Single Minded Moms: The Women Who Are Choosing to Be Single Moms
By Melissa Chapman
She was the girl who played by all the rules; she always brushed her teeth before bed, pursued a secondary educational degree, never ever kissed on the first date, and was confident she would find true love. At 12 years old, she had her life all mapped out; married by 25 , three children by 34, a house in the burbs and of course, a doting hands-on partner in crime spouse. She never imagined, or even planned for the possibility that she might still be single and looking for Mr. Wonderful at –gasp-age 35!
She’s secured a career that any male colleague in a similar educational and economic bracket would covet and she’s set down roots in a fabulous neighborhood and purchased her own little piece of property. There’s just one small piece of the puzzle missing, a child with whom to share it with.
Fortunately the year is 2008 and the art of mothering is no longer reserved for women who are married or in long-term partnerships. So she makes the courageous decision, to be a single mother by choice, and join a fast growing group of women who after hearing their biological clocks ticking at an almost deafening pace decide they can become mothers without needing to shack up with Mr. Right Now in order to complete their family. She believes you can find true love at any age, but you can’t be a parent at any age. She believes she could live without many material things, but never without her children.
She ascribes to the philosophy of Single Mothers by Choice, an organization founded in 1981 with just eight women and 25 years later boasting a world-wide membership! The word “choice” in their title has two implications; they have made a serious and thoughtful decision to take on the responsibility of raising a child by themselves, and have chosen not to be in a relationship rather than be in one which does not seem satisfactory.”
She is Mikki Morrissette, Choice Mother of two. She is also the author of Choosing Single Motherhood: The Thinking Woman’s Guide and has her finger on the pulse of 700 Choice Moms who peruse her discussion board to share their insights, vent their frustrations, and to find a sense of community.
“I had gotten divorced at 31 and I just knew that fairytale, fall in love and have kids ending wasn’t going to happen to me,” says Morrissette. “At 33, I did meet a divorced father of one and seeing him with his son I knew that I wanted to have kids. Unfortunately, as soon as I divulged my desire too him, we broke up!”
At that point, comfortably ensconced in a well-paying career, Morrissette felt having children, even if it meant going it solo, was the next logical step for her. Yet despite feeling very confident about her decision, she did face some pretty tough detractors.
“While I was still in the debating stage, I told a pretty opinionated friend of mine that I was considering becoming a choice mom, to which he flat out told me what a completely selfish decision that would be on my part,” says Morrissette. “He then proceeded to explain to me, what I’ve now come to know as a very common response Choice Moms face, that every child should have a father and to purposely bring a child into the world without a father was very self- serving. Any choice mom can tell you that those of us who choose to go down this path, knowing that we are taking on this responsibility to raise a child; financially emotionally for at least 18 years- is in my opinion is anything but a selfish act.”
While there are many routes to becoming a choice mom, as the definition of what it means to be a family is ripe with infinite possibilities, Morrissette, felt artificial insemination was the best option for her. In the same no-nonsense fashion that she decided it high time to get down to the business of creating a family she enlisted the “sperm” of a good friend, and inseminated herself in the comfort of her home. The second time around, she used the same donor, but had a doctor handle all the details.
Morrissette and her donor have a unique relationship. She updates him every several months, with pictures of the kids and they even jointly get the kids presents for big occasions.
“For some people this wouldn’t work but for me it’s important because I grew up with a brother who was adopted and had issues about being rejected by birth parents he never knew,” says Morrissette.
“I never wanted my kids to feel rejected by the person who made up half their DNA. With our relationship, my kids have the option to call him” says Morrissette, who feels even further convicted in her open relationship with her kids’ donor since doing research for her latest series of books, Voices of Donor Conception: Behind Closed Doors. She has encountered many donor-conceived children who are struggling with feelings ranging from curiosity- to downright anger- that they can’t know about their donor’s history.
“I wanted to know as much as possible about the genetic history of my donor and that’s why I chose a good friend,” says Morrissette. “I also wanted him to be able to answer simple questions from my kids down the road. It’s been a real bonus for my daughter, who has just begun asking questions. In fact, when I mention that she has some physical trait in common with her donor she loves it. For kids, self-identity and knowing their biology is very important and I know her feelings will become even more pressing when she’s a teenager.”
But regardless of the path you choose in your journey towards Choice Single motherhood, whether it’s donor insemination or adoption, Morrissette has a few words of wisdom that to help you stay grounded, grateful and focused on the task at hand; enjoying this family you’ve created especially when you don’t have a partner to unload on.
Create a Support Network. “When you get pregnant, your single friends won’t hang around and hop bars with a baby in tow, so it is critical that you create a new support network for you and your baby,” says Morrissette. You can get very isolated as a single a parent and burnt out!
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