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?

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  1. by Jessie

    On October 16, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    As a married parent I have to say, I am both jealous of you and I think your a little bit nuts too. :) I think about how hard it is to parent a child with two parents in the home, I can only imagine being by myself.

    Last night I had had it with my sick 9 month old and I woke up my husband to help and I crawled back into my bed. I couldn’t do that if I was single. I guess you just suck it up, but I am grateful that he’s here.

    On the flip side, I do envy your “freedom.” You can date, go out with friends or even just be by yourself when your ex has your child. It would be nice to just bring my kids somewhere for a whole weekend and be able to feel single again.

    When it comes down to it, we have to choose the life that is best for us. Right now, I choose marriage b/c I love my husband and I’m happy. You choose to single parent because you knew you wouldn’t have been happy with your ex. There is nothing wrong with either of our choices.

  2. by Katie

    On October 17, 2011 at 8:38 am

    If I’m being honest with myself, I suppose I read your blog out of a twisted sort of jealousy. Although I would never try to undersell the challenges you have as a single mom, there’s something so exhilarating about your decision to live life just for you and your daughter (and your career). As a married parent, it’s definitely something I think about, but reading your blog has sort of become my outlet for those thoughts.

  3. by Cynthia Gabriel

    On October 20, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Personally, I think single moms deserve a medal and a hot meal cooked every night.

  4. by Tanya

    On October 27, 2011 at 8:23 am

    I chose to end my relationship with my son’s father when I was 7 1/2 months pregnant. The pregnancy itself was a surprise after us being together only a month, and repeated confirmations from different doctors telling me I probably wouldn’t be able to have children. Although I wasn’t planning on a child, nor was I ready for one (is anyone really ever ready?), I made a decision to keep my baby. Before I made that decision, I asked myself seriously if I could do it on my own if I had to. The answer was yes, and obviously somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that I would end up doing it alone. My son’s father was showing signs of descending into alcoholism when I kicked him out, and I’ve recently found out he is in jail and hooked on painkillers. Maybe I made a selfish choice, but I also gave him ample opportunity to be present in his child’s life. Went out of my way to make sure he was at the hospital for my induction, and he left without telling me 3 hours before my son was born, and got drunk. Selfish or not, I told him he could be a father, but not only when it was convenient for him, that he was not allowed to hurt my child like that. After missed visitation that he scheduled numerous times, I cut him out of our lives and I know it was the best choice I ever could’ve made.

  5. by May (Amy)

    On October 29, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    I took care of my two year old ever since the day he was born. My husband and I have been separated for a long time but are now trying to make things work. So I’m not sure what I would have been considered before all of this…a single mother? Well, for most of the time, I did considered myself as a single parent because I had no help from my husband whether it being financially or just babysitting. Anyway, I don’t feel guilty for choosing to be a single parent that I was. My situation was a typical marriage that started off so good and ended up so bad. I left because I saw the father of my son as someone who wasn’t willing to change and someone who wasn’t going to be fit enough to even watch his own child. And I was able to do it alone. I worked and went to school but of course eventually one of those had to be eliminated. Fast forward to now, my son’s father and I are still in love with one another but are really just trying to figure ourselves out. I’m going back to school for medical assistant and my son is staying with his father for the mean time until I get through this program. Not all good things last but most things can be worked on. If I have to say it, the one thing that I kept asking myself then was, will I be able to be a father & mother to my son? To me, all that matters is that I love him and raise him to know what went down and what was right for him and I at the time.

  6. by Robyn

    On August 29, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    I am a single mom of my two year old son Luke. I was married to his father 6 years and I left him shortly after he was born for many serious reasons. I had the mentality that I was already doing it by myself even while having a title attached to my name as being someone’s wife. Just bc ur with someone doesnt mean they are active participants as fathers. With that said, I realized after I left that not only did I do all the same things I did before I divorced, but I made less money but always had more in my pocket. Spent more time and money on myself for things I had thought I had to sacrifice during my marriage. I treated myself to the little things in life I never made time for before bc I was taking care of my husband, my son, and myself if I had time…So us single moms may be a little crazy :) But dont think that its harder than staying with someone who doesnt help~ :)