Are Women Who Have Babies On Their Own Crazy?
I spent my formative years in a house of women. My parents split when I was five, and my mother and sister and I spent the next six years watching One Day at a Time and The Muppet Show together. It was the mid-'70s and I didn't realize at the time that we were ostracized; since then I have heard that some parents didn't want their kids to come over and play at our house because of the divorce.
Things have changed dramatically since then. Do we even bat an eye at a divorced couple anymore? Even same-sex couples carry little stigma in my neighbourhood. But is there one kind of family that we still judge - secretly or not?
Writer Kate Roiphe is a single mom to two children; her second child was born outside of marriage - a love child, so to speak. On Slate.com she wonders if our culture shames women who choose to have babies on their own. Ask yourself: do you think women who have babies on their own are crazy?
Roiphe says that the word crazy is one she hears often. She prefers the word romantic - as in single mothers are drawn to the “impractical in conception or plan” and is in thrall to the “heroic, adventurous, remote, mysterious, or idealized”, essentially they think outside of the box.
An article in Chatelaine suggests that the best word for single women making the choice is "adult". As these women are making the choices they are comfortable with.
It is true that women who choose to have babies on their own - and for the purposes of this article Roiphe is referring to women of privledge who have reached a certain age - are making the choice with a lot of knowledge and thought.
The submerged premise here is that there is something greedy, selfish, narcissistic, or anti-social about having a baby on your own. But is there? It seems to me that if anything a baby born in these conditions is extra-wanted. The fact that having that baby is not necessarily the obvious or predictable or easy thing to do at this particular juncture in life makes it all the more of a deep and consuming commitment.
But do I think they are crazy? I do a little. I just can't imagine doing it without a partner, someone to pick up the loose ends, and spell me off when I am feeling tired or stressed.
But I also respect them too. I'm not sure I would have been brave enough to have a child on my own and if I hadn't had a partner when my biological clock struck I would have been left always wondering and wanting.
So, yes to crazy. But parenting is crazy, choosing to have children at anytime is crazy. I would prefer that every child is born to a person who has done the research and figured out what it means to parent - whatever their family looks like.
What do you think of when you hear about a single woman having a child? Is crazy one of the first words that jump to your mind?
Want more chaos? Remember when the Parent TV Council was outraged over the sexy Glee cover of GQ? Yeah, me too.
Want to get some perspective on parenting? Read about a mother who parents knowing there aren't many tomorrows ahead of her.