A few days ago, I made a post expressing my thoughts on Idris Elba winning People’s Sexiest Man Alive. First let me say, that I totally feel he should have won. The man is beautiful on so many levels and for a chocolate man to win this is HUGE, and that’s all I will say about that (since I only have eyes for my true love…but even though I’m married I AIN’T BLIND!). My post was not in any way to say I was against him winning, however personally, I do struggle with how society seems to praise certain men, especially men in Hollywood or in the entertainment industry. The post said something like this (I’ve deleted it, because some dear friends were offended by it): “Idris got 2 kids by 2 different women, been married 2 times and about to get married a third time. He is sexy (insert sarcasm).” When I wrote this post, I honestly was surprised that some women were personally offended…although, thinking back to how much people love the guy, I should have been more careful. Anyway, to explain myself even further, let me first say who the post was NOT written about:

My post was NOT written to criticize the woman who has more than one baby’s father. First, because all of the women who I have met and been close to actually had a relationship with the children’s father. The ones I know, actually thought that maybe there would be a lifetime with the person. I’ve seen tattoos that had to be remade to erase “his” name. I cannot look at these women with any form of judgement or condescension because honestly it could have been me. I can think of a few “baby daddies” I could have had, but God snatched me out of some situations, I guess because that set of trials were not his plan for me, but it’s not because I am so holy or perfect or “better.” Let me be clear on that. Another reason this post was not about women who have more than one baby’s father, is because these women also are the ones actually taking care of and raising the babies. Regardless of how many there are, regardless if the man pays any support, regardless if the man is inconsistently involved with co-parenting or shows up at all. These moms are always there. ALWAYS. Every person is on a love journey, and although some of us make it through this journey without birthing children out of these relationships, each person does deserve the right to try again until they find love or love finds them and having a child, especially if you are a mom who is a faithful mom to the child, should not disqualify anyone from that right.

My post was NOT written to the man who has more than one baby’s mother and either has full custody or plays a major role in the raising and care of the child….one that is almost equal to the mom’s. I know these dads too. Some have either full custody or faithfully show up for their partial custody time or are eager for the child’s school breaks where they will have uninterrupted time with the child. They come to most of the child’s functions and events. These are the dads that either are faithfully paying child support or if not pay so much on their own the mom feels no need to get the courts involved. They share the responsibility of picking up or dropping off the child to school and other places. They meet with teachers and ask to have their names on the parent email list. In some way or another, they are PRESENT consistently, and if they are not there physically, they are Facetiming or something! They can be reached and found when the child needs them. This post was not about you. Again the same thoughts apply. Many of the times the child was created out of love for the woman and even though the relationship is not working out, the guy still loves the child and wants to be a major part of their life. They are happy to co-parent with the mother of the child. Or even if in both the case of the woman or man, if the child was created through a one night stand, when both mother and father still take full responsibility and are still on this journey to finding true love, I cannot fault anyone for that process. We all fall of God’s expectations. All of us do, and we are all given the chance to start over. He is a God of a million chances.

