Why I’m NOT a single mother by choice

Why I'm NOT a single mother by choice | choosing single motherhood, choice mom, choice mum, single mother, single mum, single mom, solo mum, solo parenting, single parent, single woman

Let’s get one thing straight. Despite how it might appear, I am not a single mother by choice.

For those who don’t know, that’s how the particular way I became a mother is often referred to. But it’s not a label I’m comfortable with.

Choice implies preference. Choice implies having a range of options to CHOOSE from. Neither of those applies to how I became a single mother.

I didn’t have freedom of choice. At 38, my fertile days were fast diminishing. I’d been dating since I was 16 and hadn’t met Mr Right yet. What were the chances of him coming along in the next couple of years?

Besides, even if I had met someone it could be a couple of years before we were ready to have kids.

I wasn’t prepared to take that kind of risk.

So it was either become a single mother or risk never becoming a mother at all. And never was something I wasn’t prepared to contemplate, not without having done everything I could first.

So there was only one path I could take.

I chose to use a sperm donor rather than adopt. I chose to have IVF. But I didn’t CHOOSE to do it all alone.

I’m proud of myself for going after what I wanted, for envisioning a future where I was a mother. I willed it, and it became. I built it, and she came.


What I wanted, what I CHOSE, was to be in a loving relationship, to share the parenting journey with someone. It’s the path I chose to pursue for 38 years of my life. Relentlessly. Painfully. Unsuccessfully.

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But that door never opened.

I won’t get into the whys and wherefores here – that’s a whole separate post about our society and the changing role of men and women in it.

Let’s just say that none of the men I was with in my twenties and thirties wanted to become a parent. Not when they were with me anyway.

If the men in my life had been up for it, I’d have happily started popping out babies in my twenties.

(Ok I can’t resist the whys and wherefores. The picture the Daily Mail paints of my generation being ambitious women who forgot to have children because they were so busy pursuing their careers is a big lie – like so much of the ‘Hate’ Mails’ content.

It’s a lie that conveniently overlooks the male contribution to this modern social phenomenon. A phenomenon that means I have at least three close friends who despite their best efforts to find a more conventional family life have also either become a single mum or are seriously considering it.)


By 38 I felt my back was against the wall. I was flogging a dead horse in the dating world, and I didn’t want to force fatherhood on any Tom, Dick or Harry that came my way.

But most of all I didn’t want to risk never knowing what it was like to carry a child inside me. To feel my daughter or son stirring inside me. To have known that unique physical bond with another human being.

Going it alone, was the last resort. It was a path of action I wrestled with for years, and for a long time, I refused to accept it was something I might have to do.

Me? Could this really be happening to me? I still wrestle with it. I still wake up occasionally and feel hurt and angry that I was forced to go it alone.

So no, single motherhood wasn’t my CHOICE.

I realise that not all childless single women in their late thirties, faced with the end of their fertile years take the path I’ve taken. Maybe my friends who are still thinking about it won’t follow suit.

So yes, in that respect I did make a choice.

I chose action instead of inaction. I chose MOTHERHOOD. The single part of it was just circumstantial.

I didn’t see why I should miss out on motherhood because I’d been unlucky enough to be attracted men who weren’t ready for commitment. It could so easily have been otherwise.

I’d given it my best shot. I hadn’t done anything better or worse than my friends and contemporaries who by hook or by crook found themselves married with kids.

I felt powerless to make Plan A a reality so Plan Z became my way of making lemonade from the lemons life had dealt me.

It was a way of regaining control over my life, to make sure the thing I wanted most in life – to be a mother – didn’t pass me by.


I’ve heard narrow-minded people call women who ‘choose’ single motherhood selfish, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Aside from the fact that any journey to parenthood starts with a selfish desire, being a parent is the total opposite of selfish.

For me, parenting has turned self-centredness on its head. I longed for my life to be about more than just me. And as a parent you have to put someone else first nearly all of the time.

You walk around with your heart beating outside your body. 


Solo parenting isn’t all bad, it has its advantages – a double bed you can share with your child whenever you like for starters – and most of the time I don’t sit around worrying about what we lack.

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But I’ll always feel sad that I missed out on sharing the parenting experience with someone. Of seeing my beloved in my child’s eyes, mannerisms or personality. Of knowing we’re irrevocably connected by the little person we created.

And of course, my daughter will never know a father’s love. But I feel that lack more than she does. I’ve known a father’s love, but she never has, so she doesn’t miss it.

(Not yet, anyway. I’m waiting for the day when she yells, ‘You such a mean mummy, I wish I had a daddy!’)

