Happy Father’s Day Lawrence! What to do when life hits

Opinion: Sometimes life hits you with moments that require you to level up in the maturity department.

Issa Rae and Jay Ellis are pictured in season 4, episode 10 of Insecure. (Credit: HBO)

Welp. Lawrence is about to be a daddy, daddy. Not a zaddy, but a daddy! He’s about to be losing sleep and packing diaper bags. Sorry to this man, but playtime is over! Real, real adulthood is here. (I hope Condola got him a card for Father’s Day.) 

As tragic as this is (I’m side-eyeing everybody for this twist), the reality is that almost half of all pregnancies each year are unplanned. So, this is real life. (But still.) Black love isn’t just about the good times. (I guess.) And life isn’t just about the fun stuff. (Alright, already!) Sometimes life hits you with moments that require you to level up in the maturity department. This is one of those moments. 

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Tragic news doesn’t have to mean a tragic ending. From Issa’s standpoint, it hurts — yes. Being with Lawrence will now be more difficult — for sure. And she has every right to opt for that quick exit out the back door that Nathan is holding open for her. But at the end of the day, the first question she should be asking herself is how much does she want this thing with Lawrence? This is probably an unpopular opinion, but I think Issa should consider staying. 

Life is never neat. We don’t get to carve out nice little squares of perfection and leave the bad stuff to be experienced by someone else. Everyone gets their share of both good and bad. And none of us gets the option of customizing our bad experiences so that they are effortlessly manageable for our busy lives. (Life is not an Apple Store.) These bad experiences do their own thing. At some point (and often at several points), they will knock all of us flat on our backs just the same. It’s how we get back up that matters. 

Do we wallow on the ground asking ‘why me?’ Or do we rise to the occasion of this new challenge? The reality of Issa and Lawrence’s situation is that it’s 2020, not 1955. Many people make blended families work every day. It’s not a choice everyone has to make, and as I said, it’s cool if Issa feels that it’s not for her. That’s her right. But it’s possible. I think the bigger question is not whether the situation is ideal or not, but whether the good parts of being with Lawrence outweigh the bad, and whether, collectively, the three of them can rise to the maturity level that this new situation requires. 

So again, I ask — how much does Issa want this thing with Lawrence? Does this “happy” that she speaks about with him outweigh the challenge of potentially being a step mother? Is Lawrence worth the sacrifice of stepping into this unchartered territory? Can she trust his character to respect the boundaries of their relationship and his new role as a father? 

These are the types of questions that matter more than whether it’ll be difficult. Our focus on the bad can sometimes blind us to the good. And despite what people say, there is good here. Season four Lawrence is a different guy than season one Lawrence. He has his stuff together, he communicates, processes his feelings, and I think he genuinely wants to be with Issa. There is good here, so it’s important to not lose sight of that when difficulties arise. 

Anything can be difficult if you let it be. Life is difficult. Even if Issa decides to leave Lawrence, difficulty will one day knock on her door again. With a new man. (Possibly Nathan.) And she’ll have the option to stay or leave him as well. But no matter how far we run, we never escape all of the bad. We just have to decide what bad we can live with and what we can’t. (And despite what Twitter — or our friends — think(s), that’s an individual decision.) Part of growing up is learning to roll with the punches. 

For Lawrence, this was an absolute sucker punch. (A Craig hitting Debo with that brick type of punch.) To say he wasn’t expecting this is an understatement. (If only there had been a BET Rap-It-Up commercial to save him.) No matter what Issa decides, Lawrence’s life is about to change. If she stays, he’s gotta be considerate of two women and a baby. If she leaves, he’s gotta process another break up (and possible guilt or regret over being the cause) while still tending to a new baby. And I’m not going to even touch on how this San Francisco move complicates things. The only thing we know for sure is that all roads will require him to put on his big boy briefs and get to daddying. And growing. And co-parenting. With Condola. (Le sigh.

Issa Rae and Jay Ellis are pictured in season 4, episode 8 of Insecure.

I would be remiss if I didn’t say a few words about our dearest Condola. (The fact that ya’ll had “Canola Oil” trending tells me all I need to know about how ya’ll feel about her.) She is the Kinu to Issa’s Whitley. The black congregation doesn’t know what to do with her. Half of Twitter is throwing shade at her sudden “readiness” to be a mother. And although I don’t understand this particular shade, I think I speak for all of Black Twitter when I say that she bet-ter (*Compton accent*) come correct in season five. (Just sayin’.) She has so much power to wreak havoc if she wishes. That’s scary for anyone in Lawrence or Issa’s shoes. So this new baby presents an opportunity for her to up her maturity game as well.

No one asked for this. (*cough, cough* I will keep my Condola & Lawrence comments about this “careful” use of contraception to myself.) But when a baby’s involved, none of that matters. The welfare of the child is what matters. The harmony of the relationships of all parties involved is what matters. Whether, collectively, their maturity level can rise to the occasion is the most important question. 

As an attorney, I often see people in the middle of divorces, custody battles, and child support fights. It can get chaotic. But not always. As quiet as it’s kept, there are many families that actually make the blended life work for them. And the common themes I’ve noticed from these more functional blended families is their willingness to put pettiness to the side. 

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These families forgive past wrongs, move forward, and work to do what’s best for the child. The mothers and step mothers (or fathers and step fathers) approach each other with respect. They acknowledge boundaries. They have regard for one another. The exes (now parents) treat each other with dignity. They communicate. And they too establish, and respect boundaries. It’s not easy, but I’ve seen it occur. 

So, let’s not make the possible impossible. If Issa, Lawrence, and Condola can step up to the maturity plate, this situation does not have to spell doomsday. It can actually be beautiful. A new life is a joy. A miracle. 

As children we expect everything to be perfect. Children abandon things the second they get difficult. But we’re all adults. And adulthood requires that we approach challenges with a different mindset. It requires maturity. It requires a level of acceptance. An understanding that we were never promised a perfect life. We’re not even promised (and won’t get) a perfect partner. So at the end of the day, we have to focus on the good, and let maturity carry us the distance through the bad.

(But having said all of that, Lord help this baby.)