Many of my peers from high school went on to have children with the people they deemed "the one" during that period of time. While some of them lucked up, the rest of them soon discovered what so many of us already knew: staying with your high school sweetheart is as rare as a unicorn sighting.
When I first left for college, that was when my millennial peers began booming babies faster than the OGs, or at least that's what it felt like at the time given just how many of them bombarded my timeline with ultrasounds and baby bumps. It was also the first time I felt the words of disdained adults before my time branded into my young mind, "I'm not mad at you. I'm just disappointed."
Their naivety baffled me.
You see, they had the babies but I had the firsthand insight. I had been their baby, and I was wary of building a life with someone you tagged your high school sweetheart upon witnessing what happens when two people mature in different ways. At different paces.
This was my parents who had me while my mother was 17 and my father was 21.
While their struggles are heartfelt, I also felt the impact of them choosing to bring me into this world based on temporary feelings of lasting love, poor judgement, and their individual searches for worth and esteem.
For my mom, and so many other teen moms, having me meant securing the unconditional love that was never felt and in some cases love they truly never had during their childhood. She did this despite what I'm certain was feelings of uncertainty in a subpar relationship.
Because of this, I was fated to a tumultuous world and stuck in between, as the byproduct of my parents' poor choices. This was the fate I saw for many of my high school friends who deemed their highschool sweethearts worthy of 18 years...minimally. Sadly, this truly was the result of many of those love-lust encounters yielding in children.
I wouldn't dare make this out to be some type of lip service for any and everyone who dares to have children before their prime and full development -- cognitively and otherwise. But, we've seen it all too often to ignore the dangers.
While couples end their relationship and part ways, how do you part ways with the shitty parent you had the misfortune of being dumped with? You don't because you can't.
In a nutshell, my father is the worst case scenario when it comes to toxic masculinity. I grew up watching him abuse the women in his life, refer to the mother of his children as b*tches both directly and indirectly to his children, and he's taught us young to keep our mouths shut about his extramarital affairs.
You may shrug this off, I did the same. I mean I had basic daddy issues, but no big deal. Or at least that's what I thought, up until an event in recent months allowed me to see the PTSD that I had developed as a result of my father. I woke up to a new group chat that included my father and mother. In this thread, he threatened my mother -- referring to her as every b*tch in the book. With immediate anxiety kicking in, an anxiety that sent me into hyperventilation, I was reminded of the fear that I felt all those years ago and the panic I spun into with every weekend spent with my father.
This is what I've dealt with all of my life, and I'm sure you can imagine all of the ways this has affected me as a woman, and even more so, as a person.
My mom is not without fault, not in her complicitness of creating me with a less than acceptable father figure in countless ways, and certainly not in her own toxicity that I've inherited. And I won't go into a victim blaming spiral saying she should've noticed the signs, but I will stress that at any given age, it's imperative to engage in sex with caution.
Every case is not as extreme and conversely, it would be naive of me if I didn't acknowledge that carefully selecting a co-parent for your child is easier said than done. After all, we're talking affairs of the heart here. Nonetheless, it's a responsibility that you have the minute you deem yourself responsible enough to have sex.
Ensure that your child is set up with a parent who they can be proud of; a parent who instills them with the type of love that sets the bar for their relationships to come and the one with themselves.
Although this is something to consider at any age, it seems more likely that, with personalities and brains still developing, this is more likely amongst young folks looking to defy the odds.
But let my hurt, disappointment, and trauma serve as a lifelong cautionary tale that our decisions to recklessly choose love can have consequences. Be careful of who you decide to make a baby with because while it will impact you, the damage done to the children is irreparable.
Never forget, broken people break people.
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Motor City native, Atlanta living. Sagittarius. Writer. Sexpert. Into all things magical, mystical, and unknown. I'll try anything at least once but you knew that the moment I revealed that I was a Sag.
How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
I’m willing to bet that this is not the first time you’ve seen this couple. Dalen Spratt is a television producer, owner of a tailored men's suit line, and creator of Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests, which is currently streaming on Destination America. Stacey Spratt is also a serial entrepreneur, focusing mostly on events and the nonprofit world, and she is the owner of two award-winning craft beer bars called Harlem Hops. But their accolades are not what united them.
The couple met years ago at their alma mater, Clark Atlanta University, when they were still working to create the life they have now, and if you had told them then that they’d eventually tie the knot, the pair probably would’ve laughed in your face.
