Momming It Solo

Wow, we’ve been loving your enthusiastic response to episode #64 last month, about LST producer Joanna’s ambivalence toward motherhood. The comments on that post have been reminding us that there are a ton of different ways to realize you want to be a parent—or that you’d rather not, thank you very much.

In today’s episode, we talk to a woman who always knew she wanted to be a mom. But the way she got there was not at all how she’d expected. Tune in to hear her roundabout route toward jumping into motherhood without a partner.

And if you’re interested in learning more about momming it solo from the start, check out Single Mothers by Choice.

How have YOU figured out you wanted to be a parent? Or not?
Please keep these comments coming. They’re super helpful for people who are on the fence. On-the-fencers, we wanna hear from you, too!

25 thoughts on “EPISODE #66: Momming It Solo

  1. I related to this story so deeply. I always wanted to be married and have a family. At 27 I had an abortion which was the scariest, saddest thing I have ever experienced. I was religious and dating a very religious man that said mean, manipulative things to me and I, believed him. Shame on me. Fast forward to 12 years and I am now a “step mom” to my boyfriend’s daughter. I never thought I would be a step parent. I love it, the feeing of being a parent to a child that is wonderful. And it showed me I still long to have a child of my own. At 39, I am feeling its literally now or never and I need to make a decision. Now that I know what parenting involves, the idea of doing it by myself is extremely scary to me. I am encouraged by everyone’s comments though.

  2. I decided that I wanted to get pregnant after I was sexually assaulted. Weird. But I had this body thing where I didn’t feel like my body was all mine anymore, like the outside world had more control than I did. I wanted to do this thing with my body that would be personal and unsexy.

    I was working as a stripper at the time and living in a squat so there were a lot going on. After I was assaulted, I talked to a housemate about my wanting to be pregnant. She was a stripper too, but more of a performance artist type, and she told me that what I needed to do was to become a prostitute. She said, “What?! Do you want to be in prison? That is what having kids is like, being in prison.” Having sex for money was one way that she felt autonomy over her body, not to mention how she made most of her money. So there it was. In my traumatized, 22 year old brain I had two choices. Become a call girl, or get knocked up.

    Truth is, that growing up I had no interest in being a mom up until that point. I believed that whole having-kids-is-throwing-your-life-away crap that teachers, and well meaning adults used to tell smart girls. And just when I was beginning to think that getting pregnant and having a child was going to, if not save my life, maybe just make me feel human again….I’m told being a mother is like prison. Having had a miserable mom and not wanting to be one, I decided to go the call girl route.

    About two years later, after working as an escort on and off, I did get pregnant. By accident. My boyfriend at the time was not into it. Really not into it. It was at that time that I decided I wanted to have a baby. However, fear took hold and I had an abortion that I cried through.

    But here I am. Becoming a prostitute to reclaim my body from rape and then deciding to have a baby to reclaim my body from being a prostitute.

    About a year later I got pregnant again by accident. Both times I was on the pill. Granted, I often forgot to take it and I gobbled St John’s Wart …but I was still surprised. And very, very happy. And still with the boyfriend that was not into it.

    My pregnancy was crazy. Too long a story for a post. But off the wall crazy. But I knew that I was going to do it all alone and I was cool with that.

    Yes, getting pregnant as a single mom before I got to finish my degree seemed reckless and maybe it was. And the road was tough. Maybe I did it for all the wrong reasons But I did it. I’m still doing it. I’m good at it. And its awesome.

  3. First thank you for this podcast series which I have heard countless new moms rave about!!

    I did not love this particular episode however which cast some negative light on becoming a single mother, making it seem like only a last resort option made by women who are not so emotionally mature. I am a single mom to be through adoption. If all goes as planned, I will have a newborn this December. In the past few years I have gotten to know many women who have chosen to become single moms. For them it has not been a default or second best option but a choice to parent this way – as good as any other way to be a parent. These women are not flakey. They are smart and capable and emotionally together! Clearly being a single mom certainly has its challenges (as does any way to be a mom in our society)! But it also has many benefits. The special relationship a single mom has with their child. Parenting without the challenges of negotiating with a co-parent. Having room to form lots of relationships and build a lot of support and community for mom and baby. I have seen many partnered women be much more isolated in their nuclear unit than the single moms I know. I’d love to hear the stories of some of these women on your show!

    Thanks again so much!

    1. Shira, thanks for your comment. I’d love to feature more single moms on the show. Please send any ideas my way via the contact form on this website. That said, I like to think of this story as complex rather than negative, and I know Elizabeth would agree that single momdom is as good as any way. And she is certainly not flakey! She gave this decision lots of hard thought, which I hope came across in her interview.

    2. I find your comment about “many partnered women [are] much more isolated in their nuclear unit than the single moms I know” to be very interesting, and I am finding that experience to be true for myself.

      I waited until I was 33 years old to get married because I wanted to travel and have lots of life experience – and I did NOT want to get divorced. It was so important to me to find someone who had the same values and life goals as I did. Ironically, I was both divorced and a single mom just three years after I was married. It was such a shocker – and my daughter was 18 months old when my husband moved out.

      Now, after more than three years of single mothering, I am in a wonderful relationship with a man and we have blended our families – living under the same roof. The irony is that while I have more regular companionship and love (and I am certainly not complaining about that!) I have lost my sense of community AND autonomy.

