skip to Main Content

Episode #28: We Need a New Name for *Single Parents*

We need a new name for *single parents* – like me! A single parent BY CHOICE. I hear both women and men all the time – real life people in person or even on social media AND fictional characters in movies and on TV talk about being single parents. They talk about being single parents, but they almost always – almost EVERY single time – are divorced or otherwise BROKEN UP from the person they created the child or children with. So, one of the biggest differences between being a single parent BY CHOICE and a DIVORCED or OTHERWISE BROKEN UP and now QUOTE UNQUOTE single parent, is that whether or not the child or children were PLANNED or a SURPRISE, the parents were usually TOGETHER when they created the child or children. They were usually TOGETHER when they created the child or children with PROBABLY – most likely – the IDEA or PLAN that they would stay together and raise their child or children together. And even in the case of the surprise pregnancy or unmarried or otherwise uncommitted parents, many couples will often give it a shot becoming a family for the sake of the child or children, or the parents may realize that THEY – the two of them – don’t belong together, but they may agree to raise the child or children in separate households with some sort of custody arrangement and back and forth between parental households for the child or children. So, the COUPLES who created a child or children while in some kind of relationship, even AFTER divorce or otherwise break-up or decision NOT to STAY together, they CO-RAISE the children. Meaning they may share all the EXPENSES of the child or children and the UPBRINGING of the child or children. And a single parent BY CHOICE – um, I’m pretty sure is usually only a single MOTHER by choice – does NOT co-raise the child or children with anyone, meaning, she – or I – do not share any EXPENSES or the UPBRINGING of the child with ANYONE. That means I truly am a SINGLE PARENT in the way that a DIVORCED or OTHERWISE BROKEN-UP parent is NOT. I get it that some divorced or broken-up parents might be BITTER because the OTHER parent doesn’t pull his or her weight. I get it that some divorced or otherwise broken up parents might carry more of a FINANCIAL burden than their former partner, that they might have the child or children with them more of the time, therefore, having more responsibilities to RAISE the child or children. I get it and I would probably find ANY kind of IMBALANCE in parenting responsibilities very frustrating, even MADDENING. But that still doesn’t make a single parent by DIVORCE of BREAK-UP SINGLE PARENTS in my mind. It makes them DIVORCED or BROKEN-UP parents who are CO-RAISING their child or children. So, maybe THEY – these OTHER kind of single parents than I am are quote unquote “single parents, NOT by choice” and I am a “single parent BY CHOICE.” But these are mouthfuls and it makes the “single parents NOT by choice” sound like VICTIMS. And maybe some of them ARE VICTIMS. Maybe some of the single parents NOT by choice were ABANDONED. Maybe they were cheated on and lied to and left to fend for themselves and their child or children after a PLANNED or a SURPRISE pregnancy. I don’t know. I DO know that this bothers ME to be lumped into a broad bucket of single parents. Single parents BY CHOICE – and I don’t think there are all too many of us around the world – and single parents NOT by choice. And when you lump single parents of BOTH kinds into ONE category, it makes me NOT feel unique or BOLD or AUDACIOUS or FREE. Until I get the chance to EXPLAIN to someone that my PLAN all along in creating my daughter with a KNOWN DONOR was to BE a SINGLE PARENT BY CHOICE. To BE UNIQUE and BOLD and AUDACIOUS and FREE. So when people go so far as to say to me, “I am” or “I was a single mom like you!” And then I discover after some more detail that they were in FACT a single parent NOT by choice, having DIVORCED or BROKEN-UP with the co-parent and usually what they MEAN is that they IDENTIFY with my being a single parent – even though not by DESIGN – because they carried ALL or at least MORE of the parenting responsibilities than their co-parent. I know I should be FLATTERED by people wanting to IDENTIFY with me – that’s an HONOR, really, but AGAIN, it takes away from my UNIQUENESS. I don’t WANT to be like anyone