Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Why single?

During my last post, I talked about the emotional challenges that come along with having a child as a single woman.  I wanted to take some time to talk about the advantages from my perspective.  I happen to be a heterosexual female, so I'm writing from that angle.  But, there are equal advantages for women of other sexual orientations as well.

To start with, look at the statistics on marriage success in this country.  People who get married aren't as likely to stay married as they were during my grandparents' generation.  Now, I happen to be one of those people who doesn't necessarily believe in marriage for everyone.  I believe that two people can have share a lifetime commitment to each other without being married, if that's what they wish to do.  Personally, I'm not ever ruling it out, but if I go through life without it, I will still be happy and fulfilled.  I haven't really had much success with long-term relationships.  The ones I have been in weren't with men I would want to have a child with; yes, even the one where a child was in the picture.  I'm still hopeful that I will meet someone with whom to share my life with, but I have realized that may happen after my time to have a child is over.  I was never raised with the expectation that I had to follow the traditional "love, marriage, baby" path to creating a family.  I am not from a traditional nuclear family, so I have always known that there are many types of families, each with their own set of benefits and challenges.   

As I was considering my decision over the last couple of years, I thought about my friends and family members who have children.  I thought about my own immediate family.  What I realized is that the majority of the couples I have known who have children didn't stay together.  Those who are still together are doing quite well, but they are in the minority.  To put it plainly, almost all of them tried to stay together for the sake of their children.  Many of them would never have lasted beyond a year if a child weren't in the picture.  And, I have to wonder how that affects their children.  My parents broke up and got back together about twice a year until I was about 9.  Every time, I had to move to a new house, change schools, and make new friends.  I never saw my parents as being in love with each other.  I'm not sure what it was, but I feel very strongly that it wasn't love.  When I was 8, I told both my parents that they didn't act like two people who were in love, and that they shouldn't be together anymore.  My father moved on to marry my step-mother when I was 12, and they are still together.  My mother had my brother when I was 13, and fell back into the same toxic relationship pattern with his father.  The got married when I was 18, and they were divorced three years later.  My brother and I are both damaged because of the choices our parents have made.  I have read many criticisms of the choice mom community, and many of them have to do with the belief that it is unfair to bring a child into the world without a father.  I believe it's unfair to bring a child into the world where the father and mother cannot provide a loving environment for the child to grow up in.  If a couple truly wanted to make sure they would be able to do so, they would have to stay together for several years to see how their relationship pans out before introducing children into the picture.  Because people are getting married/becoming partnered later in life, this isn't always possible. 

Choice mom critics also like to point out that it is always stressful for a single parent to raise a child without a support system.  Wake up!  The majority of children in this country are raised by single parents at some point; whether by choice or not!  And, those parents create wonderful support systems for themselves and their children.  Heck, my child doesn't even exist yet, and yet he or she already has a network of friends and family members ready and waiting with open arms.  My child is wanted and loved by many, and honestly, not every child can say that.  It will be a hard road for me to travel, but it would be hard either way.  Parenting always is.

I was recently interviewed for an article in the New York Times about younger women who are in the process of becoming choice moms.  One of the questions surrounded whether this was plan B or plan A; meaning, was this my back up plan because the whole marriage thing didn't happen, or is this simply the plan?  I could honestly answer that this is simply the plan.  Yes, I have been candid by saying that a romance-free life is lonely.  But, I will be a mother with or without it, in some fashion or another.  And, even if I do meet someone, my plans will not change.  Because honestly, my child is my priority.  I love this child so much now; I can't even imagine what will happen when we finally get to meet.  Any man worth having will support my decision and accept my child, because from this point forward, we are a package deal.

I know that many women move forward with a known donor.  I did consider this at one point.  I decided against it for the same reasons I decided not to wait and see if a husband/partner became part of the picture.  There is a lot of legal grey area involved, no matter how solid of a contract is drawn up.  Is it fair to anyone involved to be forced to deviate from the level of involvement or responsibility that was initially agreed upon because a judge says so?  Aside from all that, the desires of either parent or the child can change at any point, and those wishes may not match up with the other parties'.  Basically, I feel that, for me, using a known donor is like having a child in a relationship.  It carries the same set of challenges, which I have opted to avoid.

In the past several months, I have been privileged to hear the stories of many women who have traveled the same path.  Every one of us has gone about it in a unique way.  These are my reasons, and they may or may not mirror another woman's.  But that doesn't mean that their reasons or decisions are any less valid than mine.  If anyone has anything to add, please feel free to do so, either by commenting below or sending me a message.

Have an amazing night, and enjoy the spring weather that we have all been waiting so patiently for!


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