I Want To Be My Kid’s Only Parent
I crave the closeness of single motherhood—without the complications a husband can bring.
It isn’t conventional wisdom, but in many ways it seems easier to raise a kid alone. Being a single parent by choice would mean not having to deal with another person's sets of demands or expectations of what child-rearing means. I wouldn’t burden a child with the emotional baggage of divorce or the highs and lows of an unhappy relationship. It would just be the two of us and a supporting cast of extended family.
I believe that there must be a small demographic like me: people who would choose to be single parents not because their biological clock is ticking and they can’t find a partner, or because birth control failed, but because they simply want to raise a child alone. (I say this not as only as a woman. I’ve also known men who’ve raised their children alone quite happily.)
Perhaps all of this sounds selfish to some people, but there is no conclusive evidence that I would be giving a child any less possibility for success than a kid with two parents, as long as I am mature and have the financial means. Much of the research that supports having children within marriage is about opportunity, not the physical presence of two parents.
The problems that single mothers face in the Times story would not be mine. I wouldn’t suddenly find myself pregnant. I would plan. Because of my career, I would be able to work from home. I’d be able to provide a child with a stable life, surrounding myself with a strong support network. My mother’s career as a teacher was ideal for our situation because her hours roughly matched my own time spent at school. For other women whose jobs require late hours in the office or do not provide enough income, or who live far from reliable family and friends, single parenthood may not be a viable choice.
There are other complications, of course. I would want to make sure that my kids were raised with strong male role models, something I lacked growing up. There is also the issue of my personal life. Throughout much of my childhood my mother dated a man who was much older than her with grown kids of his own. He had a relationship with me, but it did not come with the disciplinary privileges (or burdens) of a parent, and we never lived with him.
It might not be realistic to forever banish the idea of a serious long-term partner. I mean, things happen, people meet and fall in love. While I don’t need to have a partner to raise a child, as a person outside of motherhood I may want a serious romantic relationship at some point, and in doing so I would have to open up the relationship to include my child.
I guess I believe that when I have a kid, my love for him or her will eclipse the love I’ve felt for men and that choosing between the two would never be an issue. I could have men in my life on the periphery, but I would place my child securely in the center.
Jessica Olien is a writer and illustrator living in Portland, Ore. You can follow her on Twitter at @jessicaolien.