Anonymous Mom: I Chose Single Motherhood & Have Been Branded A Shitty Mom Ever Since

single motherhoodAnonymous Mom is a weekly column of motherhood confessions, indiscretions, and parental shortcomings selected by Mommyish editors. Under this unanimous byline, readers can share their own stories, secrets, and moments of weakness with complete anonymity.

I chose single motherhood. Although I was in a relationship when I got pregnant in 2002, my son was only really wanted by me. His father and I would chuckle about how the combination of our genes would result in an interesting child: he has ADHD and I suspect that I am on the low end of the Autism spectrum. When I really did get pregnant, it wasn’t as funny.

As soon as I saw the red bar on the pregnancy test I knew I would be doing this on my own. There were no tears, just a sigh of “here we go.” I had my then-boyfriend’s support, but not for long.

My son, now nine, has asked me over the years whether I wanted a baby, and I always tell him “yes.” In fact, I’d wanted a baby from age 25; I was 28 when he was conceived. I had just started graduate school and was working for myself from home. Despite the complexity of my situation, abortion was not an option I was willing to entertain. I am pro-choice, but I knew that I could never personally go through with an abortion. It would destroy me psychologically. At 28 I figured I was old enough to raise a child. I was done with partying and enjoyed being at home, so staying in with a child was not a huge leap.

No matter how much I wanted my son, and his father didn’t, I could have never predicted the ill treatment that would come my way following his birth.

About a month after my son was born, his father had an emotional breakdown. The verbal abuse started followed by the physical threats. He stopped working and just two weeks after my son was born I was freelancing again to support the family. Four months later, my son and I were removed from the home by police.

I did not get any congratulations or flowers for keeping my baby.

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  • meteor_echo

    All these people can go pin a rose on their nose. You sound like an awesome, responsible, caring mother, who does the best for her child. This world needs more people like you :>

  • Ellie

    I’m so sorry you’ve been treated that way. People who would react like this to your choice don’t deserve your notice. Congratulations on your son. How wonderful that your parents get to be so involved in his life! It’s good for all of you.

  • Venessa

    I am so sorry you have to put up with people’s prejudice and judgement. You should know that there are many people all over the world who would agree that you are doing what is best for your son. How would it help him if you stay home and raise him in poverty? You are working and earning money so he can get the best in life. You should be applauded for that. And it is a blessing that your parents are willing and able to help you, so you can think of that when all the other negativity overwhelms you.

  • Maggie

    I can’t believe how horrible people can be to single moms, especially when the choices you made were all for your son’s well being. My older sister, who is my role model and #1 idol, was a single Mom for the first 10 years of my nephew’s life, and continues to be one of the best mothers I have ever seen in action. When my nephew was 2, my sister finished grad school and was her class valedictorian, despite working, going to school, and being a single Mom. I have the utmost respect for single mothers, because nobody but a single mom can quite understand how hard it is. Good for you for doing right by your son, and for keeping your life together against the odds. Keep up the fabulous work! xo

    • Dylan_R

      ” Keep up the fabulous work! xo”

      “about one-third of girls whose fathers left the home before they turned 6 ended up pregnant as teenagers, compared with just 5 percent of girls whose fathers were there throughout their childhood.”

      “Research by Sara McLanahan at Princeton University suggests that boys are significantly more likely to end up in jail or prison by the time they turn 30 if they are raised by a single mother. Specifically, McLanahan and a colleague found that boys raised in a single-parent household were more than twice as likely to be incarcerated, compared with boys raised in an intact, married home, even after controlling for differences in parental income, education, race, and ethnicity. Research on young men suggests they are less likely to engage in delinquent or illegal behavior when they have the affection, attention, and monitoring of their own mother and father.”

      What fabulous work?

  • LiteBrite

    Back in 1968, when my mom was 22, she found out she was pregnant with me. She decided she was okay to raise a child; my bio dad didn’t agree. He headed back to Texas, never to be seen or heard from again. My mom moved in with my grandmother (her mom), and that’s where we lived until she married my stepdad six years later.

    She too got a lot of crap for her decision. People think the late 60s was all about free love and harmony, but it was still business as usual in the upper Midwest. People thought she was a horrible mother and a horrible person. Even my own MIL years later suggested I had a “rough childhood.” But you know, I look back on that time as one of the happiest in my life. My mom took care of me during the day; my grandmother took care of me at night while my mom worked second-shift. This allowed me to form a deep bond with my grandmother, one that lasted until her death 15 years ago. I also had the added bonus of having my great-grandmother living above us, and I truly believe that our unique family dynamic gives me a different perspective on life even today.

