Look Who's Never Coming to Dinner
Look Who's Never Coming to Dinner
By Wes J. Pimentel
I would like to congratulate the American Family. We have a couple new family members in our midst. The ubiquity of these people would not be possible without our new, almost complete, disregard of the conventional family unit. I believe these new familial positions deserve recognition on legal forms and by government agencies based simply on the fact that they are so incredibly common, nowadays. I am speaking, of course, of the baby momma and the baby daddy.
In the last twenty years our pop-culture has drawn more and more of our national colloquialisms from the black/urban/hip-hop/ghetto (or whatever you want to label it) community. For some reason, poor black people are just the coolest damn thing ever. This has led to many of the interesting situations you see today. We have elementary-school-aged white girls saying stuff like, “Talk to the hand!” sports anchors calling everybody “dog” and EVERYBODY saying, “My bad.” I’m pretty sure we all know where “Bling-bling” came from. No, not from Martha Stewart. Like the rest of these, the baby momma/baby daddy thing has now officially made it into our lives. I knew it was official when I heard the celebrity-show narrator-guy say it. I’m sure you’ve heard this guy. He sounds British and he’s always describing something luxurious. Well, the other day I heard him say,”… her baby daddy!” in the same tone he would have used to say, “… a five million dollar home!”
I completely understand. We need these labels. Long before the terms “second cousin” and “twice removed” were coined, those relationships already existed. One day somebody said, “That’s not my cousin, that’s my second cousin,” and it just caught on from there. We are currently at the same type of crossroads. These terms have gone from laughable novelties to utilitarian labels the likes of which “my daughter’s father” and “the mother of my children” simply cannot compete with. They’re too rigid and white. People like to sound cool, not like republicans. We all might as well get used to it. These parts of speech are unstoppable. I call them slangernauts.
Part of the reason this particular set of terms has become so pervasive is the epidemic spreading of the actual relationships they describe. People just have kids now. Marriage, or lifelong commitment (they mean two different things, now), aren’t even part of the equation anymore. I’m positive bastard births outnumber legitimate children by a landslide nowadays. Kids these days know what custody means before they know how to ride a bike. Two distinct factors have greatly contributed to this current state.
Female empowerment. If you tell one gender they don’t need the other for long enough, guess what; they’re eventually going to believe it. More and more women now view men as obsolete sperm donors and child-support piggy-banks. It used to be that children were born out of wedlock due to a man shirking his husbandly responsibilities. Not so anymore. Now people just have kids because the sacred union of marriage has become as obsolete as the endangered husband/father species of the male American.
Lower Dad standards. This is the other factor. “He’s a good father” used to mean a lot. One pictures a pregnant woman holding her belly saying this, while she adoringly gazes at their other children; kids who can play and have fun because they know their father is providing for them and will be back soon to assume his post at the head of the family. Now a “good father” means he doesn’t miss his child-support payments and he picks up his kids occasionally. Way to go, Dad.
So, in light of having to quickly sum up your relationship with a person, that someone else might consider random, in a single term, our society has spawned these new familial titles. I say let’s run with it. I want to see “#1 Baby Momma” on coffee mugs and caps. I would buy and wear a t-shirt that said, “World’s Best Baby Daddy” and I don’t even have kids.
Society needs to catch up too. Like prisons and hospitals, for example. On visitation lists that are for “immediate family only,” my baby daddy and my baby momma, should be perfectly legitimate entries. Tax forms, baptismal certificates, all that. I could just see something like this on an insurance form:
If father of child is different from husband, or if you are a single mother and know the identity of the father of your child, or have conned a man into believing he is, go to section 11B, titled “Baby Daddy”.
What’s up, society? I think we’re ready. You can form as many family-values-based councils as you want to in Congress. Americans are still going to just have kids, because that’s the direction we want to head in as a national community. I can’t wait for the day when I can walk into Hallmark and peruse the “Baby Momma” section of the birthday cards, or find the perfect card for a baby daddy in the “Missing You” section.
Even Superman is a baby daddy for Pete’s sake! Ostensibly, “Superman Returns” is another mainstream American blockbuster about ‘ol blue tights thrashing his arch-nemesis, but the real story is a lot deeper. It’s really just another tale about a dead-beat dad showing up after years of absence to intrude on a kid’s life. Is there no limit to the proliferation of this new relation?
We used to have “normal” families, now we don’t. It’s obvious that as a country, we are committed to simply having children without a single thought to space, finance, the future, or emotional repercussions. We need to respect ourselves and our own decisions. If we’re going to just have kids, then we’re also going to “just” add baby mommas and daddies to what we consider the family. I say we embrace these new familial posts and treat them just like any other distant relative (no, I don’t mean talking shit about them at family reunions). I mean accept their existence, shamelessly market useless products to them, and figure out a way to get a tax break from the situation. It’s the American way.