The news came out yesterday that more than 1.7 million babies were born to unwed mothers in 2007. That translates into nearly 40% of all US births. Frankly, that’s an astounding figure. Now I consider myself to be a highly evolved feminist. I have little doubt that had I not found a man I wanted to have children with, I would’ve ventured down that unwed mother road myself. I can’t imagine losing the joy and satisfaction of having children merely because I couldn’t find someone to have and to hold until death did us part. But I wouldn’t have had a clue about what I was getting into. And now that there are two of us in this parenting duo, I want to be the first to say, thank God I didn’t do this alone.
As a mom, a working mom, who spends her life racing around between business meetings, volunteer sessions, and school field trips, I truly don’t know how anyone could do this on her own. Are all of these unwed mothers super women? Or do they all earn enough to hire fulltime live-in childcare help and housecleaning crews? I mean, by the end of the day, I’m so damn tired, I have to drag myself up the ladder of my son’s loft bed to tuck him in and kiss him goodnight. Thank goodness my husband’s around to do the ladder ascent half the time. I get up at 5a.m. every morning to greet my tireless imps and begin our morning rituals. By the time I pick them up, feed them dinner and harass them into doing their homework, I’m pretty much spent for the rest of the night. Plus, speaking of homework, I suck in science and math. (Stereotypical, I’ll admit that. But I do.) Having that strong male energy actually plays a critical role in our family.
I clearly get the feminist philosophy of not allowing a partner to dictate whether or not you have a child. I am woman hear me roar and all that stuff. But has anyone told these women what they’re really in for? I don’t mean to be negative, but when you’re the only parent, you’re the one who stays up all night with bad dreams, every night. You’re the one who disappoints when you have to work and can’t attend the end of the year recital that has to be inconveniently scheduled during the workday. You’re the one who soothes, punishes, delights, and snuggles. All of those things are great in limited quantities. But how can one person do this job, and do it well, all by herself?
I’m thoroughly elated that having a child alone no longer carries the stigma it did back in our parent’s day. And maybe the new figures are more illustrative of more couples raising children without the confines of legal wedded bliss. I’m really okay with that. I guess I’m more afraid that as we women strive for total equality and reproductive independence, we’re gonna end up shooting ourselves in the foot. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you really can’t have it all. As Steven Wright used to say, “Where would you put it?”