Today, they’re new parents, flourishing in their careers, and each others’ “teammates.” When desiring love, Dalen recommends not looking to other couples for advice. And Stacey advises staying true to what you want. “Don’t put age or limitations on love and children. If God could do it for me, why can’t he do it for you?”
Here's How We Met.
How did you meet?
Dalen: We met in 2005 when she was advising the Greek sororities and fraternities in college. She was old as hell in college, and I was a young buck (laughs). Everybody had a crush on her, but I didn’t think much of it. Then, in 2007, we were in the same grad school class, but she still wasn’t trying to see me then either. I had to catch her five years ago; I was very patient.
Stacey: Yeah, everybody in our grad school class called him Young, Fresh to Death because he was always dressed in B-school (what CAU affectionately refers to as business major classes), and we’d just wear sweatpants (laughs).
So, I know Dalen was always attracted to you. But what about you? Did your attraction to him develop over time?
Stacey: So 2006-2008 – all the years went by. I don’t think we were really thinking about each other at all back then. Years later, I had an event in Dallas, and I booked him to be a speaker. Then, a few years ago, Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: "If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you." But I still thought he was too young at the time, and he started pulling receipts. Taraji P. Henson was dating someone young at the time, Gabrielle Union–
Dalen: First of all, I didn’t do that. You did that.
Stacey: Okay, I did. I thought he was a cutie pie, but that age thing was on my mind!
"Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: 'If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you.'"
Talk to me about the first date. How did he change your mind?
Stacey: Our first date was at Tin Lizzy's in Atlanta. During that time, he was living in Dallas, so it was long-distance. But he came into town, and we just had a good time. We talked a lot, which we still do. It wasn’t anything fantastic.
Dalen: Don’t downplay our first date.
Then, walk me through your courtship. How did you get to the next level? What was that conversation like?
Stacey: I think he knew at age 43 or 44 I wasn’t playing around. But also, I think it just naturally progressed.
Dalen: Yeah, it just happened naturally. And I’m going to be honest, I don’t think initially either one of us thought it would be as serious as it was. She thought I was too young and I wasn’t ready for marriage, kids, and all that. I think we both thought we were just hanging out. But after spending so much time together, a lot of stuff started happening. Like, she had to have surgery early on. It wasn’t just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That’s why we still don’t have an anniversary date because we never really asked.
"It wasn't just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That's why we still don't have an anniversary date because we never really asked."
What made you want to commit to each other?
Dalen: The moment I knew Stacey was for me was from a phone call. I don’t really like talking on the phone, and I can be really blunt sometimes. But we were talking, and I said, ‘I don’t really feel like talking anymore.’ And she was just like, okay, and hung up. I wasn’t trying to be rude, and she understood that. It sounds bad, but that’s how I knew she just got me. I felt like she could get my random awkward moments, and she does to this day.
Stacey: For me, I liked him as a person. Even when times get rough and tough, I could still like him as a human. He is my best friend. We have time. We laugh until we cry, and it’s just always like that. Even when we get pissed at each other, something happens, and we fix it. Also, how he treats his mother. That’s a momma’s boy, but I’m a daddy’s girl – so I get it. I know how I want to be treated, and I see how he is with her and that’s beautiful.
What are some important lessons you’ve learned about yourself through loving your partner in this relationship?
Dalen: I grew up an only child and she grew up with siblings. So, when you have someone who is used to doing things by themselves, there is definitely a learning curve when you get into a serious relationship. It’s funny now, but it was definitely a process.
Stacey: I agree – definitely the only child thing. There’s times I look at him like, did you ever live with anyone else? That comes from being momma's baby, too. I have to say, my “mother-in-love” spoiled him. But also with Axel (their daughter), that brings another level of patience.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images
What was the biggest challenge that you had to overcome together?
Dalen: We’ve gone through a lot within the years we’ve been together. We suffered two miscarriages – I’d say that’s the biggest.
Stacey: Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me. I was wondering if I can’t carry [a child] what that looks like for us. We had very real conversations pretty early in our relationship.
"Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me."
What do you fight the most about?
Dalen: Nagging. Stacey nags; she’s a complainer. She’s that momma that will look in a room and just hunt for something to complain about. Like, I’m worried for Axel when she's in high school.
Stacey: It’s because I like things to be in place. He leaves stuff all over the place. I can tell where he’s been in the house because something is left around. So he says I’m nagging – but it’s like, just get your stuff.
What are your love languages?
Dalen: Stacey is gifts all day.
