Hearing of her passing, I immediately thought of her children. Quincy, Christian, D’Lila Star and Jessie James. Kim Porter was many things; yet being a mother was most important. This is a hard world to navigate without your mama, especially one so loving and committed. Kim’s four children now face a journey, filled with public and private moments of sadness and confusion. While I hope the world gives them the space they need to grieve and grow, I wish they could have their mama back more.
For many, though, her children were not the first to come to mind. So many first thought of and expressed sympathies for Diddy- the father of three of her children, the man who raised her eldest as his own. Following her death, Diddy released a video of behind the scenes footage from their 2006 ESSENCE Magazine cover shoot. Kim was pregnant and glowing. When she looked at and kissed him, you could feel the “super Black love.” And so many of us were rooting for it. After beginning a relationship with JLo when Kim was pregnant with their first child, many were happy to see that Diddy had come to his senses and realized that no one would love and support him like her.
But, for as beautiful as that video is, we can see it differently today. We can see a woman deeply in love with a man hiding a secret. While she was basking in the glow of her pregnancy and the future, she would later learn Diddy fathered a child outside of their relationship. Her twins and their sister would be born only five months apart. In her 2009 exclusive interview with ESSENCE Magazine, Kim tells her story. She left in very dramatic fashion. “I left because at this point in my life I want something different for myself. I invested ten years, I have children, and I’ve always stood by him. But now it’s time for me and what I want to do for Kim.” The glitz and the glamour of being with Diddy wasn’t enough to compensate for the unraveling of love and trust. To model a healthier way of life for her daughters, saying “I have girls now- it’s a different program,” Kim walked away.
Many don’t believe her. Whether it’s Diddy’s wealth or the fact that the split wasn’t messy and Kim didn’t trash him every chance she could, people believe that the two of them had some kind of arrangement. Diddy could do whatever he wanted and Kim would deal with it. After giving him three children and unequivocal support and after experiencing public embarrassment during both pregnancies, many believe she remained on the sidelines- faithfully committed to Diddy while he dated Cassie for the last decade. Ignoring her own words to the contrary, people essentially made Kim Diddy’s side chick- the woman who would put up with all of his foolishness and go nowhere.
And it didn’t help that, when Kim’s obituary surfaced on various outlets, Diddy was listed as her longtime partner and soulmate. Most news outlets only referred to her as Diddy’s ex-girlfriend or the mother of his children- completely ignoring her career as a model, actress and founding a thriving entertainment company with her best friends. She accomplished so much in this life but, in death, she was relegated to the soulmate of a man who publicly declared his love for his most recent ex just two weeks before she died, despite being in a new relationship with someone else. She deserved so much more and she knew it. That’s why she left.
None of this is to say that Diddy didn’t love her. I believe he did. Yet, it’s in these moments that the whole truth matters most. When people die, gone are all the opportunities we have to do things differently and get it right. Regret is real. No amount of history revision can change what we have been to people who have loved us. What I hope men learn from Diddy is the importance of being healthy, stable partners behind closed doors and in the light of day. Nobody should be loved in secret while someone else gets the public displays of affection. And that includes the loves of one the most powerful men in music.
When it comes to their relationship, Diddy’s words can’t be more paramount than Kim’s and she told her truth. Motherhood deeply mattered to her. In walking away from an unhealthy relationship, she desired to show her sons how to love and her daughters what it meant to be loved. If we’re searching for a way to understand and honor Kim’s legacy in relationship to Diddy, maybe that’s it. Kim Porter, like so many mamas, proved that no amount of status is worth perpetual disappointment. She showed us that it is possible, for the sake of the children, to maintain levels of grace and emotional maturity when remaining connected to former lovers who didn’t give us their best. She embodied what it meant to move forward and live a whole life.
I keep thinking about her children, especially her daughters. They lost her before they even got a chance to really know themselves. It is a cruel reality that, though a loving and devoted father, the one now solely entrusted to see the twins into womanhood is the man who marked their mother’s journey with its fair share of pain. But as a friend of mine, walking this same journey, reminded me: “the kids will handle their father in due time. We always do.” And that is the truth. Life often presents us with the pivotal moment to confront our fathers for what they did to our mothers. And when we do, they are not looking into the eyes of their baby girls. They are looking at women who know the toll loving them took on our mothers. They are looking at women who understand why our mamas had to leave. And, if ever in the same situation, these fathers -these men who don’t really understand that loving us requires a deep love and respect for our mothers- are looking at women who will walk away, too.
…and to those mothers who modeled a healthier and higher way, we say thank you.