Should single moms settle?

I have several friends who are single moms "on purpose" – they got pregnant knowing there would be no dad in the picture. We actually used to debate the best way to get pregnant without involving a guy – we came up with some creative and often hilarious ideas. (Hilarious as long as they didn’t apply to me and you didn’t consider the morality and ethics too closely!) My friends that are now single moms all profess to be happy with their decisions but I admit that I often wonder if they are being honest.

Today’s Atlantic Monthly magazine article Marry Him! was written by a single mom who says she regrets it. Her advice to women is to settle and marry the best guy they find without waiting for Mr. Perfect because almost any guy will be better than no husband. 

I think she’s wrong.  While I think it’s possible that some women are too picky, (they aren’t perfect, so why do they expect a guy to be perfect?) I don’t think you should marry a guy because you are looking for a child raising partner. You’ll only have kids at home for 20 years and most people having kids can expect to live another 40-50 years! Having someone to watch the kids for 20 minutes while you eat lunch is not a good reason to marry someone. (If you don’t have someone, it might be a reason not to have a kid, but that’s for another post.)

I think our approach to child rearing needs to change. Very few kids have two parents that are married and living in the same home. Some have one parent, some have two, some have four or more! Some kids have one home, many have two, and some have three or more! Some parents have 80% of the responsibility, some have 20%, some have Mondays and Tuesdays, some have weekends. 

What we need are better ways to connect parents to others like them. We need better daycare options for parents that need to go on dates, more flexible work environments for parents that need to attend a school play or doctor appointment, more daycare options closer to home and work, more work from home options (to save on commutes), etc.

Connecting parents to other parents like them is the one I’d most like to see. Most the Mommy and Me get togethers are for stay at home parents. While I can flex my time and make the meetings, I meet people who don’t have the same interests as me. When I meet parents at games or school events, we don’t really have enough time to connect.

A friend of mine has worked out an agreement where she watches her friend’s kid two mornings a week and the friend watches her kid two mornings a week so they both get some kid free time. I liked that. More of that would be good. Now if I just knew people in my neighborhood with little kids. Think they are on Facebook? (Once your kids are school age, it’s easier to find other families.)

So I think single moms face all the same problems that married moms face, they just don’t have a built-in partner to commiserate with.  But I think we could find ways to connect moms to people that would help them.  It would help both single moms and married moms … and unmarried moms living with boyfriends/dads.