I chose the name “Anna” for my daughter before I even got pregnant. And because I got pregnant via a donor, no one else got a say. When I hear other parents talk about how they decided on a name with their partner, I can’t relate to the situation at all. I can’t imagine discussing baby names with another person, and all the disagreements and compromises that come with that decision.
Indeed, the thing I love most about being a single parent is not having to check with anyone else before I make decisions for my now four-year-old daughter. I like being able to be spontaneous with Anna. People close to me might dispute this: I’m an obsessive planner, yet don’t always follow through on said plans. But, in part because I work freelance from home, my time is quite flexible. My daughter and I travel well together, which is remarkable given that we do it on a very small budget. Because I don’t drive, and can’t afford more costly methods of travel, like flying, we often take overnight buses—sometimes with elaborate five-transfer routes for places that are only two hours away. While this isn’t my preferred mode of travel, I love that we can just get up and do it when it works.
Independence is the norm for me. It was required of me when I was still a child due to my family situation, and, by the time I was 16, I’d moved out of the house. Making conventionally unpopular choices is common for me. Letting Anna sleep in and stay home from school so she can colour isn’t on the same level as moving out as a teen, but it’s still one I get to make, and I love getting to make it alone.
Admittedly, being the sole decision maker can be strange at times. It’s odd to realize that no one else knows where we are at any given time. If Anna and I get trapped in a downpour or snowstorm, or if we’re out particularly late one night, it’s only us who know. Much as I like not asking another adult what they want for dinner, when I make a particularly nice meal for me and Anna, it always seems weird that no one else knows it’s happened. (Single parenting in the age of Instagram solves the latter problem, mind you.)
One thing I often hear from other single parents is “I wish I had another person to make decisions with, or bounce ideas off of.” I don’t feel this way at all. If Anna’s teacher speaks to me about an issue at school, for example, I alone get to choose how to respond to it. Maybe one day a problem or situation will arise where I’ll feel in over my head, desperate for a second opinion. But right now, I see not having one as a perk of single parenthood.
I’ve made all the important decisions alone—her name, what school she’ll go to, where we travel—but I also enjoy making the smaller, spur-of-the-moment decisions, like what we’ll have for dinner. Sometimes we want pie, so that’s what we have.
Tara-Michelle Ziniuk is a Toronto-based queer mom to a four-year-old. She started off as a single-mom-by-choice, and now co-parents. You can read more of her posts here and follow her on Twitter @therealrealTMZ.