else. I do NOT want to be CONVENTIONAL. The word geek in me is at it again, looking up DEFINITIONS. CONVENTIONAL means “based on or in accordance with what is generally done or believed”. Oh, HELL NO. And similar words to CONVENTIONAL are “normal”, “standard”, “regular”. Yeah FUCK no. I’ll take UNCONVENTIONAL and another OPPOSITE of CONVENTIONAL: “original”. Yeah, I’ll fucking take ORIGINAL. Yeah, the O.G. Other SIMILAR words to CONVENTIONAL are: “ORDINARY, USUAL, TRADITIONAL, TYPICAL, COMMON, GARDEN VARIETY, RUN-OF-THE-MILL, PEDESTRIAN, COMMONPLACE, UNIMAGINATIVE, UNINSPIRED, UNADVENTUROUS, UNREMARKABLE. And the list goes on. JESUS. No WONDER I have such an aversion to being lumped into a category of parents that could be mistaken for CONVENTIONAL! I now feel JUSTIFIED in my REACTION – my FEELINGS, my NEED for another word altogether for single parents LIKE ME. To simply say single parents BY CHOICE vs. single parents NOT by choice doesn’t separate me out enough from the others. ANd not that single parents NOT by choice aren’t WONDERFUL, LOVING, HARD-WORKING parents because they ARE, but we’re really NOT the same in my mind. And it’s that word SINGLE that bothers me when it comes to relationship status, as I’ve talked about in at LEAST one other Audacious Freedom episode. SINGLE meaning UNMARRIED, NOT PARTNERED and implying that a single person is AVAILABLE and LOOKING to CHANGE their relationship status. I am a SINGLE MOTHER BY CHOICE AND A SELF-PARTNERED person whose life is complete WITHOUT a partner and I’m NOT – DECIDEDLY NOT – looking to change my relationship status. And I often think that the single parents NOT by choice, that THESE single parents, are the kind of people who LIKE to be TETHERED to someone, who LIKE to be in a relationship. Which might be – MUST be – why they had a PLANNED or UNPLANNED child or children – WITH a partner, even though they aren’t together any more. So MAYBE in the PARENTING world, we could look to the LGBTQ+ community for INSPIRATION to create a NEW language for people to identify as parents. In the LGBTQ+ community – for which I am a HUGE ally and advocate, people can identify as LGBT, meaning lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, the LGBTQ+ referring to anyone who is non-heterosecual or non-cisgender, instead of exclusively to people wh are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender to recognize this INCLUSION, the popular variant, LGBTQ, adds the letter Q for those who identify as queer or questioning their sexual or gender identity. Those who add INTERSEX people to the LGBTQ groups or organizing may use the extended LGBTQI and other common variants exist like LGBTQIA+ with the A standing for ASEXUAL, AROMANTIC or AGENDER. Wow. How FORTUNATE, how fucking FORTUNATE for people – adults AND kids alike these days in the LGBTQIA+ community to not have to fit into a couple of BINARY LABELS like MALE or FEMALE or in the parenting community being a single parent BY CHOICE or a single parent NOT by choice. Or in the relationship community as a MARRIED person or a SINGLE person. Because we are NOT binary as human beings. We aren’t black and white. We are in color. Human beings are living lives in FUCKING color in any category: we are NOT just HETEROSEXUAL or NON-HETEROSEXUAL or CISGENDER or NON-CISGENDER. We are not just parenting ALONE BY CHOICE or NOT BY CHOICE. We are NOT just in a relationship or single. And I. I AM SELF-PARTNERED and a single mother by choice. And I happen to have always identified as heterosexual and cisgender, but maybe only because that’s all I have ever known or thought. I mean I know there are many options, but I don’t think about any of that really. Because not only am I self-partnered, I don’t choose to go on any kind of dates with anyone or to have any friends with benefits either. I’m good seeing a few close friends here and there, and spending time with my daughter. That’s about it. I’m good and happy and free. And don’t be so quick to have me all figured out either. As open as I am in these podcast episodes and as much as I am exploring and reflecting on my life, I DON’T want to be put into any kind of BOX, to be labeled as any ONE Or any SEVERAL things. I’m still figuring it all out and somehow I am like many other people you know and yet UNLIKE ANYONE ELSE you’ve EVER known. Thank you for being on this journey with me.

Back To Top