Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Would you choose to be a single mother? June 3, 2011

An article titled “Baby Without Marriage” caught my attention on BlogHer recently. [You can read it here, but be warned that it’s posted in the Pregnancy section of the site.] The author was asked by a friend, “If you don’t get married by a particular age, would you consider having children without a husband?”

The author had this to say:

“I have to admit, the thought has crossed my mind, but I’d never sat down and really thought about it. I’d never really imagined my life without kids. I guess I’d never really imagined it without a husband either, but I’d given children more of a consideration. But man, what would I do? Adoption, IVF, a good night with a good friend or ex, what? And at what age is my “out-of-wedlock” age? I’ll be 35 this year.”

She goes on to explain that she’s not ready for kids yet, but she’s aware that if she keeps putting it off, it’s eventually going to be too late.

I could really relate to her quandary, as I found myself in that same situation in my very early 30s. With no sign of a potential daddy in sight (Mr. Fab and I hadn’t figured out we were destined to be more than friends back then), I started to have the conversation with myself about whether I was prepared to be a single mom. As it turned out, Mr. Fab and I did find one another before I hit my “out-of-wedlock” age, only to discover, of course, that I was already past my expiration date. But I wonder; if things had been different, would I have made a go of it alone?

I’m older now, and supposedly wiser (or at least more tired), but trying to think as my younger self would have, I wonder if I would have had the courage to parent alone. I like to think that the sensible part of me would have realized that with no family within 6,000 miles, it would have been close to impossible, but as I watched my window of fertility close, I would have made the last-minute leap?

I know that some of you have weighed this decision and that some of you are still considering it. I’d love to hear your thoughts.


5 Responses to “Would you choose to be a single mother?”

  1. Kate B Says:

    Once upon a time, a college friend and I both said that if we were still unmarried at age 32, we would have children on our own. But then, I turned 32, no husband in site and didn’t follow through. I did think about it over the years. I decided at a certain point- can’t recall what age – that it would be selfish of me to go and have a child on my own just so that I could have a child. And that is not meant as a criticism of anyone who did make that decision. It is simply how I felt about myelf making that decision. And now, past my “best if used by date” there are many times I wish I had been selfish. The thing for me with that is – I don’t know how else such a decision would have changed my life. The one thing I can say for certain is that I do not wish to go back and change anything that would have resulted in me not meeting my husband and marrying him. If that means there was nothing I could ever have done to change my childless state – then so be it.

  2. Kathryn Says:

    I have not made good choices in my younger life.

    I didn’t have much self esteem (still struggle with that) and i can see i could have been an unwed teenage mama had my life gone a little differently. Then i married a man who couldn’t give me children, and that toxic relationship lasted thru my 20s. I returned to college and had a number of good friends, but my choices in my ability to support myself were poor.

    If things had gone a bit differently, if i had had a better career and felt more stable, i might have considered it, tho i might have adopted.

    Mr. Wonderful and i didn’t meet until i was 41. We have a wonderful marriage and 3 miscarriages behind us. Sometimes i wistfully wish i had had children when i was able, but those thoughts are fleeting. (It is weird for me to realize had i been a teen mama that i would have children the age of my hubby’s brother and step brother. That makes me feel OLD!)

    • Anon Says:

      Your post hit a nerve for me. I, too, often feel my choices were poor in my younger days. But I fight against the next thought, that being childless now is the logical consequence (i.e., punishment!) for such poor choices. I had an abortion as a teenager, and unlike many teens, I grieved it very deeply. I knew if I had the child I would not be able to give it up for adoption, and I also knew I would be a terrible mother at that age. Like you, I had a relationship in my 20’s that was toxic, and I was terrified of having kids with that person and still felt I would be a horrible mother, so I was very careful not to conceive. After I finally ended that relationship, I considered having a child on my own. But the self-loathing I still felt made me feel too unsure, too unstable. By the time I had a stable, loving relationship and had spent enough time with nieces and nephews to realize I would be a great mom, I was 36. Today I’m 42 and my husband and I have only just decided to stop trying to conceive this month. So I just want to say to you, you’re not the only one with regret about past choices. I am working very hard to let go of the regret and self-recrimination, because it does so much harm to see oneself that way.

  3. Mali Says:

    I could barely decide I wanted kids after many years of marriage. That makes me almost 100% sure that I wouldn’t have decided to have kids as a single mother.

  4. Elena Says:

    I really had to consider after separating from my Ex after 4 years TTC and a 10 year committed relationship, at age 39. I consider myself a feminist and have many friends who basically think like me. There are even one or two lesbian couples in my acquaintance who are happily married/parents. But i was really hurt by suggestions such as “why do you make yourself dependend on a man to have a baby?” (well- it takes a women AND a man to make one, even if they are donors/substitutes, doesn’t it?) , “why don’t you just go to the sperm bank?” (because, honey, 1. it’s illegal in our country for doctors to inseminate a single women”, 2. one doesn’t “just” go to the sperm bank – it means months and months of the rollercoaster i’ve only just been through again), “oh well then find a private donor, why not?” and so on.
    I had to find out WHY it hurt and wasn’t helpful.
    That meant i had to explore what my wish for a child was actually made up of. And that has helped me a lot to live through my grief.
    1. I yearn for a child because i want to have a FAMILY. Not a pedagogical project. Maybe my view of family life is distorted, that’s possible, but i have to work it through first before i become a single mum.
    2. I dreamed of a child as a product of love (and yes. physical attraction). Between me and my man. Hey, remember: Having sex means you can get pregnant. The two facts aren’t so totally separated as some people seem to think nowadays.
    3. i admit it: I don’t want to do all the work a child means on my own. It IS hard work, and it means having less time to earn money and have fun, and i never meant to do this on my own. I wanted to share the work and the responsibility.
    4. I want my child to know his/her father. To have an identity, to know where he/she is coming from. To grow up with a woman and a man.
    5. oh here were the friends saying: “well get the baby first you’ll find a partner later”. I mean hello. Did they consider for one minutes how it must feel to be a single mum – and dating??? I find the prospect of “looking” for a partner hard enough without being a single mum.

    It really didn’t take me that long to find out: No, being a single mum – becoming a single mum, deliberately – is not what i want.

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