So – I decided to start conducting a series of structured qualitative interviews with other single moms who have done/are doing this #SingleMomLife and are doing really well. We all need sources of inspiration and I think this series is going to be very powerful in that regard. I’ve endeavoured to cover a variety of topics with each interviewee that explore things of concern to most of us in a deep, and very real, very now sense. My intention is to think about all of these interviews and their responses (including whatever discussion happens in the comments), and do follow-up blog posts analysing certain aspects of them and connecting them with contemporary issues that affect us all.
All interviewees in this series will, by default, remain anonymous unless they indicate otherwise to me that they prefer to be known. The series of questions have been provided to the interviewees in the form of a word document that they fill out and return to me at their leisure. For the record, I am not currently funded (being paid for this) and neither are the interviewees.
The first interview (included here, below) is with a woman in her late 30’s/early 40’s, who is a professional business/life consultant, book author, and runs her own website and web development company. She’s been a single mom for over a decade, has known both hard times and good ones. Hope this inspires some of you and gives you hope 🙂
Interview with Rad Single Moms (1.)
How long have you been a single mom?
Twice over as I have two children – the first time for about a year and then lately (with some relationships but nothing I would count as undermining single mother status) ten years. My son is now an adult.
Did you give birth alone?
Was single motherhood a choice? What were the circumstances that led up to it?
Yes. With my first child, I was very young and always knew that the relationship was not going to sustain. The second was a much more long and stable relationship (marriage) but I made the decision to leave.
What are/were the stresses and pressures you face(d)?
I was mid-20s with my son (the eldest) and really had an extremely low income. I felt quite isolated but became really ingenious with money. With my daughter, I had established a successful business and am now really proud of my self-reliance. My children are also. I did definitely experience some prejudice – again, more with my son when I was younger. I don’t know if the difference in experiences is because the times have changed to be more progressive or if it is because I seem less like someone to mess with. I also have found that some cultures are a lot more judgemental.
Do you feel that other people (with or without kids) understand single motherhood? Does it matter if they do/don’t understand it?
The more conservative people are all about that you do ANYTHING to stay in a traditional relationship. That the husband would have to be an actual criminal or something to make it “right” that you are leaving. I also notice a lot of hostility toward the poor single mothers for being “bludgers” and the rich ones (like Real Housewives of Anywhere, which has its fair share of single mothers) for being somehow “indulgent.”
Do you find that other parents that have partners understand your situation?
No. Once a few years ago I had this absolutely vital book deadline and I explained the situation to this neighbour of mine who agreed to look after my daughter so I could work. We were friends and I was always very generous to her in kind so it was not some imposition. But she just casually came back HOURS later from some thing because “time go away from her” and clearly she was just oblivious to how important to me it was that I carved out that time.
Do you think that other people with partners are privileged in ways that single mothers aren’t?
In the sense of double income – if that is the case – certainly. It is also good to have a co-parent you can discuss the kid with! Like share moments, talk about strategy for – say – behaviour, diet and education. On the other hand, a dying or toxic relationship can really drain your energy to the point that you are a less effective parent.
Have you ever felt excluded from social events held by people with partners?
Absolutely. It is SUCH a cliché and one that older women I admire have always warned me about but I laughed them off. You don’t get invited to things as women always think you’re going to hit on their husband.
Do you feel that single motherhood is lonely?
Yes and no. I have also felt lonely within a relationship though. It is really hard when your child is a certain age – like too young to leave in the house by yourself – and you can’t just go out when you feel like it. It can feel like you are trapped and it is very easy to fall in to sub-optimal habits like drinking alone or turning to junk food-tv.
On a social level, have you ever felt or experienced any form of predation in dating? (i.e. people that you feel may have ‘targeted’ you with ulterior self-serving motives? Serial ‘single-mom’ daters? Paedophiles?)
Great question! I am a little bit paranoid about the latter as I have a beautiful teenage daughter and I know when my son was little there was this pervy guy who kept chatting me up and trying to move WAY inappropriately to take my kid to the movies while I get a pedicure sort of thing but his vibe was SO off nothing happened. With serial single mom daters – no – but this is one of the reasons I have worked my arse off to be financially and emotionally independent. I am not closed to love/relationships but I am not investing time and energy into dating with the hope of meeting anyone and I would only be interested in a quality romance with someone I met via (broadly) my usual habitat and movements.
Is your son/daughter aware of the situation? (of your struggle, having only one parent, etc.)
They are fine! But their fathers (different dads) are both more or less present or around in their lives, albeit at a distance. My theory is that children like comfort and stability, with no drama and Wi-Fi!
Do you feel that policy and politicians represent the interests and needs of single mothers in your city/country adequately?
What needs to change?
Subsidized childcare for single parents & innovative co-housing. Like unused factories innovatively transformed into utopian living spaces with some privacy (obviously) and also communal living areas.
What is now – or has been – the hardest part of single motherhood for you? What has the biggest challenge been?
Just the above – that married women tend to isolate you & I am deeply aware that if bagged some alpha husband this week, they would be sniffing back around to have me join their circles. Having said that, I believe I have developed in ways (creative, spiritual) that I would not have if I had of been asked in.
Do you think that there should be harsher penalties for men who refuse to pay child support/maintenance?
I don’t know what the penalties are now – but in Australia once the amount is established, the Child Support Agency take it direct from his pay.
Do you know other single mothers in your life?
Have many of them been abandoned by men? If so, have most of them successfully transmuted their experience of loss into something positive?
The ones I know had men who abandoned them by dint of becoming hopeless addicts or really stuck at mid-life. The few I do know where the man just took off have done REAL well. Although one has a son who has gotten a role on a successful soap and the father has mysteriously turned up again.
How do you unwind?
Sleep – walking the dog – yoga – the usual.
Do you think if more women knew about feminism and what it can contribute to their lives that it would help them as single mothers?
Yes for sure. This woman – her original site was like my saviour when in the early 90s – I don’t know what it is like now…
Has your sense of spirituality changed as a result of your experience being a single mother?
That is a really interesting question – I think that it may be what propelled me into goddess research. Pre Judeo-Christianity and Islam we had a plethora of female divinity from which to choose. The priestess path was as respected as the priest way, parthogenesis was a standard trait of goddesses and that was reflected in many cultures by respect for single mothers – their children were seen as having a deity for a father. If I had stayed married I would never have been “allowed” to read Women Who Run With The Wolves which was a game changer for me. It also made me more politically aware – I am still mystified as to how the very people who are anti-abortion can ALSO be anti-single mothers. It seems ridiculous.
What do you think the greatest form of empowerment is for new single moms out there – especially those that are struggling or feeling loss?
Blogging. Finding or forming a group where you can do things like mind one anothers kids so the others go out and do growth things. Also remember that if you can get it together on the financial front, the freedom is amazing.
Thank you! This was really thought provoking…