    Count me in the chorus of people who think you’re doing an amazing job. Your son is not only getting the benefit of a wonderful parent but the benefit of being able to form a lasting bond with his grandparents. This is something that a lot of kids don’t get and should not be underestimated.

  • Krista Rabe

    I moved into my mom and stepdad’s house, across the country, with my 7-month-old daughter after it became clear her father would never, ever support us. He never spent time with her, bought diapers or formula, or got up with her in the middle of the night. My dad’s entire family jumped on the ex’s side as he dragged me into court to try and force us to move back (read here: into section 8 housing, living off beanie-weenies and flour tortillas). I was kicked out of my sister’s wedding and received midnight nasty-gram text messages from my dad’s family about how terrible I was to “take a man’s child away”. Over a year since he filed his case against me (which he lost) and I can count on 1 hand the number of times he’s called/Skyped with her. Never sends letters, birthday cards, Christmas cards, etc. Even when we were in town for 10 whole days and I told him he could see her whenever he wanted, he never came to see her. Last month he skipped out on a 2-week visit and never showed up to get her. He just doesn’t care, but I can’t convince my family of that.
    Meanwhile, he’s the “hurting, wounded daddy” and I’m the shitty one. I’m in school full time and about to graduate with a 3.8 and start my own career, be independent and happy and healthy and whole and moving the hell on with my life.
    Maybe we would have been sleeping in the same house, but he was never there – physically, emotionally, or spiritually. It’s like they think it would have been better for me to marry a man that didn’t love my child than to do it on my own for a while.
    hang in there, girl. you’re doing your best! go for it!

  • trixiya

    Oh, girl! I know how the Italians can be (I am one).
    When I got pregnant (out of wedlock *gasp*), the first question that I was asked was “Are you getting married?”.
    The looks of horror on the faces of the Italians (not my family, but the extended family – my cousin’s cousins), was mental.
    I, of course, fired back with “I think the commitment to raise a baby together is much more valid than a diamond ring and a piece of paper”, which often kept them quiet.
    Most surprising was my parents, who supported me (because they love my boyfriend more than they love me!), and never once asked if we were going to get married. They saw it my way – we were committed and a document from the government wouldn’t make that any more real – and they answered back to people with that sentiment when they would question them about my impending marriage.
    I applaud you for being strong enough to do this.
    My sister-in-law’s mother went through a similar experience to yours at only 19 years old (she’s Italian, too), and, both, she and my sister-in-law are absolutely amazing, kind and wonderful individuals.
    Congrats to you for being friggin awesome and setting a strong, positive example for your little man who will, I’m sure, grow up to be an understanding, respectful and loving partner!

  • Dani Gusto

    This hits really close to home. I got pregnant with my daughter after just beginning a new relationship when I was 23. Her biological father wanted me to have an abortion; I made it clear that that was not something I was willing to do and he was truly awful about it. I decided it would be better to cut contact with him than have her grow up with a distant, resentful father, so I offered to let him off the hook for child support if he wouldn’t challenge me for joint custody. At the time, I knew I was ready to become a mother and I had a strong support network, but that didn’t stop people from making rude comments. I had people confront me on multiple occasions to tell me that I was being irresponsible for not considering abortion or adoption and that I wouldn’t be able to offer my child a good life as a single mother. She is a happy, healthy little girl and she and I have been living with my current boyfriend since she was six months old. The last time I heard from her biological father was when I was 20 weeks gestation, and that was basically just to make sure we were still cool with him not paying for anything. She’ll be two in January.

    • Dylan_R

      Your daughter is 10 times as likely to be abused since you are a single mom with a live-in boyfriend, than she would be raised by two biological parents who married before having kids. Look up the fourth national incidence study on child abuse and neglect. Single moms themselves are more than twice as likely to abuse/neglect kids as “traditional” families

      “The authors find that regardless of parents’ race or educational background, children spending some part of their childhood in a single-parent household earn lower grades in school and are less likely to graduate from high school, less likely to attend or graduate from college, and more likely to be unemployed during late adolescence and early adulthood. Young women from single-parent households are more likely to bear children outside of marriage.”

    • March

      That study is unscientific and should be disregarded.

