When I had my daughter I was the only person in my circle of friends who’d used a sperm donor to have a baby. But since then one of my best friends has also had a baby using a donor. And a couple more have looked into it. They’re still deciding if it’s the rather path for them, or have frozen their eggs.
In fact nearly every time I tell anyone that I had my daughter using a sperm donor, someone pipes up that either they’re considering it or they know someone who is.
All these women are good people. They’re smart, adventurous, funny, and attractive. They keep fit, have lots of friends, own their own homes, have good careers and are making good money.
They don’t have two heads, bad personal hygiene, or prefer their cats to human company.
Yes, they might have a few issues, but who doesn’t? Being baggage free doesn’t seem to be a reliable indicator of who partners up and who doesn’t. I certainly met some messed up people – and yes some with bad personal hygiene – who have managed to find someone to share their life with.
So why are women like them, and me, finding themselves choosing to become single mums? I can’t speak for them all but I can make a few, not so wild, guesses.
We’re not prepared to settle or trap someone into parenthood
I tried valiantly to settle. To want less. But I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t prepared to resign myself to a less than great, or even crappy, relationship in order to have kids.
When I wanted to be with someone they were always the commitment-phobic type, or not in that ballpark of their lives. So I tried online dating to find men who were in that place.
I met quite a few nice guys. But that’s all they were. Nice. I didn’t want to share my life with them. They didn’t make me belly laugh, or feel that shiver of excitement.
And I definitely didn’t want to have a child with someone who hadn’t chosen to take that step with me. I had opportunities, but I’d didn’t take them. I didn’t feel comfortable tying myself, and my child, for life to someone who didn’t want to be part of our lives, or worse. My over-active moral compass wouldn’t let me do it.
The clocks ticking and the men in our lives wait too long to settle down
If only I’d been attracted to older men. I always got involved with men my age or younger who weren’t ready to have kids. They didn’t see why they shouldn’t carry on partying and being a responsibility-free-zone well into their 30s – and beyond in some cases.
Recently, I read this article (Men like me are the reason women freeze their eggs) and it hits the nail on the head. The utterly misogynistic ‘why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?’ attitude stinks, but it’s how many men think.
But women continue to get the blame for our single status. Headlines in the Daily [Hate] Mail scream that we career women ‘forgot to have children’ because we’re too busy running to meetings and climbing the corporate ladder. Or we’re too picky.
It’s all bollocks. While many of the women I know have great careers like me they would have kids much earlier if the men in their lives had been willing.
So I’d like to see men getting an equal share of the blame for the fact that more and more women are ‘leaving it too late’ to have kids. It take two to tango as they say.
We want to get back in control of our lives
For years I felt like I was waiting for someone else to give me permission to have the life I wanted. I knew I wanted kids. And I needed a man to make that happen. Or so I thought.
So I was constantly looking for the approval or some man in the hope that he’d finally be the one who said “Yes! Let’s make babies!”
Eventually, heartbroken, angry and humiliated, I thought “Fuck that!” I couldn’t keep giving my power away. To keep leaving what I wanted to chance.
We’re lucky to live at a time when we women can take these matters into our own hands. So that’s what I did.
We’re searching for a higher purpose in life
My generation was supposed to be happy being career women. ‘Just’ wanting to be a mother, god forbid the stay-at-home variety, was frowned upon.
But I never bought into the ‘you can have it all’ message. Women’s rights isn’t about one path being right and another wrong. It’s about being able to choose what you want for your life be that a career or a fast ticket to motherhood.
Sure I wanted an interesting career. But I didn’t need to be the CEO.
By the time I hit my mid-thirties I’d go out to bars and clubs and wish I had a reason to not be there. I’d been doing it for 20 years and I was bored or the constant self-indulgence. I felt envious of my friends who had kids who could say they couldn’t join our weekly pub/club outing.
I lacked purpose. I wanted my life to revolve around something or someone else, to be about more than just me.
We’re fed up of the single & childless pity-party
As you get older people tend to feel sorry for single, childless people. From the dizzying heights of their coupled up life they tilt their head, look pitying and say ‘But you’re too attractive/great/pick your compliment to be single.’ Or ‘Aah, you’ll find someone when you least expect it.’
Like it’s a fate worse than death to be single. And even if most of the time we’re totally fine with being single that attitude starts to creep in. Sometimes you can bat it away but it gets
I felt pigeon-holed. Like everyone was assuming they knew everything about me based on the fact I was single and in my thirties. That I was desperate, needy and sad.
I dated a bloke, only a couple years younger than me, who confessed his friends had warned him I might pierce the condom to get pregnant. Insulted I retorted that I’d have chosen someone who had a better gene pool to offer if that was my plan.
Just because I was in my mid-thirties didn’t mean I was going to be any less discerning about who I chose to have kids with.
We want Christmas to be fun again
OK, this sound a bit flippant, but it isn’t. At about the same time the pitying looks started I started to dread Christmas. It felt like an annual reminder that my life hadn’t moved on yet. That I still didn’t have the home, husband and 2.5 children that I ‘should’ have.
I used to beat a retreat from family Christmases as quickly as I could. One year I spent half the day in Heathrow airport, waiting to get on a flight to Sydney.
It was all self-imposed. I felt
We’d rather use a sperm donor than never be a mother at all
This is what it came down to for me. Faced with missing out on the experience of motherhood, of knowing what it was like to carry a child, I chose to go it alone.
It’s not that straight-forward for everyone, I know that. I’ve friends who haven’t moved forward alone because they want the relationship more than a child. Or they’re somewhere in the middle, not certain they need to give birth to their own child, and still holding onto the hope that they’ll meet the right man before it’s too late.
Single motherhood wasn’t my dream. It’s rarely anyone’s dream. Using a sperm donor to have a baby wasn’t in my life plan. It was a scary choice to make. But for me, it was less scary than never being a mother at all.