Ladies who have opted not to walk down the aisle before becoming a mother represent a growing number of American moms. The New York Times reports that while only three percent of woman dared to raise a child out of wedlock in 1976, 21% of women are now raising children outside of marriage. This number has seen quite a jump from 2008 when only 15% weren’t sporting wedding bands. These numbers evidence the increasing paths available to women in which marriage, baby, career, and education don’t necessarily have to come in a fixed order, if at all.

The New York Times points out education as one of the most prominent reasons for diamond-less mommies, citing “college-educated women” as taking a “different path.” But I would argue that education is allowing women to determine and interpret their own route in which they assess what options are most important to them. Deciding on a timeline that best reflects their career ambitions and factors in tricky things like education and finances, all the while running up against their biological clock, takes creativity if nothing else. Let these mothers who have been so bold as to personally rewrite tradition be praised for aiming to attain what they want — and in a order that best suits them.