    • Dylan_R

      Which study? The Fourth National Incidence Study on Child Abuse and Neglect is incredibly rigorous. It was commissioned by Congress, conducted by Westat and covered 122 US coutnies, 126 CPS agencies and over 1,200 more public agencies like police, schools, shelters, hospitals etc. Read it here:

      Growing up with a Single Parent: What Helps, What Hurts, is based on Sarah McLanahan’s work and other scientific studies; it is a book, not a study. McLanahan, a Princeton sociologist has studied families for over three decades. She originally belonged to the 1970s line of thought that single mothers raised children just as well as traditional families. But being a sociologist, she was able to study children herself and read several other studies in the 80s that threw out everything liberals had fantasized about single moms:

    • Kasondra Iarussi

      You are right…children of single parent homes are also much more likely to become involved in delinquent activity as well in their teens. But the fact is that it isn’t always possible for there to be a two parent home(especially two biological parents) and many times the alternative of one parent is much better. Raising a child in an abusive home or a home where one parent resents the other child or is just not involved at all is also detrimental. So while your facts are correct they do not apply to this particular story because the two parent home wasn’t an option at this point.

    • Jen Clark

      That’s a load of shit dylan, and I take strong offense to that, considering my childs bio father was highly abusive and even contacted me multiple times to tell me he was going to hurt, kidnap and murder her in order to get back at me for leaving and moving on. To sit there and insist that myself and other single moms are going to abuse their very loved-much wanted children is outrageous. And to insist that my child would not be abused or become a delinquent if she was around her abusive, drug addicted, uncaring “father” is disgusting. Here’s something you didn’t add in your little “study” The children that are abused by single moms, are the one’s that weren’t loved or wanted, the mothers often have them young or are forced or manipulated into having them by either a religious group, family or a significant other, and some of them conceived through rape and incest. Single mothers arent the only culprit, married couples abuse children as well and often. My boyfriend loves my daughter and treats her as his own, to say that she isn’t safe and we would be better off with the bio sickens me to my core. keep your judgments to yourself. Until you can go through a pregnancy and go through what some of us have gone through, you don’t have an opinion.

    • Dani Gusto

      Your brain is broken.

    • Dylan_R

      Your ad hominem does not diminish what I said in any fashion. Look up the “Cinderella Effect.” Step parents and adoptive abuse non-biological children and neglect them at astoundingly higher rates. They also devote less time, attention and resources to them

      The Fourth National Incidence Study on Child Abuse and Neglect, an incredibly rigorous and detailed study, shows that clearly a single parent witha alive-in partner have the highest rates of ALL abuse of all lviving arrangements. Page 26(of the pdf): “Compared to children living with married biological parents, those whose single parent had a live-in partner had more than 8 times the rate of maltreatment overall, over 10 times the rate of abuse, and nearly 8 times the rate of neglect.”

      Also check out pages 150-154(again of the pdf, not the document) and pages 169-171 to see just how rates of abuse have risen amongst single parents since the last National Incidence study(conducted in 1993) and how it has fallen amongst biological married parents.

      Single parents have significantly higher rates of worse outcomes for children in educational scores, dropping out, drug use, delinquency, teen pregnancy etc.

      Here’s one startling statistic: ” about one-third of girls whose fathers left the home before they turned 6 ended up pregnant as teenagers, compared with just 5 percent of girls whose fathers were there throughout their childhood.” #shouldhavehadanabortion

      Oh and given that two-thirds of cohabiting parents split up before the child reaches 12(an age when a kid is a hormonal ball of angst) how long do you think you and your noncommittal boyfriend will last?

    • Dani Gusto

      I have no interest in engaging with you on this topic. I hope you find a better hobby for yourself soon.

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  • Nichole

    I just think it’s a shame that men never really get to choose whether or not they become fathers. Like in this case…SHE wanted the baby, and he had no say in it. THAT is why the abuse, etc, came about. This huge life decision was basically forced upon him. I really feel bad for him that he had to go through this kind of stress :-(
    This is the reason I think ALL potentially child-bearing couples NEED to have an established plan of what to do if this sort of thing happens. (It should be in writing, if necessary. I know of too many women who have used men to get the babies they want, or are out for a baby AND that man’s money)!
    That way, if they (for example) both agree they don’t want a baby, and the woman becomes pregnant, I believe the man should have absolutely no obligation whatsoever if she goes against the previously mutually agreed upon arrangement.
    If it were established that they didn’t want kids, and she got knocked up and decided to keep it anyway, I think that is 100% HER responsibility to then take care of the child, without any support whatsoever from that man.
    I actually know someone this happened to. From a one-night stand came a pregnancy. The woman said she didn’t care if he wanted anything to do with the baby or not, but SHE desperately wanted a baby, so she was going to keep it. She originally said she wanted no child support or anything because it was just the baby she was interested in. Fast forward to a couple years later….she now considers him a dead-beat dad because he doesn’t want to give her money, etc etc etc. I think that’s complete and utter bullshit!
    Many women who are pro-choice will say, “My body, my choice.” And I absolutely agree with that, HOWEVER, if SHE wants the baby, and he does not, I don’t think that makes him a “dead-beat dad.” If she did NOT want the baby, and he DID, but she got an abortion anyway, she is just seen as a woman asserting her right to choose. But the man’s right to choose is usually thrown out the window if the woman decides to keep it. In this case, especially, a man’s choice is basically 0%.
    That is completely unfair.
    I know I tend to ramble, and for that I’m sorry. I tend to write like I speak, so I hope I am getting my points across without sounding too redundant or anything.
    I just don’t think a dad who decides to NOT be a father should be held in a negative light because of that, because if a woman were to decide not to be a mother, she would be “pro-choice” whereas a man would be a “dead-beat dad.”
    I hope that all makes sense….,I’ve been going on 1.5 hours of sleep for the last 48 hours or so, so if my rambling did NOT makes sense to anyone, please let me know and I will do what I can to try to clear it up a bit :-)

