I teach high school in an urban district. After 13 years of teaching, I have taught thousands of teens. I have seen every family combination under the sun. I have to admit that intact, two-parent households with no divorces, stepparents, half-siblings, or other combinations are not the norm. So I know I’m not the only single parent out there. Still, sometimes I can’t help feeling as though I’m the only single-and-the-father-isn’t-in-the-picture pregnant woman around.
The many pregnancy books I’ve been reading haven’t helped my feelings. Every one of them assumes I am happily married. Well, in truth, one tells me that if I’m not married, as I read I should substitute “boyfriend,” “co-parent,” or “significant other” in place of “husband.” Another book tells me that I can just skip the parts referring to my husband if I’m not married. A third includes all the same information about my partner, but refers to him as the baby’s father throughout. I find this frustrating because, well, nobody’s going to be rubbing my shoulders to help reduce my stress, running to the store for a pint of ice cream at midnight, or taking me on a babymoon vacation when I reach five months!
While the baby’s father is not going to be a part of this pregnancy, I cannot totally avoid him either. For one reason, we have mutual friends. And also, when I thought our relationship was going to last, I made some decisions about car payments and car loans that now mean the two of us still have to be in contact. So, despite our situation, I have seen him several times since the big fight where I insisted on keeping the baby. He is cordial, polite, and even friendly.
At first I thought it was really strange that he made no mention whatsoever about the baby or pregnancy. I decided that since he didn’t want to be involved, he was choosing to stay as uninvolved as possible. But as time has passed, I think maybe it’s deeper than that. He stopped by the other day with a car payment, and he saw one of my pregnancy books on the couch. He said, “Why are you reading that?” I was dumbfounded. Was he serious? I finally stammered, “Why am I reading it?” He changed the subject. As far as I can tell, he is, at this point, pretending that I am simply not pregnant.
So, I do not think the same books that advise fathers-to-be to bring home flowers for no reason and be patient with their wives’ mood swings are also aimed at me.
On one hand, I know that I am not alone in being a single mother from the very start. But on the other hand, where are the other voices and perspectives? Why do I feel like I’m the only one with out a partner?
I know God wants me to have this baby, and I know I have friends and family who will support me through this. But the truth is that even knowing those things to be true doesn’t always change how I’m feeling.