Being a SIngle Mother By Choice

BlogHer Original Post

On the heels of Blog For Choice Day, it seemed the right time to point out that an increasing number of women are making the choice to become single mothers. It’s a planned, pre-determined act -- a decision made by women who know they're ready to take on the care of another individual without the help of a partner.

If I’d gotten pregnant in my teens, or even up until the time I was 25 or so, there’s almost no hesitation on my part that I wouldn’t have kept the baby in the event of an unplanned pregnancy. I wasn’t ready; I didn’t know where I wanted to be or what I wanted to do. It’s not that I’ve had a life-epiphany in the past few years or suddenly become “more ready” to take on the care of another individual, but, at least in my case, just being in my late 20s has made the prospect of an unplanned pregnancy something that would require a lot more thought.

It’s not that I feel external pressure – after all, a recent statistic said a majority of women who have abortions are over the age of 25. But if was going to consciously decide to have a baby, if I was able to plan it and work it around my own timetable, becoming a mother wouldn’t happen for at least another few years.

It’s just that, since I know I'd like at least one biological child, and being 27 years old (28 this summer), I have to think about the fact that my time-window for conception narrows every year. If I were to get pregnant unexpectedly at 27, or 28, or 32, that could be the one. You know? That could be my child. What if I’ve been given just one shot at this motherhood-thing and I decided to throw it away, not knowing it was my only chance?

Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t something I’m stressing over. I know (or at least I’m pretty sure) I have a number of years in front of me to have this child. (There’s still…what? Another 10 or 12 years, at least?) It’s just something that I think about sometimes.

So the next question is, would I make the choice to be a single mother on purpose? Well, if I was ready for it; if I had the resources and support I needed -- sure, I wouldn’t be opposed to it.

There are an increasing number of women who purposefully make the decision to take on single motherhood, whether by having a baby biologically or going through the adoption process. They know it’s their time, and they're not going to be dissuaded just because they happen to be single.

I can only imagine, though, how difficult that decision must be for some people. There are plenty of mothers who are forced to take on larger parenting roles in the event of death or divorce/separation from their partner – but to start off that way, knowing from the beginning you’ll bear the lion’s share of the responsibility, seems to me a very brave thing to do. This isn’t an easy decision, and there must be resources in place – money to pay for extra help, and/or friends and family members who can lend a supporting hand.

Mikki Morrisette is the author of Choosing Single Motherhood: The Thinking Woman’s Guide, with a companion website that has resources and advice for women thinking about becoming single mothers. (And for anyone worried about not being able to find a man after having a child on their own? She even has a list of reasons why Single Moms Are the Ultimate Catch.) Mikki had two children by a donor father, and refers to herself as a "Choice Mom."

[…] I am Choice Mom to two kids. As a NYC writer/editor for 18 years, I saw a need among Choice Moms that I could help to fill. So I relocated to my less expensive home state, spent a few years doing research, and started to develop a toolkit for Choice Moms. I've now talked with hundreds of Choice Moms and Choice Moms-in-the-making to learn more about what we need as a community.

Aileen, a single woman over 40 who lives in DC, asks "We DO need men...don't we?"

I'd certainly like to think so.

But I am noticing an interesting phenomenon. I have very recently embarked on a journey to determine whether I'd like to take the steps necessary to have a child. Now. On my own.

I thought I had already dealt with this issue. I thought I had decided that I didn't want to deliberately bring a baby into the world without a father. I thought I had determined that I didn't want to be a mother badly enough to do it on my own.

Today, at this moment, I'm not so sure.

Louise Sloan is a single mother by choice, and the author of the book Knock Yourself Up: A Tell-All Guide to Becoming a Single Mom. In this post, she talks about not having enough time to get things done. She still has a Christmas tree in her apartment because she hasn’t had any help to move it out, and since she had her son she's accidentally killed two fish. It’s hard to juggle everything you need to do.

There are some things that are flat-out impossible as a single mom, it's true. Like, I had grand notions about painting a mural on the ceiling of my son's room. I even sketched out a design. Then I realized – who exactly was going to be keeping Scott out of the electrical sockets while I perched atop a ladder with a bucket of paint, channeling Michelangelo?

The tagline on Solo Mother’s blog? “All the responsibility. Half the time.” She shows that sometimes, no matter how comfortable a person is with their decision to be a single mother, it’s hard to do everything by yourself. She has a list of 13 things that she’s “sick of” dealing with as a single mother, and sums it up this way:

It’s hard. I need to make some big changes to our lives. I need to find a better place to live, probably with a roommate or another single mom, so I’m not pouring money into rent in a house that’s out to kill us. The economy is going down the tubes and life is only going to get harder for a while. I am not an extravagant woman; there aren’t many places where I can cut more corners… the shape of our lives is getting pretty round as it is, since we’ve been cutting corners for years. Bye bye, Netflix, and bye, gym membership. I can’t afford them, and I don’t know how I’ll get to the gym, anymore.

April is a single mother of two and she also struggles with having enough money and resources to provide her children with everything she wants to give them.

Being a mother comes with huge financial responsibilities as well. Providing food, clothing and shelter is just the beginning. I want them to have the chances to explore the world outside of our four walls and their schools. I want them to have times to be care free and simply enjoy themselves. I want them to have every book they want to read, and while I know that money cannot buy happiness, a healthy dose of it can keep me from freaking out if they eat another bowl of cereal or if my tire goes flat.

Were a woman to ask me my advice, I would try to stress just how much it means, and just how hard it is. I would want her to have all the possible knowledge of what motherhood means, and if she still wanted to have it, great. But if she really believed she was not ready, emotionally and/or financially, to commit to this lifetime endeavor, I would respect her decision to abort. […]

I not only support a woman's right to choose, I support a child's right to have the best possible chances of thriving. That starts with a mother who is up for the job.

Would you be a "single mother by choice?" If so, what kind of support system (or personal resources) would you have to have in place first?

Related reading:

Rachel has a blog called Single Mom Seeking. She’s also the single-mom columnist for Lifetime TV, and the author of Single Mom Seeking: Play Dates, Blind Dates, and Other Dispatches from the Dating World.

MSNBC: Married vs. single moms: Who has the better deal?

Parents.com: Surviving (and Thriving) as a Single Mom

iVillage: Confronting the Myths of Single Parenting

(Contributing editor Zandria is working her way through 101 Things while blogging at Keep Up With Me.)

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