Dalen: We’ve talked about this. xoNecole is about to cause problems in our home (laughs).
Stacey: Obviously I love you. *thinks again* It’s words of affirmation.
Dalen: That’s it.
What’s your favorite thing about each other?
Dalen: I’ve always respected her business-mindedness. That may sound superficial, but it’s not because I’ve never been with someone who thinks like me. It’s one of my most treasured things about her. I remember one day, I was just running through ideas with her, and each time Stacey had a suggestion on how I could make it better. It’s just very comforting. She takes whatever I’m doing and elevates it – including me.
Stacey: I love Dalen’s hustle and creativity. He’s been on multiple shows, and he continues to create, produce, and reinvent himself and the product he’s putting out. I love that we can create together and bounce things off each other. Even though we may be in different arenas, there’s nothing he can’t offer me great advice about. I love that drive.
Finally, how did you know it was love?
Dalen: Well – she said it – first. (laughs)
Stacey: And he looked at me and smiled! He didn’t say it back. We were on a trip, out of the country.
Dalen: We were arguing when she said it, and she just threw it out.
Stacey: But we continue to do that. We’ve spent holidays and everything outside of the country.
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Nothing beats the “Sunday Scaries” quite like a Sunday reset tailored to your needs. While the weekend never quite feels long enough to recoup from all of life's demands and responsibilities, making the most of the 48 hours we have to gear up for the week ahead is a self-care practice that every woman can benefit from.
How To Do a Sunday Reset Routine
The beauty of a Sunday reset is that it’s something you can define for yourself. On a personal level, only we know the tasks, projects, workload, and duties that demanded our attention during the week prior, so how we choose to recharge may look different for everyone. Some may feel the need to tackle weekend chores or run a few errands, while others could find that an hours-long binging spree of their favorite TV show or simply doing nothing, can do the heart some good.
Resetting your time, space, and mind over the weekend is all about listening to your body and honoring your needs. When you pause and reflect on what will make you feel the most productive, you gradually discover what a successful Sunday reset looks and feels like for you. By taking some time to plan and reflect, you allow yourself to approach the new week from a place of ease.
How To Build the Best Sunday Reset Routine
But what kind of reset could be right for you? Let’s consider the following: are there things you could scratch off your to-do list to put your mind at ease? Did this week drain you and now you need to catch up on rest? Are you looking to get ahead of a demanding week? If you’ve found yourself agreeing with at least one of these scenarios, we’ve put together a couple of tips to inspire your next Sunday reset routine needs.
The Sunday reset routine for the woman who thrives on productivity:
Hey goal-getter! For you, a typical Sunday reset looks like planning and execution. The weekend is a chance for you to catch up on all the chores and tasks that your hectic weekday schedule didn’t allow for. When planning your Sunday reset, to-do lists are your best friend. Lean on your list to stay organized and keep track of the stores you need to visit, meals to prep, and house chores to tidy up in order for you to feel like your most accomplished and productive self.
Be sure to give yourself some grace if you don’t hit everything on your list, and be sure to reward yourself for what you were able to carry out — because either way, you deserve it.
The Sunday reset routine for the woman who needs some TLC:
David Espejo/Getty Images
Self-care queens, we see you. And we know that your Sundays are sacred. You are intentional about your Sunday resets because you know that you can’t pour from an empty cup. In your case, resets are all about taking time to reflect and set your intentions for the week ahead — which can show up in many forms. From journaling and reading a new book to taking a long walk and ordering in your favorite meal, you don’t play when it comes to the power of self-nourishment.
Take a few minutes to look back on the previous week and reflect on what went well and what didn't. Think about what you accomplished, what you could have done better, and what you learned so you can approach the week with a clear mind and heart.
The Sunday reset routine for the woman who desires to do absolutely nothing:
I know you’re used to high-achieving and tackling your goals, but let me tell you something: rest is productive. You’ve spent the last five days hustling, killing your projects, and showing up for the people in your life, but now it’s time to take a moment to simply be. No to-do lists, no errands to run, no socializing — you deserve time to zone out and reconnect with yourself in solitude.
Sleep in. Watch scandalous reality TV. Get lost in your thoughts. You’re not lazy for spending time alone and letting the laundry pile up; we know you’ll get to that later. This Sunday reset is about taking time to center yourself in the present moment, you’ll be back on the grind on Monday, but Sunday is all about you.
Featured image by Delmaine Donson/Getty Images
Originally published on March 4, 2023