Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tales of an unwed mother

The other night after dinner, The Kid asked me if The Man and I were going to get married now.

"Now that what?" I asked.

"...now that you're having a baby," he replied.

Ah, yes. And there it is. I've been waiting for someone to ask that question. The fact is, we're not getting married, and I'm totally okay with that. Maybe we will someday, maybe we won't. We are most definitely committed for the long haul, and have every expectation we'll spend our lives together. But marriage? I don't know how I feel about that one. Of course, this isn't so easily explained to The Kid.

Or is it?

I've noticed that there's a question that gets asked often of single parents, whether it be sparked by a conversation (debate) about dating, grown up "sleep overs", sex, remarriage, pregnancy, etc. It goes something like this: "That would be a fine choice if you didn't have children. But how will you explain that behavior to your kids?"

I've always found this a rather odd question. How will I explain it to my child? I'll open my mouth and use my words, probably throw in a few bad analogies, and maybe sketch out a quick diagram if I think that will help. In other words, the same way I explain anything to my child. The fact that some of those explanations butt up against readily accepted social norms doesn't make them any different.

And so I answered this question - like all the others - as openly and honestly as I could. We talked about why people are usually married when they have a baby. We talked about the fact that having a baby is a really big deal, and that having a baby alone is really hard. We talked about the ways that people can find themselves in situations where they're forced to have a baby on their own. We talked about situations where people choose to have a baby on their own. We talked about the middle ground where The Man and I are: not married, but also not alone. We talked about where The Man and I are in our relationship - all the ways it's similar to and different from being married - and how that affects our readiness to have a baby together. We talked about sperm and eggs and sex (because The Kid was confused about how The Man could be the baby's dad if we weren't married). One tangential question even had us talking about birth control. But most importantly, we talked about how there are many, many circumstances under which people have babies: some more ideal than others and some - but not all - involving marriage.

I certainly did not plan to become pregnant outside of marriage for the sole purpose of having this conversation with my son. But I would be lying if I said I didn't leave our little talk appreciating the opportunity it afforded. I can't think of many things more important than teaching my son to ponder and evaluate popular ideas; to understand that there are at least two sides to every story; to recognize the shades of gray in every black or white extreme; to know, unequivocally, that there is more than one "right" way to do every single thing.

More than one "right" way, even, to have a baby.

13 comments:

BigSis said...

I can't even begin to tell you how much I loved this post. You are so right. And, I'm living a similar conundrum of being an only parent whose child has never met his father worrying about what I should and shouldn't do and say to raise my child the best way possible. So, thank you for this post. It is awesome!

BigSis said...

Me again - really love this post and am linking to it. Hope you don't mind :)

Nicki said...

Glad to see I'm not the only one who has these open and honest discussions with my kids. Some people...fear them? avoid them at all costs?

I choose to meet them the way I meet all challenges. Head on.

Bravo, Mom!

Hissyfits & Halos said...

Stopping by from BigSis' place.

I've always questioned myself as to whether I was doing the right thing by being so open when talking about these same things with my girls. I've been in your exact shoes, years ago, and I'm so glad I was so honest, and answered their questions without any backpeddling, or cover ups. I've said a lot of, "This is what the Bible says," or "This is something that would have been handled better if...." (Okay, fine, I also said, "If YOU ever do something like this, I'll BEAT YOU!!!) lol

This was a great post. You should be very proud of the choices you've made, and the way you chose to communicate with your son. Good luck with the next chapter.....it sure is fun! :)

Ian said...

I am here because BigSis said she'd beat me into submission Boston Crab, Figure Four Leglock style if I didn't.

Great post!

Bev said...

Popping over from BigSis's place as well! Very thoughtful post. Congratulations on your pregnancy!

KERRI said...

I think it's always so great to give kids a picture of possibility. We do them a dis-service by confining their experiences of our huge, diverse world. Especially when they are young, before too much bias sets in, they are ready to embrace whatever 'truths' we offer them.

Laura said...

THAT was a great post!

Im applauding as Im reading this.

Your son will be much better off because you are giving him the ability to see all sides of a situation. Your honesty with him was wonderful.

Good for you

WhisperingWriter said...

Fantastic post.

You can just tell your son that it's all the rage in Hollywood to have babies and never get married.

Congrats on the baby!

T said...

LOVE THIS POST!

I agree with your take on this. Why should it be any different just because we have kids? And because we have kids, we are more apt to consider all the possibilities to every decision we make. I can't stand that we're always questioned about it.

I'm linking this to a post I'm about to write.

Good stuff.

Loco YaYa said...

GREAT POST.

i had to have this conversation with my (at the time) 8 yr old. i do believe that being open and honest helps. even if other people do not understand why.

here via BigSis. look forward to reading more.

Cat said...

Fantastic post. I'm someday going to be having a unique conversation with my son, since I want my next child to be by sperm donor or adoption. Thanks for showing that it can be done openly and healthily.

badmummynocookie said...

I'm of the mind that we need to build the opportunity for these kinds of conversations into our every day. How many of us has the memory of being sat down to receive "The Sex Talk", only having to break it to mom and/or dad that you already learned this stuff at school, from friends, from tv/internet/twitter...

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