I first latched onto the label Single Mother By Choice when I read Jane Mattes’ book, Single Mother’s By Choice, over a decade ago.  That book, and the corresponding organization of the same name, provided me with both support and the justification I needed at the time to venture on my journey toward motherhood.  I am an active member still.

After recently speaking to a mother-to-be, she questioned my use of the term single mother by choice., asking me why I used the words single and choice to define my status.  Her question gave me pause and forced me to give serious consideration about the labels we use to define ourselves.  It was a good question and deserved a well thought out answer.  She stated, and I agree, “we are simply mothers.”

In fact, I did not take that journey alone but somehow became a magnet for other single women searching for a way to become mothers.  We used my couch as a meeting place to plot our path forward.  None of us were knowledgeable about fertility clinics, or IVF (in vitro fertilization) or ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) treatments and some didn’t even know how to determine our basal body temperatures.  But what we shared in common was a determination to have a family and to do so outside of the traditional archetype of a family.   Some of us had to adjust to the idea that we didn’t have the “love” of our life taking the journey with us.  And some of us just didn’t care.  Meanwhile, all of us became mothers.
I was forced by the question of labels to re-evaluate why I habitually used single mother by choice to define myself.  This young lady made me realize that being single is really not relevant to my role as a mother.  Instead, the term served to separate me from my  married counterparts and perhaps identified me as available to the dating population.  I also used it unintentionally as a statement of defiance:  I am single: I am tough; I can do this.  Being single is not the way I would like to be remembered.  I did not enter young adulthood choosing to be single.  Unfortunately, that status was a result of choices I made and life’s varied permutations like chance and circumstance. Eventually my  single status butted up against my waning fertility, and I was compelled to make a choice.  So I did.  And here I am: a mother.
As Katie Roiphe so aptly stated in her article In Defense of Single Motherhood, New York Times, August 12, 2012: “It’s useful and humbling to remember that no family structure guarantees happiness or ensures misery: real life is wilier and more fraught with accident and luck than that. “