Early studies suggest that the children of single mothers by choice are just as well-adjusted as children of two-parent households. And yet having kids alone is hard, and expensive, and still too marginal a choice to be considered by a vast majority of women.
Nevertheless, sometimes I have the sneaking suspicion that in lots of ways it’s easier than the alternative. You make decisions more quickly. (There is nothing more satisfying to single parents than watching a couple with a baby try to arrive at a decision: “Should we take his temperature? What do you think? No, what do you think?”) No one’s career thrives at the expense of her or his other half’s, and there is no chance of a custody suit. There are no fights about who should get up in the middle of the night, because that person will always be me.
If these are Pyrrhic victories, they confer real psychological benefits. It takes a certain amount of courage to have a baby alone, and the relief of reaching the other side has never worn off. Being a single parent pushes you outward. I lean on my neighbors to a degree I never would have in a two-parent unit; my friends are family in deeper ways than they might otherwise have been. I have finally learned, at the age of 42, to ask for help.