Friday, November 14, 2008

Are we single by choice, or chance?

I recently had a brief chat with a young man who, like many do, presumed that Choice Motherhood is a conscious decision to be SINGLE and a mom, rather than to consciously become a MOM who happens to be single.

Since he's in an interesting orbit of new young friends I seem to have connected with recently -- and thus I actually KNOW him personally -- I felt the need to correct his perception rather than let it slide as an errant comment.

But it did remind me of a debate that was on the Choice Mom board not long ago. One fairly young woman who was still dating in the hopes of finding a mate before she pursued motherhood made the comment that no one would really CHOOSE to become a single mom.

And it sparked, of course, a mini-firestorm of posts, reflecting a variety of views about whether we are single by choice, or by chance.

Some of us are single because we want to be.

Some of us are single because we haven't been properly inspired to marry someone.

Some of us are single because no one has properly been inspired to marry us.

Some of us are single because a serious relationship ended and we haven't yet been able to develop a new one.

Many of us become single moms because it seems a better option than being a childless woman.

Here are a few of the perspectives that were shared on the board:

Catherine joked:
I personally would rather have a husband IF and ONLY IF he was ridiculously good-looking, fantastically witty, full of joie de vivre and could be readily stored in a freezer when I was sick of him; I would also prefer a man with an athletic physique coupled with psychic powers, a peerless sensitivity, and the ability to turn into a pizza when I was hungry. I know I am being flippant, but there's no harm in my admitting to being fussy. Let's face it, there are absolutely loads of men out there who seem like Mr Wrong to me. Mr. Perfect probably doesn't exist, but dreaming is great fun, as long as you get on with your life's business simultaneously...

Natalie added:
Frankly, I never even thought about this until this discussion today. If you had asked me BEFORE I became a Choice Mom, I would have THOUGHT that I'd prefer to have a partner to raise children with. But now that I think about it, in the actuality of parenting my daughter for the last almost three years, I really do not think that is my preference. I really love our family and its dynamic, small as we are. I'm sure it is in part revisionist history on my part, perhaps subconsciously making peace with my life, but I have a hard time even imagining it any other way.

I love the time my daughter and I spend together and don't relish the thought of dividing my time and attention to another person. When I speak with my friends with children and partners about family life, I no longer have even a twinge of "I wish I had that" (though I sure did before my daughter came to me). Perhaps it is the "control freak" part of me, but I like not having to negotiate (or argue) with another person about parenting decisions. I am really happy with things the way they are. Whatever standards I had for a man when I was "single" (funny, I actually no longer think of myself that way), that bar is so much higher now. He would REALLY have to add value to my/our life. Anyway, just musing on a rainy Tuesday afternoon, and joining the group who do not "wish I had a partner to share this journey with." Who would have thought?

What about you? If you don't yet have a child, do you wish you had a partner -- or not? (And I know a fellow Choice Mom-in-the-making who is interested, like I am, in doing some research with women in their 20s for whom this is becoming a first choice...we'd like to know why.)

If you are now a Choice Mom, have your feelings about being partnered changed?