My struggle with Idris and others is when we seem to praise men for their sex appeal. The number of women drawn to them are somehow seen as some type of reward. My mentioning his love life was me actually affirming that he is sexy. All of the women he has had shows that. Although he is settling down at this point for the third time, he is known as a lady’s man.  He has said himself, that he does not get to see his kids as much as he’d like because of his work, but when he does see them, he loves being with them. So because I work with so many kids who don’t have fathers who are present consistently, this is a soft spot for me. Some may say that I can’t speak on this because I have not experienced it, I have to disagree. I may not have gone through this trial personally, but as a teacher and principal, I have had to be the one to many times console the child whose dad again was not present. There have been times where a child will be telling everyone at school “My dad is coming to see me this weekend!” All that day and night I will pray that the dad will show up and many times he doesn’t and then mom deals with a firestorm and then when the child comes to school I do. I literally will spend a good deal of time trying to help the child manage his anger over the disappointment, often times to the point that they cannot do school work. I get the text or call from mom to give me the heads up that again dad did not show up. I have often been a listening ear as a mom shares with me her frustration about a dad not being more present. Now some may say, well he can’t because he is so busy. I am not able to accept that excuse. When a child comes into the world, I am a firm believer that a life must be fully readjusted to accommodate the presence of both parents with the child (of course if the dad is a lunatic, then of course it does not apply here). I know a dad who actually quit his job to drive Uber so he could be more present for his children…and one of his children is not his biological child…it’s his wife’s…because yet again, the real dad is NOT CONSISTENTLY PRESENT!! I also feel strongly about this because I have had a lot of mothers in schools where I have served as a teacher or principal, where the dad has a demanding job and the excuse is always he has no time to be consistent. At the same time I have seen a dad quit his job, move his housing, change states and totally readjust his life to be THERE for the child. I once heard of an actor, buying a house in the same neighborhood as he and his ex-wife so he could be near his kids. Or another quit Hollywood altogether just to be there for his kids. I guess they figured the millions they earned and the residual they earn from royalties is enough to sustain them while they focus on what’s important. I know another surrogate dad, who retired early, collected a large retirement and now spends his free time following his nephew around as he plays basketball for highschool…because his real dad passed away. He literally said this is one of the main reasons he retired early! Now THAT is sexy to me!! Or I think of the dad who asked his 5 year old son’s teacher to have Facetime on her phone so he can Facetime with his son whenever they want to speak to each other.  Being a dad like this is sacrificial, and you may not win sexiest man, but for me this is everything! There are times when I will see a mom with custody sacrificing all of her hopes and dreams, while the dad often gives the excuse of he’s too busy. I’ve even had a dad say he couldn’t call his son because he was on a date too late! Yet, the mom can’t even go on a date, because all of her free time is used to care for the child. This is just not fair!!

So yes, I think Idris is sexy. He should have won, and I see his fiancée was very delighted as she exclaimed that his face is the face she loves waking up to each morning. At the same time, I do not think I am wrong for expressing some concern over how he is going about his journey to find love. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. If Idris is on a love journey where he is following the same pattern of meeting a girl he likes, falling in love, sleeping with her, then marrying her, and making a baby with her (and not always in that order)….something may need to be done differently. If anyone, male or female, on this love journey keeps doing it the same way, maybe the process should be restructured? This is NOT a judgement call, but an encouragement to do the love journey differently if you keep getting the same result. As a teacher I see the same thing happening over and over. There is a child, born of a man and woman who either loved each other or got “caught up” one night and BAM here this little being is!  Then things don’t work out and the child is often times left with one parent being the committed one and MOST times in my case it has been the dad.

Love is a funny thing. Sexual urges can seem insatiable, but please stop and think.  If a man is only praised for how many women lust and want him and not for thinking through carefully how he can self-sacrificially love on the children these relationships and flings have brought into the world…is he REALLY sexy? And don’t come showing me the few pics I see with Idris and other famous daddies playing with their kids for a photo opp!! Where is that unknown mother’s photo opp being the main one caring for the child.  In fact, do we even know who they are? We hear NOTHING about them and they are the ones who birthed the child and are the primary caregiver!! They are the ones involved in the child’s schooling, extracurricular activities and missing out on so much in order to care for the child. Some may be wondering why this got to me so bad, and I cannot help that it does. For some reason, seeing his relationship and parenting background just raised some red flags to me and it took my mind back to how over the past 20 years I have watched so many children who deeply grieve and are traumatized by dads who are “sort of” there when life is convenient for them to be there.

