I often hear people refer to other single mothers I know as “crazy,” and I assume that they refer to me that way, too. ...She cannot free herself from the idea that it is crazy to be a single mom, and wrong to force her kids to grow up without a father. All that exquisite tolerance that her feminist background teaches her fails to reassure her.
Before I have the baby, one of my friends politely suggests that it may be “hubris” to think that I can make up for the fact that the baby’s father would not be in the house, and not even in the city most of the time. ...
The submerged premise here is that there is something greedy, selfish, narcissistic, or anti-social about having a baby on your own. ...
At lunch I mention to an editor that I am thinking of writing about single mothers and the subtle and not so subtle forms our moralism toward them takes. He says: “That’s a good idea. And I say that as a guy who looks at single women and thinks, ‘What’s wrong with her? How did she screw up?’ ”
In spite of our exquisite tolerance for and fascination with all kinds of alternative lifestyles, we have a wildly outdated but strangely pervasive idea that single motherhood is worse for children, somehow a compromise, a flawed venture, a grave psychological blow to be overcome, our enlightened modern version of shame. It malingers, this idea; it affects us still.
The power of this view is that it very easily gets inside your head, it resonates with every children’s book you have ever read about little bear families, with all the archaic visions of family that cohere in the furthest reaches of your imagination: It’s hard to free yourself.
Saturday, October 08, 2011
Crazy single moms
Journalist Katie Roiphe writes about being a crazy single mom: