Spouse, Parents…or Kids: Who Should Rank “First?”

Decisions, Decisions

While teasing a few Patriots fans on Facebook yesterday (Even though it may be blasphemous for me to admit this as a Steeler fan, I dislike the Pats more than I dislike the Ravens. To repeat something I said on Twitter a couple weeks ago, if the Ravens are beets — a food I thoroughly dislike, but respect — the Pats are beets…covered in sh*t), I saw something in my news feed that caught my eye.

I happen to be friends with Anslem of Naked With Socks On fame, and if you’re familiar with him at all you probably know that he’s recently married and just launched a joint blog with his wife — who’s also a writer. Anyway, the thing that caught my eye was a new post on their blog titled “My Mama or My Wife: Who’s the No. 1 Woman in a Man’s Life?” — a piece where Anslem wonders exactly how his marriage has affected the decades-old dynamic he has with his mother.

It’s funny how there are certain questions in life that you never think about until you have to. I found myself faced with one of those questions the other day: Who do I love more my mama or my wife?

At any other point in my life if I were posed with a question that pitted my mother against any other person, place or thing in the world and the woman who gave me life would win hands down every time. No questions asked. None needed. But recently my ability to answer such a question with absolute and immediate conviction began to waver a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother unconditionally and with all my heart but I can say similar things about my wife. Unlike the latter, though, the Mrs. is someone I chose to love. Somehow that makes this different.


Now, because the loves are so drastically different, attempting to categorize the love one has for a husband or wife and the love one has for parents doesn’t seem to be possible. It’s like asking someone “Which do you need more? Water or your heart?” — both extremely vital, but both serving completely different functions.

But, the more you think about, the more you realize your answer has to be your spouse. They’re the ones you’re choosing to start a life with, the ones you vow to be with until death, the “top spot on any beneficiary form.” Basically, if your spouse doesn’t supersede all, you shouldn’t be getting married. Everything and everyone else should become secondary…including your children.

I imagine that most of you all were with me until those last three words. “Yeah, Champ. You’re right. As much as I love Mom Dukes, my wife has to be number one. Really, what’s the point of marrying someone if they don’t automatically get that number one spot, and…what? Wait? What? Kids? My wife should take priority over the people we bring into this Earth??? Can’t roll with you on this one, man”

Lemme explain.

I think that the best families operate through a hierarchical matrix that goes something like this:

Parents, as a collective unit and as individual people, should value their kids lives over their own. Their primary duty as parents is to protect and provide for the people they’ve created, and if they were forced to make a choice between their lives — individually or as a collective parental unit — or their children’s lives, it should be a no-brainer.

But, the parents as individuals should love and value each other more than they do their children.

You know I can’t make a point without including some contrived analogy that actually ends up confusing more than it clarifies, so…

Let’s imagine a four person family (two parents, two kids) was on the Titanic. The ship is sinking, and there’s only room on the lifeboat for two people. In this situation, the parents should definitely put the kids in the lifeboat — sacrificing their collective lives for the lives of their children.

Now, let’s say you’re on that same sinking ship, and you were knocked off the boat, but the sea current miraculously led you to the shore. Once you get out the water, you glance off the shore and see that your spouse and your young child are in the water behind you, struggling to stay afloat. You can only save one, though. In this situation, as heart-wrenching and devastating as this decision may be, you reach down and save your spouse…even if your spouse doesn’t want to be the one to be saved.

The (somewhat morbid) rationale behind this? If you believe your spouse was put on Earth to be your spouse, they’re irreplaceable. (And, if you don’t believe this, you probably shouldn’t be getting married…but that’s another topic for another day.) Your kids, as precious as they are, aren’t as irreplaceable. (I hate the way that sentence sounds, but there’s really no other way to put it.)

Heh. I just had a vision that, years (YEARS, I TELL YOU. YEARS!!!¹) from now, some precocious little big-headed boy that (hopefully) looks more like his mother than me will be googling his daddy’s name, searching for any information he can find on me. He’ll come across this article, read the entire thing (because he’s a smart motherf*cker just like his dad), frown, find me sitting on the couch, and ask “Is it true that you’d let me die.”

Me: “Ummm…well…ummm”

Champ Jr (CJ): “That’s ok Dad. I understand. That’s what you’re supposed to do. When I get a wife someday, I’ll let you die too.”

Me: “I taught you well and sh*t, son. I taught you well and sh*t.” 

¹Knocking on wood

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Is Parenthood Losing Its Luster?

