Monday, August 17, 2009

My Single Mommy identity crisis.

This, I guess, is a response to you Tara! Since you were the only one to comment on my question.:) thanks...


The reason I asked this question about perception of Single Moms by Choice is because I'm not sure where I fit in.

From the day I realized that I would be making this journey alone, I've been seeking a community of other women or men in the same boat.

But I found that calling myself a 'single mom' did not direct to me to other women in my boat; It got me into boats, but they weren't the same.

First I found myself grouped with teen moms.
I was prioritized for the Mother Goose program, a program aimed at promoting literacy and connection between parents and children. I didn't realize why I was prioritized for this. It's an awesome class and it was great not to waitlist like everyone else but it felt wrong. I wasn't sure why I was getting this priority and I was embarrased to share it with my other mommy friends.

Also,as a result of a phone interview regarding a spot for daycare, I was slotted into a young mothers program, which cost less but meant I needed to attend classes on parenting.
I didn't know I had been slotted this way until I showed up the first day and, I admit, I was a little offended.
I know the administrator was just trying to do her job and this program seems like a great opportunity for young mothers. However, I was a 36 year old university educated, working, middle class mom. That was not the right place for me.

The next boat I was directed towards was the divorced mommy boat. During my maternity year, I was referred to a single mothers support group that I attended -once.
The group was supposed to have had daycare. So I wrapped my three month old bundle of collicky joy up one morning and headed to this group. I was hopeful that day.
But the daycare was filled with children over 5 and they told me they couldn't watch anyone under three.
Also, the group (of great gals) was 100 percent divorced moms with husbands to disect and school age children to discipline.
Incidentally they also gave away free bread at this group.
Hmmmm. I didn't fit there either.

So then I decided that I must be called a Single Mom by Choice.

I looked online to find:

This must be me, I thought.

"A single mother by choice is a woman who decided to have or adopt a child, knowing she would be her child's sole parent, at least at the outset"

But since referring to myself as a Single Mom by Choice, I have found that many people assume that I intended to conceive. Some people think I've received fertility assistance and some people actually believe that I "trapped" some poor innocent fella so that I could have a baby. By the way, I don't believe this EVER happens. I think it's just another way to blame women.

So, Tara,
I asked the question to see if I was using the right "label" for myself.
Based on your response, the label suits the contents. Your assumption was fairly close:
"Well, here's what I would assume, based on how I feel about being a single mom by choice. If you're like me, you were in a relationship that was toxic..."( Tara ).

My circumstances are/were this:
I was in a very short relationship that wasn't going to work. I became pregnant. I told him. He freaked out and wanted no part of it.
I thought about it and concluded that I was presented with a miraculous opportunity to raise another human and I wasn't going to turn this miracle away just because I wasn't married. I am JUST AS CAPABLE as a married woman to raise a child. I will just have a different challenges.

This is my Single Mommy identity:

I am Single
I am raising a child alone.
I chose to do that.
I did not choose to become pregnant.
I am not young and naive
I was not ever married
I do not have a biological father to contend with
I struggle financially
I am not POOR.
I work.
I study

So did anybody else out there have a single mommy identity crisis?


Melanie said...

I wouldn't say that I have a single mom identity crisis - I don't really feel a need to label myself I suppose. But it does help other people, perhaps, to know where to slot me. For the most part I just let those who I wish know that I'm a single mother, and that the father is completely uninvolved. If the situation warrants it, I'll include such identifiers as I work full-time, Cameron goes to daycare, I was never married, I chose to end a very unhappy relationship and he chose to disappear.

Oh - and I was fast-tracked into Mother Goose too, an opportunity I jumped at as I knew that to fight depression I needed social interaction. At one point I was referred into "blocks" or something like that, can't recall the name, but it was for people who are having difficulties parenting, period. I declined, saying that I was sure there were people who needed that support more than I did.

Tara said...

I would say, based on your description today that you totally fit into Single Mom By choice. I will say though, I don't understand all of these programs and such that you were put in. Maybe we don't have that kind of stuff in Ohio.... I like your list you call your identity. It pretty much hits the nail right on the head!

solemom said...

I have struggled with this as well over the last year and a bit, since my son was born.

I call myself a sole parent, or sole mother, because I find that a lot of people hear 'single parent' as someone who has their kid 24/7, but only for a portion of their life (often 50%) - i.e. shared custody situations. I have my son 24/7/365, and his bio-father has never even seen him, much less taken care of him.

So - my first label is 'sole' parent.

Beyond that, I found that I didn't really fit in anywhere either. I'm sort of a sole parent by choice (since I decided not to terminate when bio-dad suggested it), but like you I didn't intend on getting pregnant. I don't fit into the young mom groups, being in my mid-30s, and I've never been married. I had been in a relationship with bio-dad for a few years when I got pregnant, so I can't even really relate to the people I've met who weren't in long term relationships with their baby daddies.

Anyhow - I just wanted to demonstrate that while we'd all love to fit everyone into neat little categories - very few of us actually do fit! You're not alone in that, certainly.

Erin said...

Hey Gals,
Thanks for the feedback on this. I hear y'all when you back away fromt he label thing. I really only used that as a way to tie my post together...
The conclusion I've come to from these three comments, my post and another post by @momartuflly is that single moms by choice ( or sole parents etc. ) appears to be an emerging group of mothers who, as @momartfully suggested, are somewhat underrepresented. I mean, everyone knows we are here but does everyone actually realize how many of us there are?
We have different needs and we need to be heard. ya know?
I'm not complaining here, just noting this gap.

Heather said...

Wow, VERY interesting post! Being only 11 1/2 weeks pregnant, I have no idea what awaits me, and I'll be curious as to whether I'll be pigeon-holed into those groups as well. I'd say that my list is identical to yours except for the fact that I chose to become pregnant on my own, was never in a relationship with the donor, and did receive fertility assistance. I'm not sure how I feel about being "categorized", to be honest.

Lisa Maria Carroll said...

Welcome to the club of single moms having an identity crisis, and feeling lost in the system because we're educated, middle class, and not poor or on welfare. I write for WeParent, and the founder wrote an essay, Shacking is Not Marriage…and I Am Not Divorced, that I invite you to check out. She has other essays on there too that you may find enlightening.

Single Mom Survives said...

I can tell you where you fit perfectly... it's in the category of "awesome".

Julie said...

I have 2 children (ages 10&13) and have been divorced for 2 years. I stilli haven't found which group i belong in. The young mothers group doesn't apply to me because i'm 38 . Struggling Single mothers doesn't really applly to me either since i'm not poor, just on a tight financial budget. Obviously i don't fit in with the Madame Mommies r because i don't receive a hefty alimony check from my ex. Married mommies don't want me around because they're insecure with their own marriages and the single mommies are usually in their twenties, so obviously i'm not very welcome either. So where do i fit in???

Tara said...

You fit right in with the rest of us......

Rhonda said...

Hey.... I was google searching and found you... I think we are kind of in the same boat. I do have awesome parents that live sort of close by and that is just amazing and helpful... but like you, I got pregnant and made the decision then to be a single mom, b/c I was older, educated and knew I could do it. So, if you ever want to share life experiences... shoot me an email- Nice work here... we need more people who are so open and honest.