I’ve been a single mother for many years. Yet when asked, I define myself as a writer, a parent, a woman, a friend, an art advocate – and many other things. Make what you’d like of the sequence in that definition; but I claim my “single parenthood” fully.
I have great pride in what I’ve accomplished as a parent, and fond memories. But I would never say that I claim single parent status proudly, or fondly.
In a recent online discussion, women and men commented on their identities as single moms and dads, as well as the way remarriage or live-in partners change the equation, and change their sense of self. Or not.
Along with feeling “whole” as a single parent, I also made the following statement in the discussion:
Despite 18 years of raising children essentially alone (and 2 more years to go), while I cherish the privilege of being a mom, I do not hold on to my single parenthood “fondly.” I love my children; we have many joys we’ve shared together.
But I would have preferred a marriage that worked, and to have been part of a couple raising a family. That has nothing to do with embracing fully who I am, the result of what I have lived. But it is a definite belief that if possible, sharing parenting in partnership is better than going it solo.
Choices, knowledge, preferences
When I was 33, I knew women who were choosing single parenthood via sperm donors. I remember considering the option briefly (I was unattached), and dismissing it. Not for me.
Five years later, I was married with two sons, whom I’ve raised largely on my own. I wouldn’t have missed this joy for anything. But truth is, I would’ve given a great deal to have shared it with a loving partner in a working marriage.
How do you really feel?
In making that statement, I am acknowledging the profound costs – personal, professional, financial, physical, and emotional – involved in going it alone. My sons have paid a price as well, which I can only hope to have compensated for, at least in part. A cooperative ex-partner or extended family would’ve helped, which we didn’t have, but that’s not really the point. Every family has challenges.
I will add that I’ve known women (in particular) who genuinely prefer exercising all decision-making and control over child-rearing. I am not one who would’ve chosen that route.
So I’d like to know -
- Did you, or would you, choose to be a single parent?
- How do you feel – really – about parenting solo?
- How do you feel about the statement I made (quoted) above?