'Choice Moms': Alone and pregnant on purpose
This is the first time I've heard the phrase, but apparently "choice moms" is catching on as a label for women who choose single motherhood with no intention of partnering. A feature in today's Globe and Mail highlights some related support groups that are gaining popularity.
It's interesting how labels can help normalize what may have once been considered taboo or socially unacceptable. From the interviews in the piece, the identification of a unified group seems to have quite an empowering effect.
I don't know if it was intended or not, but I think 'choice moms' is great because it can also be taken to mean moms that simply happen to be choice.
Lily is not waiting for her biological clock to tick any louder. At 33, she has given up on dating. So she is planning to have a baby on her own next year, via a sperm donor.
While she has told some supportive family members of her plans, the Toronto resident has looked elsewhere for both practical and emotional advice: an online group called Choice Moms.
“I've always felt like an outsider because almost everybody is married with kids, so it's hard for me to find people who understand my feelings,” says Lily, who asked that her full name not be used.
“I feel like I've found people who understand me.”
As a social movement comes of age, this may sound like a branding exercise. But for those on the inside, how you identify yourself is a crucial part of the process.
For one thing, it is difficult to know exactly how many like-minded women are out there – or where to find them. According to Statistics Canada, 25 per cent of births in this country in 2005 were to single women, but the circumstances of those births are not collected. Some may have started out with a co-parent. Still other solo moms may be classified as divorced even though they chose to be parents for the first time post-divorce. So, the demographic pieces itself together from within.
She started the Choice Moms website in this last February, and it is now attracting about 2,000 visitors a month. A Yahoo message board she started a few years ago has about 800 regular members. She is hoping to find more. “There's a lot of us out there, we just don't know it,” she says.
Ms. Morrissette is the new solo mom on the block. A group called Single Mothers by Choice is considered the godmother of the genre. It was founded in 1981 by U.S. psychologist Jane Mattes and runs support groups across North America.
That different labels are emerging indicates the movement is coming of age, says Andrea O'Reilly, an associate professor of women's studies at York University in Toronto and director of the school's Association for Research on Mothering.
“In the last decade we have been redefining or reshaping what it means to be a mother,” she says. “A woman 48 and single can say, ‘I chose this.' And a woman at 18 can say, ‘I chose to keep my baby,' ” she says. “It's something we would not have seen a decade and a half ago.”