. (Jada Pinkett need to holla at us sistas about dealing with a father, lol)

    • Going through it

      I’m debating if* its all worth it …