There’s No Shame In Being An Unmarried Mom

by Caila Smith
Originally Published: 

My partner and I have been together for almost six years, and we aren’t married. And in case you’re wondering, no, we aren’t ashamed of it either.

What is it about unmarried moms that compels total strangers to ask if their kids all belong to the same biological father? I mean, what is that?

Do I have the words, “Please ask me about my personal life” tattooed on my forehead? Because unless I partook in some spin-off of The Hangover, I don’t think so.

In avoidance of this off-color question, I usually refer to my fiancé — the father of my children — as my husband.

Because for whatever reason, married moms don’t face this unseemly, arrogant inquiry nearly as often as unmarried moms. And not that I should care if someone thinks all of my children are my fiance’s as well, but I do.

I care because I’m proud of where my kids come from. And just as I want everyone to know they are mine, I want everyone to know they are his too. Therefore, he carries the early title, husband. And he does it mighty fine, if I do say so myself.

On the rare occasion our little white lie is debunked, I don’t feel ashamed. If I did, I would’ve insisted on eloping the second I was scolded with pursed lips and an, “I feel awful sorry for those kids of yours.”

But instead, I laughed directly in the naysayer’s face while reminding her this is the 21st century. Not only that, but my illegitimate love children are dearly loved, thank you very much.

We aren’t holding off on the I-do’s due to lack of optimism or excitement. Truthfully, we are waiting because we are among the working poor, and we have a lot of kids.

We aren’t so poor that we don’t get to enjoy the little pleasures in life, and our family has everything we could need. But financially, the wedding we want (er, I want) does not fit within our budget.

And that’s the thing, it’s our wedding. We (again, maybe more I) want it to be just right. So why should we settle for less? Why should we rush just because we did things differently? We shouldn’t. That is backwards thinking, and a plain old, back-in-the-day, religious mindset.

I don’t say that lightly either. I am a Christian through and through. But I refuse to believe Jesus looks down on me in a dirty way because I’m not hitched. He knows my heart, and He knows that it is imperfectly pure. Thankfully, my God says, “Come to me.” Not, “Come to me all ye married and put together.”

It seems the religious folks (the ones who always have their undies in a wad) are the first ones to dish out the ugly snarls on unmarried mothers, too. And sometimes, their shame game speaks louder in silence.

Like the three times I announced my pregnancies, and some unholy-rollers left me standing there in the dark, without so much as a seemingly forced “Congratulations” to end the conversation.

Awkward, for sure. But for you religious folks, I have one, familiar question: WWJD? Because I don’t think he’d leave me standing alone at the well.

To give up what I desire for my wedding in order to gain approval from judgmental strangers would be an injustice to the little girl inside me. The one who envisions a lace, floor length dress and long, spiral curls.

So no, we don’t have any wedding plans yet. And no, I am not ashamed. I’m proud. Because I’m raising children who do not blindly conform to social norms. Who I am, in this moment, is good enough.

All is well with my soul.

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