In the past couple of months, I’ve spoken on a panel, attended two parties in DC, participated in two photoshoots, and contributed to a relationship roundtable discussion. I’ve also attended numerous events in the Pittsburgh-area — happy hours, mixers, meetings, brunches, house parties, game nights; you name it, I’ve been there. In that time, I’ve probably met and/or talked to at least 150 to 200 different people in the 25 to 35 age range. Mostly African-American, mostly educated, and mostly well-adjusted.

And, in these dozens upon dozens of conversations, one overarching theme always seemed to repeat itself.

No one, I repeat, NO ONE wants to have kids

I realize that I’m being (a little) hyperbolic. I know that the people I talked to were mainly comprised of never-married-before grad students and young professionals — people who’d probably be less likely to have kids and less likely to want them than the general populace. Also, I did not discuss child raising and child bearing with each of these people I met and/ or talked to. In fact, the last time I met and/or talked to a large group of people — last Saturday at Reminisce (the monthly 90′s party VSB helps throw at Liv Nightclub in D.C.) — the main topics of discussion were “Do you want a shot?“, “Why is she in the men’s bathroom?“, “What’s your name?“, and “Wait…I can’t hear you. The music is too loud. WHAT’S YOUR NAME????”

But, whenever having children and families did happen to be brought up, ambivalence was easily the most popular answer. It’s not that they definitely don’t want kids, it’s just that they’re definitely not sure about it and it doesn’t seem like it would be the end of their world’s if they never had them. Surprisingly, this mindset isn’t held about marriage. While people definitely have their doubts about the institution of marriage, lifelong monogamy, and actually being married, we still generally do envision ourselves walking down the alter eventually. Kids just seem to muck things up.

I’ve been wondering why so many seem to feel this way. Having children is, frankly, the reason why we’re here. Why is it that so many of us are apathetic towards what should be the most natural human instinct? Since I couldn’t track down each of these people to ask them why, I figured I’d just ask a guy I have access to, a person who feels just as (if not more) “Eh” about having children: Me.

Champ: So Champ, tell me: Why don’t you want to have children?

Champ: Good question. Before I begin, I just wanted to say that I think you’re an awesome writer. You’re a f*cking rock star, man.

Champ: Thanks.

Champ: No problem. Anyway, it’s not that I don’t want to have kids. I love kids. What man hasn’t fantasized about having a Mini-Me following him around, mimicking him, and generally just always thinking that he’s biggest and best person on Earth? I’m also curious about what type of parent I’d be and what type of person I’d mold. I mean, all parents love their kids, but would I actually like mine?

Most importantly, since I probably wouldn’t have a child out of wedlock (knocking on wood), this tiny person would be a physical manifestation of the love his/her mother and I share. I imagine us (my wife and I) sitting on the couch and watching our kid do kid things while we give ourselves a look that says “Look at what we did!”

Thing is, each of the last couple of paragraphs represent gravy to me. They’re non-essentials, gift bags for the soul. I don’t need to be a father to feel fulfilled, to feel purposeful, to feel loved, and I don’t feel any earthly duty to procreate.

Perhaps this mindset — which seems to be more and more popular — is proof of our burgeoning egoism and self-involvement. We don’t want to have kids because those little motherf*ckers will slow us down. Maybe it’s evolution. We’re lucky enough to live in a place and a time where it’s no longer necessary to have children to help you plow the fields and milk the cows and sh*t.

Also, I wouldn’t discount the effect the internet has had on us. Historically, our drive to have children has always been tied to legacy. Basically, since we can’t live forever, we leave a piece of ourselves behind so a part of us does. But, with the advent of social media and everyone being able to carve out their own little niche in the universe, perhaps this fills that legacy need.

Champ: Wow. That was a great freakin answer. I’m officially in awe.

Champ: Yea. Sometimes I even impress myself. Hmm. Perhaps I should reconsider this child having thing to see if I can create something even awesomer than me.

Champ: Perhaps you should

So, you have the Champ’s answer. People of VSB, what’s yours? Do you find that more and more people seem to be “Eh” about having children? Why do you think that is? Also, how do you personally feel about being a parent?

—The Champ

What’s Going On?

By now, most people have heard about the Oakland elementary school where two 7-year old’s were alleged to have engaged in oral sex. Other allegations state that other kids were getting naked in the classroom. Basically, a whole lot of f*ckery going on in this particular Oakland elementary school. As could be expected, the 2nd grade teacher was suspended while an investigation takes place.

