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?


Mindful Mama said...

I am very interested in hearing where people fall on this. For some, it is a conscious decision to do it on their own without a partner. It is not necessarily a fall-back position or a clock-ticking where they figure they'll have the baby now and find the partner later. Some women just want to be single and be a mom. It would be interesting to have a poll with detailed choices and find out where we all fall on the spectrum! very interesting conversation.

Anonymous said...

At 33 I have just entered the process of becomig a mother through AI. I am really looking forward to being the only parent and avoiding the fights and stuggles I see in my coupled friends. I am not opposed to being married but I haven't MET a man I'd like to marry so I doubt that it is going to be an issue!

Sandy C. said...

Becoming a single mother was pretty much always my first choice. I actually started researching donor insemination and adoption options when I was 18 - I am now 28 and about to take the leap from "thinking" to TTC in June of 2009.

I'm not opposed to marriage, I was just never interested in romance or intimate adult relationships. If I ever did meet someone I wouldn't object to living with and sharing my life with, I still probably wouldn't marry him. I'm simply too independent and wouldn't want to tie myself in such a way.

Chelsie Kane said...

When I was little I always envisioned being married w/kids, but w/a partner who was on the same page as me or let me make all the major parenting decisions or something along those lines.
Now that I'm almost 32 and have seen half my friends get married, have kids and get divorced, and since my recent un-engagement I'm feeling more like being a single parent is the way to go. No one to argue w/over parenting styles, don't have to worry about getting divorced, no jealousy that all my attention is focused on the baby... It's sounding fantastic and I'm ready to jump in, and then it hits me that I still long for a meaningful intimate relationship w/a man for myself, not necessarily to co-parent and I wonder how I'm gonna reconcile both of these great needs. I know a relationship can wait, and babies cannot so I continue on the path of single parenting. Not my first choice or my most ideal choice, but one I'm learning to embrace more wholeheartedly each day.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts have been swirling around this topic lately. I used to think that I wanted to get married and have kids. I would have the whole package, and life would be peachy. But within the past year or three, my biological clock started screaming at me. I'm not pushing the limit on my fertility, but it has really hit home how much I want to become a mom, and how I want to do it soon. So I started getting my finances in order, house-hunting, and reading everything I can get my hands on concerning conception, pregnancy, and childrearing. Then recently I have met a couple of guys who seem perfectly nice and interested in me. I've gone out on a few dates with each of them. But somehow now that I've set off on my path to choice motherhood, they're just not as compelling as they would have been a couple of years ago. I keep thinking of them not as potential boyfriends or partners but as potential fathers or (worse) resenting them as barriers to my grand plans of motherhood. Not that they wouldn't want kids eventually. They claim that they do, and I could see them being good at it. But recently my envisioned life has been baby-makes-two, and it feels like these nice, intelligent, attractive, funny, charming guys are threatening that! This is freaking me out, frankly. Shouldn't I want my kids to have a dad? And then I start thinking about how much easier it would be to have the life that I envision with two incomes, but that's not a partnership, that's a sugar daddy. It's not fair to the guys and not fair to the potential kids and not fair to me. So I'm working on patience. Lots and lots of patience.

Jennifer said...

I share quite a few feelings that are mentioned in the previous comments. I am soon to be 28, so by medical standards I have plenty of time but by my standards, I don't want to try and start a family well into my 30's.

I would like to bring a child into the world with a mommy and daddy, but that's not a requirement and I don't want that to stop me from having a child. Honestly, I want a child a lot more than I want a husband. I almost had the chance to have a child with my last boyfriend but when we would talk about it, he would always tell me how a child should be raised. I didn't like that one bit. I would rather decide that on my own.

I'm with the other people who say, I can always get married but I can't always have a baby. Plus who's to say that if I do decide to go through with TTC on my own, that one day I won't meet a great guy and expand my family with him.

If any of y'all have any valuable websites or first hand knowledge about the process of TTC through AI please email me at

Avid said...

I have heard several women saying that they wish to have children in a marriage but their biological clocks starts to run out and they haven't found a partner. I think that the problem with these women is that they are not happy with themselves and they are in desperate need of company and this feeling scares men away. To be able to find a good relationship a woman need to be happy with herself how she is. These women are only thinking about having somebody in their lives, men feel that and they just attract the wrong kind of man, Then they end up single and run to get pregnant. I am the daughter of a single mother by choice, and even though my mmother is the best mother in the world and she always gave me everything I need, when i grew up I had severe problems with my relationships with men. I got married and ended up in a terrible divorce because my marriage ended up in a father daughter relationship and I couldn't relate properly to a man. After I got divorce I decided that I didn't care about being alone and that I was going to be happy by myself and dedicate my time to myself, sounds selfish but I wasn't going to put a child through the pain of not having a father. If I had to end up with no children no problem, I didn't need anybody in my life, and after a few years with that mentally, without looking for it and without worrying about children or biological clock I ended up with a wonderful man. So I learn that the more you worry about your biological clock the more you won't find the right guy.