    • Val

      If someone does not understand that engaging in sex can create a baby, then perhaps that person should not be having sex, eh? The only way to ensure that a baby is not created, is to abstain. The end. No need for agreements if you arent engaging in risky behavior. Don’t want to be a dad? Keep it in your pants. Seriously, if you feel like you cant trust the person to begin with, why are you sleeping with them? And if you are in a relationship and dont want kids, get snipped! No babies then. Or you can draw up an uncomfortable contract and get lawyers involved. Whatever.

    • ipsedixit010

      But couldn’t the same thing be said about women? Don’t want to be a mom? Keep your pants on. But we do give women the right to chose – a right I fully support. If a woman wants to engage in risky behavior, then there is an “out” in having an abortion. Men don’t have that same option or a say in the matter.

    • Dani Gusto

      Since men are aware of the reality that they are living in, they should pay special attention to ensure that they don’t have sexual intercourse with anyone who doesn’t agree with them about what to do in the incidence of an unplanned pregnancy. They aren’t given the same “out” that women receive because bearing a pregnancy has no effect on a man’s bodily autonomy. Everything isn’t fair all the time. Men know what choices they do and do not have and need to plan accordingly. This isn’t necessarily about abstinence, but rather about choosing your sex partners more carefully.

    • E.J.

      This is utterly ridiculous. Men are required by law to work and support children that they don’t want. If they fail to do so, they are thrown in prison. How is that not a huge effect on a man’s bodily autonomy? “Keep it in your pants” was ruled to be an insufficient argument in Roe vs Wade, yet it’s still used by women against men today. It’s hilarious how women will claim that they want equality, but they defend every single example of inequality that benefits women. What a complete joke.

    • Miki

      The reality is someone has to support kids. I’d rather it be the biological dad than taxpayers.

    • Ophelia

      From the article it sounds like the mother and her parents are supporting the child, no mention of government support.

    • Natalie Wmyer

      Are you actually saying that because she chose to have the baby, she’s responsible for his abuse? Are you high?

    • Justme

      I don’t even know how to respond to this mess. My brain is absolutely boggled by this nonsensical logic.

    • Parvati Lynn

      A man does have a choice – if he absolutely doesn’t want to be a father, he can wear a condom or get a vasectomy. He is not forced to have unprotected sex with anyone against his will. I can’t believe you are saying that it’s her fault she was abused because she kept the baby. That is ridiculous and really terrible. Way to be an apologist.

    • C.J.

      Very easy, a man doesn’t want to have to support a child then take the proper precautions to not have one. Use a condom, abstain, vasectomy, there are many choices. Why is it only the woman’s responsibility? As for a man who had a one night stand and is having to support a child from it, no one made him have sex with her. He chose to have sex, now there are consequesnces. Men have just as much choices as women, they can choose to protect themselves. I do agree that couple’s should discuss how they feel about having children. My husband and I did when we were dating. I brought it up early in our relationship because I do not believe in having an abortion as a means of birth control and made sure he knew. I do believe that before people engage in sex they should discuss their views on abortion and if their views are very different it might not be a good idea to have sex. Sorry but once a child is there if the father doesn’t want to be a father he is a deadbeat. He helped create the child even if he was mislead. He still made the choice to engage in an activity that created a child.