I’ve read quite a few articles where the blame is being passed around from the teacher, the school, the school district, and I’m pretty sure somebody blamed this all on Obama’s presidency. This is what happens when something like this happens in a public school. Everybody blames everybody else until it either goes away or the teacher gets fired and we all pretend that the problem gets solved.

While I can’t say that I’ve read much to prove this I’m almost positive that the parents of the two children are being (rightly) criticized and maligned. These kids have to pick up stuff like that somewhere. For instance, I was introduced to pr0n at a very young age. My older sister and her friends were at my house watching some flick and I went into the room and they couldn’t put me out because I threatened to tell. So at 6 years old, I was introduced to things no 6 year old needs to see. Coincidentally, my father found out what we watched the night before and then I had the infamous birds and bees conversation…at 6.

Luckily, I had parents who made sure to counter some of those images I saw in my undeveloped mind and cut me off at the pass before I took some of my new found knowledge to school. Not that I would have, I was still more concerned about G.I. Joe than Jane but the seed had been planted. No pun intended. Same with those 7 year old kids, except they didn’t or possibly don’t have anybody to guide their misguidance. Now, I’m making an assumption there but how in the hell are these kids being exposed enough to those types of images and exercises that they’d bring them to school and engage in them.

People keep saying that kids are growing up to fast nowadays. I’ve always believed that. Every time I’m in NYC I see these 16 year olds looking like they’re 45. Now granted, that’s because it seems like most women from NY age three times the rate of a fine cognac, but that’s neither here nor there. Shots fired. But damn, if we can’t stop our kids from losing their innocence at such a young age, we might as well just give the world over to Beelzebub and his cousins. Part of this could be babies raising babies and young parents of young kids not thinking twice about some of the stuff they allow their kids to see because they themselves either saw it or just don’t have the wherewithall an the sense God gave a rock to think about their actions.

But really, even the well-off, educated parents seem to be making huge f*cking mistakes as well by trying to be kids friends instead of parents. Somewhere along the way it seems like parents keep forgetting to be parents. Sure, the teacher is going to get fired (you can believe that) as it happened on his watch in his classroom, allegedly. But honestly I can’t say that I blame him like I’m sure a lot of people are doing. Yes, he has to pay because it’s his job to know what’s going on with his students and what those kids were doing is definitely (allegedly) an offense where somebody has to pay. One of my favorite quotes from National Treasure was, “Ben, somebody’s gotta go to jail.” While jail here is interchangeable, somebody always has to pay.

Nothing really profound or groundbreaking here, this is just something I thought about since I first heard about it. I’ve been curious as to people’s thoughts on this in any capacity. So I bring it to VSB….

…what the hell is going on people?


1984 and more: how important is spreading the (right) seeds?


two things immediately came to mind when hearing about the chicago high school where one out of every seven female students are pregnant

1. between this and the derrion albert story, i probably should have added “raising a child in chicago” to my list of things every grown man is scared to death of.

2. a conversation i had while visiting with my parents last weekend to wash clothes, go grocery shopping in their freezer, and see how they were doing. it began with the usual pseudo serious ribbing about not settling down or having a family yet that mothers are prone to have with their handsome sons. my dad then interrupted us with some silly non sequitor about one of the women he supervises. apparently this person’s daughter just celebrated her 22nd birthday and already has five children, and, from the way the mother talks about the daughters situation to my dad, each of the kids probably just should have been named “no chance”.

the convo then went in a different direction, as my mom lamented the fact that neither i nor any of my close friends have any children yet, but these fertile hoodrats are popping out kids by the bushel. basically, how will black america prosper if people like you (educated, no records or missing teeth) are waiting longer and longer to maybe get married and maybe have one child while d-block and chardonnay are producing a new seed every 14 months?

although she was half-joking, she brings up a valid point. as much as we love creating blogs, stores selling 8 dollar cupcakes, and internet p*rn, our main purpose here is to procreate and continue the species. if this trend continues, we (the very smart brothas and sistas) will basically make ourselves extinct, or at least so overrun by swarms of oddly-named hood spawn that extinction wouldn’t seem like such a bad idea

anyway, very smart brothas and sistas, how do you feel about this?

do you think that “people like us” are obligated to start having more children, or is this too eerily similar to the “selective engineering” that hitler was in favor of?

and, although this would never, ever, happen, in your heart of hearts, would you be opposed to some 1984 type sh*t? (forcibily enacting the reproductive limitation or mass sterilization of all the d-blocks and chardonnay’s?)

—the champ