Are Single Moms Crazy?
This article that was published on Slate last week asks the question, “do we all secretly think single moms are crazy?”
Obviously, my hackles went up just from reading the title. The author mostly is talking about the small subset of single moms who were or became single during their pregnancies, and chose to have and keep the baby regardless of their relationship status. I do not belong to that group, but to a certain degree, I chose to be a single mother. I had a marriage that was “good not great”, but a lot of women would have stayed, and I did not.
I really, really loved this post… in spite of the fact that, or maybe because, I have been guilty of having the same “old-fashioned” thoughts of which the author accuses the general population. She talks about the “unimaginative approach to family” that so many Americans have, and how that paradigm results in a collective shaming of the single mother that is somehow both discreet and overt at the same time. Everyone thinks there must be something wrong with us. Why would you choose that life for your child? It implies that there is something inferior about our lives and our parenting. It makes me bristle and yet I cannot seem to keep the thoughts from entering my own head.
“It’s hard to free yourself” from those thoughts,” she says, and that is certainly true. Even as I read this article and love every word, I have to admit that I am doing little more than looking for validation when I cling to phrases like “it seems a bit… overly literal… to think that love has to come from two parents, like water from hot and cold faucets.”
The life of a single mother– if you chose it, for yourself and for your child, what is it that makes you feel guilty? For me it is the idea of the selfishness, that I am choosing the freedom that I need over the security that my child might need. Or maybe it’s the “hubris” also mentioned here, the arrogance to think that you can be both mother and father, that you can be mother enough to make up for the fact that the father is not there.
I mean, I’d like to be viewed as all bohemian and independent. But in reality, is it best for my daughter, what I did? I ask myself this question over and over, in infinitely different ways, in my head, and on this blog. I don’t know, and I don’t know if I will ever stop wondering. I think it depends on the child and the mother and the situation that she chose to leave. For me, I think only time will tell, as I see how what kind of person my daughter grows into and wonder how she might have been different if I had chosen to stay.
And then there is the other side of the coin that the author talks about. That married parents may look at us and think that we single parents are getting away with something, that we are not “paying the usual price” or not making the usual sacrifices. We make plenty of sacrifices, it’s true, but not the ones that are involved in making a marriage work (a phrase which I truly despise, but that is a topic best saved for another post). The idea that a married mother might be jealous of me is a foreign one, but I like it and I think it can be true. I can love my child completely and live my single life at the same time, having fun, dating, spending time with my friends and burying myself in my career if I choose to do so, without the pressures and sacrifices that come from making a marriage work. I probably could have made my marriage work but I chose not to. Maybe I am getting away with something there. If I am, I am not ashamed.
What do you think? If you are a married parent, do you secretly think that people who choose to be single parents are crazy? Are you jealous of us? And if you’re a single parent, where do you stand on the issue?Add a Comment