      As a single mom, Analiese and I could go where we wanted, when we wanted. I had time to go to the park almost every day, friends invited us to dinner on the weekends, we had people over, etc. But now that we are in a more nuclear family – there are so many other “things” going on and the chore/cooking/errand list is so much longer, that I feel much more isolated. Then of course there is the fact that you have to take everyone’s needs into consideration before you can do anything or go anywhere. This loss of community and independence is something I didn’t fully anticipate.

      There’s no doubt that some of the physical aspects of mothering are much harder than as a single mom (assuming the mothers with a partner have one who helps with that, I have seen friends with husbands who did very little in that department… ) but there are some definite freedoms as well.

      OH! I know one of the things I miss most – – ME TIME. Believe it or not, I had way more time to myself as a single mom…even when A was a baby. That sounds crazy but it’s true. At the end of the day, when I put A to bed, or when she was napping on weekends, or if my mom had her for a day – I got uninterrupted time to myself – reading, Netfixing, hiking, etc. Now, there is always somebody – or multiple somebodies – around and I don’t get that time anymore. I miss that too.

      It’s sort of funny, some of the “luxuries” single motherhood allowed me that I didn’t even know I was taking for granted.

      I love The Longest Shortest Time. It’s a fabulous podcast and parenting blog and I can’t wait until you are back!

  4. Hey Hilary and Gang,

    Maybe THAT should be fodder for an interesting podcast. I in NO WAY want to make it seem or sound like single motherhood is easy. However, now that I’ve experienced parenthood both ways – single and partnered – there is a lot to be said about the freedom, independence and even “down time” that comes with single parenting (because you aren’t having to meet the needs of another adult, on top of the kid(s)) that people don’t think about. I.E. Maybe Single Motherhood Isn’t as Bad as It’s Made Out to Be. OR “Moms Missing Single Mom Status: Who Knew?” would be a good topic for a show.

    1. I agree! I know a bunch of single moms (many who decided to do it that way) who have such good experiences (with all the challenges as well of being a parent in our current society). Warmly, Shira

  5. This is a great story. I never thought I’d be a mom until I turned 37 and felt this incredible urge to nest. I was dating someone at the time but he didn’t want to have any more children (he had 1.5 kids – long story). Our relationship didn’t work and though I tried to date again, I wasn’t having any luck.. Yet the urge to be a mom stayed with me and grew stronger. And so two years later, I decided to become a single mom via IUI. Every day is a blessing – even the hard ones – because my son makes me a better person. He teaches me something every day and though I’m constantly feeling like I’m catching up to him because he’s growing so fast, I savor every moment.

  6. I listened to your podcast #66, Momming it Solo, with interest because I’m a deliberately sole parent, too. I thought it represented her story well, but I wish you had picked a representative of sole parenthood whose choice was not one of last resort, but one of first choice. From the time I started to picture myself as a parent, I never imagined that it would be in a 2 parent household, or with 2 parent responsibilities. To me, it’s just as natural as I guess most women think parenting in a couple is. The overwhelming difference between me (and other sole parents like me) and most other parents is one of expectation – I have never had any expectation that anyone else would change a diaper, prep a bottle, wake up in the night, stay home with a sick kid, or come running every time I’m called.
    I dislike two things that I hear frequently: 1) parents who complain about being a single parent when there is another live human being who is also a parent and shares responsibility, and 2) partnered parents who exclaim over how hard it must be to parent solo. They never consider how easy it is for me to never have to consult anyone else about the smallest or biggest decisions, I never have to care what anyone else thinks about my parenting, housekeeping, or general life plan, and I never have to worry that my child-raising vision would crumble if another parent decided to leave.
    I draw a distinction between single parents and sole parents. To me, a single parent is the same as a single person, one who is not currently in a romantic partnership or married. This says nothing about their parenting roles. A sole parent is one who shares no parenting duties, roles or responsibilities with another person. I am a sole parent. Sheryl Sandberg is a sole parent after the death of her husband. There are thousands of biological and adoptive sole parents in the US. Parents with shared custody of children are not sole parents. I draw the distinction because I have very little in common with single parents who are often preoccupied with custody disputes, child support, and pick up and drop off schedules, not to mention the emotional difficulty of co-parenting with someone that you dislike. I just can’t relate.
    I love how this podcast seeks to show the incredible diversity in parenting and families, but the vast majority of the stories featured are of two parent families, and the depiction of sole parents is considerably less diverse and I think far less favorable.

  7. Thanks for this episode. I wish it had been a little longer though, and talked about some of the advantages of single motherhood.

    I’m a single mom by choice as well. I was casually seeing someone when I became pregnant at 33. I kept the baby (now 3) knowing the father would not be involved and have only seen him once since she was conceived. I’m expecting a son in 11 weeks conceived with donor sperm through IUI (done at RE and at home with a friend!).

    Prince Charming wasn’t knocking on my door, and I have forever to wait for him, but not forever on the child bearing front.

    Like the subject of this episode it’s hard to imagine what it must be like to be coupled. Especially in those early, early days. I couldn’t imagine compromising with someone else though on parenting choices. The conversation about race choice was also appreciated since I’m white and my daughter is half black. In case you’re wondering, my son will be too, so not only will I be a smbc to two kiddos, they will both be biracial kids to a white mama.

    Maybe in the future we’ll find a man and look like a typical family, but for now I’ll enjoy the baby kicks and the accomplishment of building a nursery all by myself.

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