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  • Fred

    Of course you’re a shitty parent. You chose a shitty father who couldn’t even maintain a normal life. That was your selfish, irresponsible decision, and now you child will pay for it forever. Growing up fatherless is lousy. My father’s and my girlfriend’s and several friends’ lives were blighted that way. It’s rotten. Sometimes the father flaked out, sometimes the mother — but it takes two to tango. My girlfriend’s father was the most glaringly obvious bad risk on the planet: A druggie musician. He’s to blame for his faults, bt his now-ex-wife knew what she was getting into and did it anyhow. As a result, her three kids grew up wild, and her sons have no clue how to be responsible grown men. She did her best with the hand she dealt herself, but her best wasn’t any better than you’d expect.

    Women who make reckless, irresponsible choices are not innocent of the effects those choices have on their children. You knew this jerk was a head case. You chose to wait until a headcase was your only option. Now youryou relatives treat you like the loser you are, and your child suffers for it. This was all your willing choice. I don’t care if you feel bad about being told that. How does your kid feel about being denied a father? Do you even care? Or are you the only person on earth you care about at all? Your family doesn’t want your young female relatives getting the idea that what you did was OK, so of course theyshun you. They’re making an example of you. If it spares other kids the harm you’re the doing your own, and it likely will, then it’s the right thing to do. I’d do the same.

    • March

      Eff off, you narrow-minded troll.

    • Jen Clark

      Were you born with a uterus fred? Have you ever been through pregnancy or a bad situation? If not then you don’t have an opinion. There are alot of situations that don’t actually turn bad until a pregnancy happens, did you ever think about that? And single mothers do often go on to form committed relationships and get married, so it’s not like the child is without a father forever. And just because someone isn’t the biological father, doesnt mean they can’t be a good father to the child. Simply leaving a bad situation doesnt make someone a shitty mother, but what is shitty, is you judging, careful your male privilege is showing, it must be easy to judge when you sit on the sidelines in all your glory never being able to walk in their shoes. You’re a shitty person.

    • Honest, not shitty person

      A pregnancy doesn’t just “happen.” Consenting adults make a choice knowing it’s a possible outcome. If that person knows their partner is not reliable as a parent and knows they can not support the child entirely on their own, then that woman is making an irresponsible choice to keep the baby. I have a uterus (and a child, conceived in a stable, loving mutually committed relationship). I also had an unexpected pregnancy before that and you know what my reaction was? “I chose to have sex with a guy I knew there was no future with, so this is not anyone else’s responsibility. I can finish college before the baby comes and be able to support both of us. If that were not possible, I would not keep this baby.” I can give you plenty of examples of friends who chose to be single parents (all except one were also the children of single moms), and their children suffer because of it. Are they happy and healthy kids? Sure. Do they have stable homes and great parental relationships? No. And in one case, the only one who wasn’t the child of a single mom herself, her parents have been supporting her and her two children in their home for two years. The result? The grandparents have no patience, no money, and both suffer from high blood pressure and anxiety. Because people in their 50s should not be supporting grown children and raising small children that their children couldn’t raise alone and chose to have anyway. It’s irresponsible. Sure, there are cases where the woman thought the man was her partner and he later backed out, but we’re not talking about that. We’re talking about women who know when the pregnancy “happens” that they will be single parents and chose to do it anyway. You’re over 25 and self-supporting and emotionally stable? Great, your kid will probably be fine. But those are not the women having children by themselves, for the most part.

    • Jen Clark

      I’m 20, self supporting and emotionally stable. Pregnancy can “just happen” it’s called rape, not all sex is consensual. I was actually working, and had my own place, plus on birth control along with my previous doctors unlikely to conceive ruling on me when I got pregnant. Yes some women have children young, no form of birth control, and then neglect the kids or dump them on their parents, but me being a single mother should not automatically be labeled as a piece of shit, despite not knowing my story, just because of what someone else did, that’s prejudice. Assumptions also make an ass. People live different lives, you might have had the choice easily, but others did not.

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  • C.J.

    You sound like you are a very good mother. That’s all that matters. People who critisize you for choosing to keep your baby aren’t even worth thinking about. Being Catholic is not a reason to shame someone about having a baby. I am Catholic and I believe every child is a blessing no matter how they came about. Your child should have received the same treatment as your sister’s child. Your son is just as important. That’s pretty crappy for people to take it out on your child because they don’t agree with your decisions. Good for you for finishing your education while being a parent. That isn’t easy. My dad went back to school when I was a kid so I saw how hard that can be. Your son is very lucky to have a loving mother and grandparents. Negative people just aren’t worth thinking about. They are the ones losing out because they are missing the joy of your child.

  • Benjamin Coker

    Yep, your title pretty well covers it. You chose some pretty terrible things for your child, welcome to hell.

    • Whatever

      Please go back to the rock from whence you came.

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