My Five-year-old Wants to be a Single Mother
My five-year-old daughter and I were discussing weddings and dance parties. I was feeling good about my open-minded parenting skills when I turned to her and said: “Well, if you choose to get married some day, you can have a disco ball at your wedding, too.”
I am careful to never mention gender when I talk about partnering. I am always clear that there are no expectations on who they may couple with when they become adults, or if they choose to couple at all. I use inclusive language, I let them know I love them no matter what. I am a supportive and a great mom.
Or so I thought.
Because in that moment, I got blindsided with a response that totally took me by surprise.
“Actually,” my sweet little girl looked me in the eye, ever-so-matter-of-factly, “I am going to be a single mom.”
I did not see that coming. And I am not proud of my first thoughts:
“No one wants to be a single mother.”
“You are not allowed to want that.”
Yes, that is right. I thought that last one too.
Me. The girl driven by the prime directive to live and let live. To love and accept all people for exactly who they are; and as long as who they are and what they do brings harm to no one, then my judgment-free acceptance is limitless.
Or so I thought.
Then this dangerous little antiquated gem popped into my head without permission. This little echo of all the times I cringed and had mean thoughts when relatives said, after I had my first child as a single mother:
“Oh, Karen…. Congratulations on the new baby, I guess. I just wish it was under better circumstances.”
When people treated my “situation” (um, my brand new baby) like it was distasteful at best and tragic at worst, I wanted to scream:
“Are you fucking kidding me? Have you seen this beautiful boy? He is unbelievably precious and I have never known such an intense feeling of love! How dare you associate regret with this majestic being!”
And yet, here I was. Judging my young daughter for mindfully dreaming of being a single mother. It is crazy because, for me, being a single mother was one of the best times of my life. Sure, I could have done without the eating-only-rice-and-beans-for-months-on-end part, but the rest was pure magic.
I worked (often with my baby in a front pack) and I mothered, and that was it. When the weekend came it was a glorious montage of free-feeling, little-person-centered fun and love. No house projects and no mate to suck up all of our time. It was beautiful.
Why, then, was I horrified at the thought of my daughter asking for this life?
Because I have baggage. Stupid, unwanted, limiting, mind-closing baggage. I have it and so might you. Luckily, we also have our super speedy, kindness-minded, progressive brains that can help us recognize that baggage – and then send it packing (he he he).
What happens in our brains we can’t help, but what comes out of our mouths we can.
So after I told my inner rule-prisoner to zip it, I told my daughter out loud:
“I think you would be a wonderful single mother. Maybe Daddy and I can come babysit sometimes.”
She thought that was a great idea, and I hope I have given her a little less baggage to unpack as she grows.