- Note: Writing this piece was difficult because the nuance around single motherhood is so vast. I found it challenging to condense the results of my feelings, research, and observations to just 1000 words. Sex and The Single Mom will be a series of essay style writings that reflect on the different aspects of single motherhood. With that being said, I hope you enjoy this first piece. My personal perspective.
I was 21 when I officially became a single mother, and dating has been mostly a challenge for me. Dating in general comes with its own batch of frustrations, but young motherhood creates a unique system of adversities. Balancing my life, my daughter’s life, and finding a viable partnership that is not based on convincing someone you’re not a compilation of stereotypes can be downright exhausting.
I’ve made my fair number of missteps, rushed into one relationship, was too casual with another. Heartbreak sent me into a forced isolation which helped me see my marital and family goals with clarity. At 28, my mindset on dating has shifted. My daughter has a mother and a father who both love her dearly and contribute equally to her well-being. I’m not hindered by thoughts of needing validation, a ticking biological clock, or loneliness. I’ve often joked with my friends, that I will either get married and have more children, or stay single until 40 and date a divorcee with grown kids, who I can travel the world with. Companionship is less of a need for me, than a desire, but it’s a strong desire nonetheless. My story is unique, I have help and a strong village to support me, but that isn’t the story for every mother.
I’ve never seen myself as lacking anything. Regardless of the consensus on single motherhood. Stereotypes of poverty and desperation hover over single moms from all around the globe. In some nations, the stereotype rings true. The poverty rate for working single parent households in the U.S. is 32%. In comparison, Japan’s rate is 56% , in the U.K. 47% . Women on average are paid less than their male counterparts, so the evidence that single motherhood could cause financial hardship is most certainly there. Financial needs may drive women into the wrong relationships, keep them from dating outside of their socioeconomic status, or just flat out keep them single because the emotional and mental energy required to date, simply isn’t there.
Single mothers worry about a plethora of pitfalls. Child predators, insincere suitors, emotional IQ or lack thereof, and financial leeches. Since single mothers are often in a vulnerable position, there are many predatory personalities to be aware of. Having a carefree approach to dating and relationships is not a luxury most mothers can afford. Instead of viewing this perspective as a burden, I find it empowering. By knowing what you won’t accept, you have a clearer picture of what you will.
7 years of dating, relationships, and heartbreak has made me acutely aware of the effects my love life has on my daughter. I know that she is looking to me, to set the precedent for how a man should be allowed to treat her. While her interest in boys is still non-existent, I know that the day where they go from annoying to attractive is approaching quickly. Someone who does not serve my mental and emotional well-being, effectively challenges hers as well. A cost too lofty for me to pay for any man. My standards have increased with age and wisdom.
The checklist is long, but achievable and well deserved. I have placated men in the past, leveraging my own shortcomings with theirs. If I have this amount of baggage, they should be able to have theirs too. I carry my added weight with grace. I give my daughter what she needs, and when I need help, I call her father. We co-parent effectively. The idea that I should accept someone else’s baggage because I have my own has melted away. I don’t have baggage.
Mother, artist, entrepreneur, is my present reality. I am too busy for numerous “Wyd” text throughout the day, and too bored to pretend I don’t see the red flags of a man who is more invested in pussy than purpose. I can’t be available last minute. And sometimes I’ll “flake” last minute cause my child needs my attention more. Dating can be fun, and for the most part it is. Horror stories aside, assessing and examining suitors through the lens of single motherhood has helped me tremendously. I don’t waste time. I speak candidly, and while reciprocity is always wanted, spending time trying to convince someone to love me properly is an irresponsible use of my energy.
I still want to get married, and I would love to have more children. I genuinely enjoy being a mother, regardless of the circumstances. I take that responsibility very seriously. I can wait for the right partner to materialize, and if he never does, I can be content with that too. There is too much at stake in raising happy, whole children. My legacy is a living, breathing, 9-year-old, with a lot of confidence and plenty of sass. The partner that is best for me, will breathe life into me, and support me in being the best mother I can be right now. It will nurture my sanity and fertilize my goals. The evidence for what I bring to the table is apparent in the health of my child.
Single moms are not for the weak-hearted. There is an added layer of responsibility. There is a high level of patience, security, and self-esteem required. In exchange you’ll get a skillset that is unmatched by most. Supreme multitasker, expert financial planner, and a woman who can literally run a household with one hand. Single mothers are amazing. The world takes them for granted, but that has no merit on how we should view ourselves. Don’t settle for less than what you know you deserve, your babies are watching.