I think I’ve touched on this briefly before but, for fairly obvious reasons (ie. I’m still single) it’s something I’ve been thinking about more and more – the idea of attempting to have a child on my own should a suitable candidate not present themselves (and before you get all antsy, and accuse me of “interviewing sperm donors” rather than “dating potential boyfriends”, chill the fuck out, it’s a turn of phrase) (sorry, I might be a bit touchy about this because of the douche that commented on my Stella piece “sounds like your potential partner got wind of the fact you saw him as semi autonomous self propelled sperm delivery system” which, for the record, is total bollocks. Anyway…) And, for various reasons, it’s a topic that seems to have been in the news a lot recently.
The Daily Mail had a story about three women who did exactly that and, unsurprisingly for a right wing newspaper that believes in conventional families, there was a fair amount of condemnation woven into the piece. But despite that, and maybe just because it suits my own agenda to see things this way, I found the individual women’s stories inspirational and encouraging.
There’s clearly something in the water – or the Zeitgeist or whatever – because just a few days before Stylist magazine had tweeted “Would you undertake motherhood solo? We want to hear from women who have, or are planning to have, children alone.” And, in one of those weird internet black holes that I seem to get caught in far too often (you SO know what I’m talking about – hell, it’s probably how you found yourself reading this in the first place – you look at a tweet, then the replies to it, and then click the link, and then get distracted by one of the stories beside it, or by googling one of the people mentioned in it, and before you know it, that’s 45 minutes of your life you’ll never get back) I came across a woman in the US called Rachel Lehman-Haupt who’d had a baby on her own and wrote this piece about it.
I really liked a lot of this piece. I liked that she enunciated many of my own concerns – not least that of being a sole carer. I know plenty of people who are single parents, but even though they’re not with the father, the father still has some parental responsibility and will take the children for a certain amount of the time – see below. You choose to do this on your own and you’re on your own. (I know, I KNOW, some people DO end up in the situation but choosing it, from the off, as I’ve said before, is a very different thing.)
There was some stuff that I totally didn’t get – moving from New York to a houseboat in the sticks? Never going to happen. Not least because my – hate the term, but you know what I mean – ‘urban family’ is pretty much based in London. All the people who I would rely on for emotional and practical support. So, sorry kiddo, even if it means you breathing polluted city air from day one, and growing up in a place that doesn’t have stairs, we’re going to be Londoners – it’s for my sanity, which can only be a good thing for you.
But while I’m, by nature, a bit – OK, a LOT – more cynical than Rachel, and so less likely to wax lyrical about the whole ‘my friends are my child’s babydaddy’ type thing. I do totally get that. I imagine / hope / (secularly) pray that the friends who have been awesome during the whole egg freezing thing would be just as awesome if I decided to go down this route. Frankly they’d have to be as I’m pretty sure my parents would, while being supportive, not be the type to volunteer to take Junior off my hands a couple of days a week.
But the bit that I really liked about this was this: “After seeing so many marriages with young children break up, I realized that while my child would not start out life with a social father, he would also not start out life with the strains of a broken family.” Amen to that. (Or whatever the secular version of that is. Hear hear, I suppose, which sounds rather pompous.) I know far too many parents “staying together for the kids” and far too many mothers who tell me “he was so lazy/busy with work/selfish that I might as well have been on my own” or “honestly, I’d far rather have done it on my own, at least you know where you stand from the start, at least you don’t expect anything from anyone else, at least you get to make the decisions entirely on your own etc etc”
And while I know these people are trying to encourage me, and trying to be nice, the fact is, to go back to that point above, as I’ve told them a few times, they didn’t do it on their own, and however useless and feckless and generally crap their other half was, they were at least there – if only fleetingly – to be whinged at, or to get excited about that first smile/laugh/whatever. And, in the cases where they’ve split, they’re still there to take the kids at weekends, or have a viewpoint on schools, or whatever. And while they might not always agree with each other, pretty much all of them agree that their children are the most important thing. The practicalities aside, I’m still not sure if it’s OK to deliberately deprive a child of half of the people for whom they are The Most Important Thing. I mean I’m good, but I’m not sure I’m good enough to be twice the person I already am…