So, if any man (or woman) is reading this, I hope it is not read as me trying to bash Idris or men in general.  I hope it’s not read as a way for me to look down on men and women with multiple partners who are the other parent of their child. Please don’t see it as that.  This is just a plea for dads to be there (unless you’re crazy of course, as stated earlier). Sigh. I just need dads to be there. I don’t care right now about who is sexy. My heart aches for these kids, so please do “daddying” differently. If not for you, if not for the woman, but for the many children born into the world, who did not ask to be here, who suffer deeply at the inconsistent presence of their father. If your life cannot accommodate their presence, then either stop making them or restructure your life so that you can be the father the child needs. And I should be able to express this without others thinking I am judging or being condescending to others who may have more than one baby’s father (or mother). We teachers have to be the ones to minister to these kids who most of their anger, school performance and behavior struggles are rooted in a dad who just IS NOT THERE, when he should be.

So while Idris is busy being sexy, I do wonder if there is a child with his last name wondering when dad will be there for some important or unimportant life event? And by “there” I do not mean by sending money and all the material things a child may want. By “there” I do not mean the occasional visit and overnight stays when there is not a movie shoot, date, or other important engagement. Children actually want unobstructed, uninterrupted, full access, full commitment of your time. That is more meaningful to them than money actually. I know of single mothers who are so desperate for the dad to be fully present that they refuse to push child-support as long as the dad is THERE.  Isn’t that deep?  They are able to see how the dad’s presence totally refreshes the child’s life and feel a price cannot be placed on that. Yes, that is sad, that the dad won’t do both, but if single mothers had to choose one or the other, I have often found that they choose TIME with the child over MONEY.

I wonder if Idris would cut back on his work to meet his current kids’ needs. And LORD, now he’s about to marry again and I’m sure a child is in the plan. Now he will have 3 kids from 3 different people in three different locations that he has to try and figure out how to be the dad they need! He is sexy but GOODNESS, how is he gonna be DADDY!? And here’s another dynamic, how are the 2 going to feel when he starts a family with his new wife and THOSE kids get to live with their daddy?? Those kids will get to experience the more present PRESENCE of their dad. That is going to be rough. Maybe nothing can be done, but it is my observation and I cannot help but be drawn to this perspective because it is the ever present battle of many students that I have had and have currently. So, him having these 2 kids already, while he is enjoying life, love and freedom and being the sexiest man alive is a struggle for me, because of my work with students who desperately want to be close to their dads. It is also a struggle for me, because I wonder how are things with the 2 mothers? When I think of the numerous single mothers grinding to provide for their kids emotionally and being there, while he is getting all of this recognition…it just seems unfair!! I can’t help but feel this way! I know he is fine and sexy, but after spending so much time crying with mothers in my office who need HELP and their children are dying inside because dad is not there as often as they need him and they cannot help them but to say, “You have to try and do life without him…”, and these same ladies don’t get much recognition. They are just struggling through, maybe not financially all the time, but emotionally as they put their entire life on hold to be there for the child.This week had been an especially intense week with regards to this issue for me and the mothers in my life.

I have had students go into a major funk for the simple reason that no matter how many times they call their dad, they cannot reach him and he won’t return the call until days or even weeks later, when there is nothing else for him to do. MY GOD!  The rejection the child feels at this and they don’t care if you are busy making a movie or making millions.  A child should be able to pick up a phone and get a mom or dad on the phone!! Idris is sexy and he deserved the title, and as I always do, I went and did some background reading on him. I usually do that when a man, especially a black man gets recognition. I did not find anything but good things written or said about him, but the “ladies man” comments did raise an eyebrow and then seeing the two kids who have primary residence with their moms, also raised concern and that was my observation of that. Seeing the two marriages that did not last long at all, also alarmed me. He is sexy, and my guess is he is a bit of a romantic, but there is a pattern here and I am praying this time will be different. For him, for his new wife, for the children they may bring into the world and I also pray his current children can process this as well and that he will be sensitive to that. I also loved how he used this moment to encourage people to vote, but to me being sexy is nowhere near as important or even as sexy as being a dad…WHO IS THERE…um CONSISTENTLY.

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