She’s still only six, so maybe as she gets older there’ll be more questions to answer, more gaps to fill in for her. But, don’t we all, no matter our origins, have questions, gaps, or worse?

We’re all just doing our best with the cards life dealt us, and becoming a parent isn’t a responsibility I took lightly.

It took a HUGE amount of thought, effort and resources to bring my daughter into the world. Far more than most parents ever put into their journey to parenthood.

But it’s a journey I took out of necessity, not choice.

If you’re a ‘single mother by choice’ or considering becoming one, how do you feel about the SMC label? Does it bother or you? Maybe you did CHOOSE single motherhood, or perhaps like me, you felt it the only option left?


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  1. I love this… because I’m already contemplating it at nearly 35. Thank you for this blog post! I will be reading through the rest of your blog soon!

    1. Thanks Leigh. I hope you’ve found the blog helpful. I’m going to be writing more about being a single mother by choice so do keep checking back. (ps. sorry for slow response! holidays etc – just catching up with blog comments now!)

  2. I’m not so bothered by the label. I guess in my heart I know how and why I came to this point and it’s exactly for the same reasons as you. However I feel ultimately we did choose to be single mothers as opposed to not being mothers at all. I have a few single friends who just wouldn’t contemplate going it alone and i guess that would have been the alternative choice. As they approach their mid 40s and beyond it’s more and more unlikely they will carry their own child, but that is their choice. Ive never really felt the term connotes that I’ve never ever wanted to parent with a partner. If anything I see that it highlights that I wasn’t pregnant by an ex and then left high and dry to parent solo, which is the usual portrayal of a single mother. That I chose for whatever reason to become a mother without a partner involved. Having said all that I tend to refer to myself as a Solo Mum. I guess that has its connotations too, but it’s a quick 2 syllable word before Mum. I only offer the term to correct assumptions there is a Dad somewhere and I think the word Mum is still the prominent part of that phrase.

    1. Bo (sorry, I only just saw this!) – I totally get what you’re saying. And I agree to some extent. Because yes, lack of action is a choice as much as choosing to take the action we have is –
      the choice to remain childless or the choice to take on motherhood alone. I think when I first started this journey I met a few women who WERE choosing it over meeting the right man. And some who was so strident about being an SMC that it came across as as man-hating or a least man-alienating. That made me feel like distancing myself from the SMC label I suppose. It feels like it tells a story that isn’t mine. ‘Single by chance, mother by choice’ is my preferred description, but it’s not one to drop into casual introduction! Anyway, thank you so much for reading and commenting.

  3. Victoria Nilsson says:

    Very eye opening. You are a good mummy and a strong woman. I became a mum at 30, and feel like i “nearly missed the boat” There is a lot of pressure nowadays. I agree that the roles of men and women have changed. thank you for sharing x

    1. You’re so kind Victoria, and yes the pressure is REAL. Thank you so much for reading.

  4. I’m just starting the process of trying to become a mom. I’ve put my foot on the path and its really helpful and inspiring to read your words. You explain exactly what I’m feeling. Thankyou. Rx

    1. Oh I’m so glad to hear that Rachel! My hope, in writing the post, is that it would resonate with any woman who finds herself in the same position. It’s not an easy place to be, but you are far from alone. Wishing you the best of luck on your journey. xx

  5. Hi thanks for the post, I’m just starting to looking into this. At 35 and still single not for lack of trying I am just starting my research. I am a little worried about the whole thing. I was meant to be the girl to get married young and looked like I have it all figured out in my twenties but it didn’t work out too well

  6. Thank you for this, I’m less than 3 months from 35 and my dreams of being married with a partner ready to have a child hasn’t come true. However, what I know deeply and truly is that I want a child. I’ve been doing my research looking into how to handle it since I don’t have a family support system. I don’t see many of things on being an executive, a single mom by choice and no family. I’m sure others are out there but I’m ready for this next chapter.

  7. I am turning 38 soon and have just left a relationship of three years, two of those TTC and failing, because I realised I was ignoring my own health and happiness (and my exes) in the pursuit of becoming a mother. I realise that trying to control things to the extent I was, was making us both unhappy and driving us apart. But also that I was pretending the man I was with was the “right” man and that could/would change, to become a great partner and father. I think deep down I always knew it was not right and that was why my body kept rejecting pregnancy after pregnancy. I have decided that this is a journey I need to do alone, and it just feels so right. I have booked my IVF in 3 months time (I want some more time to heal and mourn the kind of family I always dreamed of)! This article resonated so much for me. Thank you!

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