When I’m asked for advice about being a single mother by choice, there’s one book I always recommend. It’s probably the most comprehensive book about choosing single motherhood there is.
Originally self-published by fellow ‘choice mum’, Mikki Morrisette, in 2005, ‘Choosing Single Motherhood: The Thinking Woman’s Guide’ is the SMC bible. It was updated in 2008 and covers every stage of the the process from thinking about becoming a single mum, how go about becoming a single mum and the reality of being a single parent, to how other people react and how the kids of SMCs have turned out.
What I got out of the book
I had already taken a few tentative steps down the path to becoming a single mother by choice when this book was recommended to me, but a inner fight I was having with myself was stopping me from taking any decisive action.
Mikki Morrisette’s book helped me give a name to what I was wrestling with. I was ‘grieving the childhood dream’. The dream of having a child as a natural progression of a loving relationship. Of seeing my beloved in my child’s eyes and of knowing we’re irrevocably connected by the little person we created. Of being like everyone else – if such a thing exists.
Having a baby by myself wasn’t the life I had planned for myself, it wasn’t what I wanted for me or my child ideally either. But what this book showed me was that I had to accept that by going it alone I was making the best of the circumstances life had thrown my way.
It helped me realise that everyone, single or partnered, decides to become a parent for intrinsically selfish reasons, but that being a parent is in fact the opposite.
It’s also normalised difficult decisions I’ve had to make along the way. Like me Mikki started out as a single mum living far away from her family. When her daughter was four she moved back to where her family live so she’d have their support. When I first read the book I remember thinking I wouldn’t do that, I’d be independent – but I ended up doing exactly the same.
Why you should read the book
Mikki Morrisette also runs the premiere site for single mothers by choice, ChoiceMoms.org, so she was able to interview hundreds of SMCs to create this considered book. It reflects all of their experiences, as well as her own.
The book is divided into five stages, so there’s something for you whatever stage of the journey you are at. In fact, writing this has prompted me to re-read the day-to-day parenting pages of the book.
- Typical inner conflicts (including ‘Can I handle it?’, ‘Can I afford it?’ & ‘Grieving the Childhood Dream’)
- Is it fair to the child?
- Choosing the method – covering using a known donor, unknown donors or choosing to adopt.
- Day-to-day parenting – how to deal with stress, how to answer the daddy question, confronting identity issues.
- The legacy of choice including a chapter on how the kids of choice mums turn out that features interviews with children of SMCs.
“The goal of a single parent is not to raise our children alone. The goal is to consciously create the village in which we and our children will thrive.”
While ‘Choosing Single Motherhood‘ could do with updating and has a US focus, the essence of the SMC journey is the same now and wherever you are in the world.
I was in Australia when I took my first steps into what felt like uncharted territory – no-one else I knew had had a baby by themselves – and this book came heavily recommended by the women in an SMC support group.
Reading about the hundreds of women who have gone before me on this unconventional journey, was transforming and reassuring. It turned something I was feeling predominantly negative about into a positive step towards the life I wanted.
As a result I feel proud of myself for taking the path less travelled, and I know my life is far richer because I did.
If you’d like to get your own copy of the book, click here to buy it on Amazon.
Have you read the book? What do you think? Is there another book about being a single mother by choice that you’d recommend?