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Unwed Mamas


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?”

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About gettrich

Debra Rich Gettleman is a professional actor, playwright and journalist living in Seattle, WA with her husband Mark and two amazing boys, Levi and Eli.

2 responses to “Unwed Mamas

  1. Jennifer ⋅

    Having started out as a single mom and now married I can honestly say that you are right. While being a mom has been the most amazing experience of my life to date and it has also been the hardest. I didn’t set out down this road intentionally – but I am glad that no one sat me down to layout how unbelievable hard it would be. I doubt that I would have changed my mind, but can anyone ever prepare you for the joys and sorrows of being a parent? I am full-time mom, full-time employee, and part-time college student and there hasn’t been a day since my son was born 4 years ago that I have ever felt like I was doing well in all areas at the same time. So what I have learned is to manage my own expectations and deal with the guilt.
    I think that you are also right that kids need both male and female influences in their life. My son’s biological father has chosen not to be in his life for the past 3 years. I think it is better to have no parent than a really bad one though. I have been lucky to live close to family so my son had a strong male influence in his Grandpa. Last summer I did get married and my husband is also a wonderful father. I love him dearly and it is great to have someone to help with the logistics – the dynamic is different than in a traditional family. I will always feel like I have the primary responsibility for my son and I will never feel like I completely share that burden.
    I wouldn’t recommend this path to anyone – but I also wouldn’t discourage anyone. My son and I have a wonderful bond and I wouldn’t trade it for all the sleepless nights…
    The group of people I really feel for right now are those mom and dads who are for all intents and purposes single parents right – those with spouses who are deployed. They have all of the stress of being single parents with the additional burden of having their loved one in harm’s way…that’s a hard life!!

  2. Amy ⋅

    Let’s discuss over a drink…..Amy S./Deerpath

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