Nataly drew my attention to an intriguing article last night, about women who have made the decision to have children solo.
It seems like it’s a bit of a trend: 30-something, successful and independent women who have everything: a home, a stable career, a joie de vivre and a need to share it. They have everything, that is, except a man and a child. And they’re increasingly deciding that they don’t need the man to have the child.
I read the article with great interest: I have several friends in their early thirties who are navigating this perplexing road now. They are still young but experienced in dating, jaded enough to know that their chances of finding Mr. Right are diminishing daily. Their bodies are still young enough to conceive fairly easily, but there’s not that much time. It’s a critical, life-altering decision. Should they make the decision to bear and raise a child alone? It’s a question with a very personal answer. But — and this may get me in trouble — if I were asked my opinion, as a woman raising a child solo, I would say: don’t do it.
It’s a simple synopsis of an anything-but-simple circumstance. I would not trade my son for anything. I cannot imagine my mornings without his sweet, warbling voice, without seeing his enthusiasm for slugs, rain, and the star-studded sky. I can’t remember what my heart felt like before it was punctured and blown up with this all-consuming, tender, raw brand of love. I can’t properly answer the question: would I do it again, knowing I’d be a single Mom? Because, I know my son now, and knowing him takes away the ability to answer the question objectively. Of course I would not trade him for the world. I don’t know what I’d do without him, I don’t know who I’d be. What I do know: raising a child as a Single Mother is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
I’ve been single since Nolan was barely one year old, he is now just past three. A few weeks ago, my son had an accident in a mall restaurant, on the floor near the table where we were waiting for our pasta primavera. He had just finished a meltdown because I wouldn’t buy him a toy car, he had grime smeared on his shirt and had insisted on exiting the house in shorts, in the pelting rain. He was defiant at every turn, and the pee dribbling all over the floor in a restaurant, the kind sympathy-eyes of the patrons around me, somehow made me break down into heaving, shuddering sobs. I ushered him to the bathroom where I rinsed water on my face and solemnly regarded the face of a woman under stress.
A solo Mom has no choice but to work, full time, and often more than that to make ends meet. It brings guilt, and pressure — and there is no one at home to alleviate the stress with backrubs or an occasional dump run. There’s no time out, no one to offer to stay at home with the child when things are too much to bear. There is no one to take charge when I’m sick, or stressed, or just in over my head.
Unlike Moms who purposely have children without a Father figure present, my son has a Father who loves him, and this makes an enormous difference in his social life at school. At three, children are already discussing household structure, what family units mean.
“I do have a Daddy,”said my son one day last week when I picked him up,”He’s just not here.”
“Of course you have a Daddy,”I replied,”And he loves you so, so much.”
I felt a twinge of guilt, but I can’t even imagine explaining that no, you don’t have a Daddy,baby. It’s just you and me.”
This isn’t to say I don’t respect and admire the choice of women who do their research and knowingly take on the the overwhelming task of single Motherhood. But here is what I feel: A Mama needs to share the small moments of everyday, to share the soaring highs and crushing lows of life with a child, with someone who shares the knowledge. This Mom yearns for an occasional break, a handoff, someone to talk me down from the inevitable ledges of daily life with a pre-schooler. And, I feel like my child often feels the deep need for a second parent, to balance the quirks of the first, to provide a sounding board in lieu of an all-pervasive single opinion.
If I were single and childless, now at 33, knowing what I know without actually knowing the overwhelming joy of my son — I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t choose to raise a child alone.
What do you think? Would you?