People are just so darned mean to single mothers!
That's the lament of "intentional" single mom Katy Chatel in yesterday's Washington Post.
Because actually, Chatel writes, having just a mother instead of a mother and father is better for kids. Or as she puts it, "One parent can be better than two."
The reason: When you're married to the father of your child you have to pay attention to his stupid ideas about child-rearing instead of always getting your own way:
Single motherhood also eliminates the stress and complications that arise from incompatible parenting approaches and values in a two-parent home. Thinking of my friends and acquaintances with inadequate partners, I wonder why more people don’t choose single motherhood. Parenting alone allows me to make the best decisions for my son without needing to compromise for a partner’s differing personal beliefs, needs or career demands. I understand that this might sound like I’m a dictator needing total control, but that’s not my motivation. I want to have the freedom to always act in my son’s best interest. Because I’ve spent a lot of time preparing for motherhood, I can be very opinionated when it comes to where he should go to school, the type of health care he should receive and what kinds of values and beliefs are important in guiding our family.
Those pesky dads!
So Chatel knocked herself out to get knocked up in a way that would ensure that the dreaded "two-parent home" would never materialize for her son:
So when I became a single mom recently at age 31 — after a decade and a half of preparation and 11 cycles of trying to get pregnant (I used various methods: known-donor in-a-cup vaginal insemination, my own anonymous bank sperm, and intrauterine insemination with a midwife) — it was no accident. When people ask me “Where’s Jessey’s dad?” I often get perplexed, sympathetic or tight-lipped responses to the answer: He doesn’t have one. Those responses surprise me because loving families exist in so many different configurations and come about in so many different ways.
But it turns out that although Chatel might be going it alone raising 20-month-old Jessey, she's getting some help supporting him–from us taxpayers. The print version of her Post article includes this:
Because of my current low-wage job, I'm temporarily receiving state assistance to help offset the cost of day care as I search for a new position and gather freelance writing prospects.
It's all the fault, though, of "our culture":
But our culture tends to pity and shame single mothers. There’s an assumption that single motherhood results from women’s poor decisions and that parenting alone can’t possibly be a fit way to raise children. A 2011 Pew Research Center poll found that 61 percent of Americans believe a child needs both a mother and a father to grow up happily. Seven out of 10 think single women having children is bad for society.
So let's change the culture so that seven out of 10 people think single women having children is great for society!
One reason why Chatel may be having trouble making ends meet is that her main freelance writing career seems to consist of soley writing occasional op-eds for the Washington Post, which is not exactly known for its generosity to op-ed contributors.. The last one she wrote was a humdinger. Although a first-time mother at age 31, which is up in high-risk territory, Chatel decided to give birth in a tub in a room full of people, none of whom seemed to have any medical training:
“It’s the ring of fi-ire!” I hiss-growled through my teeth as I bore down for a push deep enough to turn my insides out. I knew I was in the most painful stage of birth, when the thickest part of my baby’s head was emerging. I heard a chorus of celebratory laughter and relieved moans around me, the same voices that had crooned and chanted through the last 16 hours of my labor. By this point, I was naked and exhausted, my legs splayed and hair matted to my forehead.
I had been falling asleep between contractions that were less than 30 seconds apart. When I opened my eyes, the gathering of people I had invited to watch me give birth for the first time was still packed into my living room. I didn’t want a hospital birth or medicine. Eventually, I didn’t want privacy, either. I had invited a dozen people to the birth party and most of them came, including my best guy friend from high school, my two younger sisters, and a collection of friends from various stages of my life. Two of them had hopped on planes from California and Las Vegas when my contractions got strong enough to keep me awake.
Being a single mom, I felt it was especially important for my son, Jessey, to enter the world surrounded by friends and family. I didn’t want to be alone in my pain, but more importantly, I wanted others to share the experience of his birth. I wanted a village around him. I wanted it to be a party.
Sixteen hours of labor and a party! She's lucky that she and Jessey are still alive.