I am an unmarried mom, in a committed relationship.
The Chief and I live happily together in mortal sin, and our two year old daughter is blissfully unaware her parents are going to burn in the fiery depths of hell because of her creation. Although, we were already screwed by the very nature of making her outside the marital bed anyway.
We have been driving each other crazing for over a decade. We live, travel, and work together. There might be some boundary issues, but our current focus is on raising our daughter together.
If you saw us walking down the street, you’d think we were a “real” family. The whole package, with wedding rings and shared life insurance policies. But you’d be wrong. Because we’re not married. And we don’t have any plans to be.
The questions started, politely at first.
“You’re going to get married before you start to show, right?” (I do not need a ring on my finger to push a baby out of my hoo-ha. Believe you me, women have been doing it, sans ring, since Mary Magdalene.)
“Well, now you have to get married.” (Well, of course we do, since you said so. Let me call the minister right now. Just hold your breath until I get back.)
“Doesn’t it bother you that you’re not married?” (Wouldn’t I be married if it did?)
The award for most inappropriate marriage question goes to the tall, thin, husband hunting divorcee. She opened her big, botoxed piehole at a party while I was happily pregnant, surrounded by married mamas. (Cue nickname “Piehole.” Names changed to protect the guilty.)
“Oh. My. Gosh. You must be so excited about this baby!!!”
I smiled demurely, nodded, and rubbed my belly lovingly. Carry on. Discussing anything baby is my forte. I am obsessed.
“So, when are you guys going to tie the knot?”
I answer with the usual, “No plans to marry. We’ve been together a long time, and we’re both committed.” I diplomatically add since pregnant, “I’m sure we will eventually. But at this point, we’re going to wait to see if it’s important to our little girl.”
A look of confusion crosses Piehole’s face. Pregnant pause (come on, puns are fun!), followed by:
“But you don’t want your child to be a bastard, do you?”
Screeching tires. Snapping heads. Sloshing wine glasses. Hold the phone. What did she just say?!
In hindsight, there were many comebacks. I, however, am not a witty person and sat silently, shell-shocked.
But Piehole was not finished.
“Just imagine how your kid will feel when she walks into school the first day of kindergarten and Teacher gets her last name wrong. And she has to explain in front of her class that mommy and daddy don’t love each other enough to get married. You’ll pick her up and she’ll be sobbing and hate you. You don’t want to do that to happen, do you? I just don’t think it’s fair to make her a bastard.”
(Side note: I am paraphrasing, but I have to hand it to Piehole – she really set the scene for my daughter’s future emotional trauma. Talk of her cute little backpack weighing her down, coupled with guilt and shame, and tears coursing down plump, rosy cheeks. It was inspiring, really.)
Cue Witty Comeback Girl. No, it wasn’t me. Sadly, I’m not quick enough. The gathered Marrieds studied the bottom of their suddenly drained wine glasses and strained to listen without looking.
“Well, I think we can all agree that marriage doesn’t work for everyone. After all, Piehole, haven’t they been together longer than your first two marriages…combined?” Smile, sip, and segue into meaningless chatter.
Game, Set, Match. Piehole, you’ve been served.
I tell that story to illustrate there are many enemies of the Unmarried Mom. I never would have thought a twice divorced mom would be the one to judge my life decisions.
Please, don’t get me wrong. If marriage is important to you, kudos. Honest. I will happily attend your wedding and cry tears of joy through the ceremony. I really do wish you the best. And I solemnly swear to buy you an awesome, handcrafted wedding gift off Etsy, that magical little wedding fairies blessed prior to wrapping.
Every morning I have to re-commit to making my relationship work. I can’t rely on a piece of paper to keep my partner from walking out the door. We have issues. Who doesn’t? But you’ll find an Unmarried Mom’s issues look just like yours. They just don’t involve white dresses or court decrees. So the next time you see a ringless mom, pretend she’s just like you. Because chances are, she is.