So It’s Not Just Me…

This is your Monday morning controversy post. Keep it interesting for longer by waiting an hour or so before posting your comment. Oh, and behave.

It’s not really a creative idea. There have been communes of spinster women before. But I really thought there were only a few of us frum women with that idea floating around…

It’s like this: you’re single, you’re not in any danger of getting engaged. You want a family, a cute little kid or two to call your own,  and someone you like to help you raise them, but you can’t find a guy to join up with you.

On the other hand, you know plenty of girls who want families too, a kid or two and a partner in life.

Of course you know the difficulties of being a single mother. It’s pretty crazy to try to raise a kid on your own while keeping house and paying bills. A person really needs a little help with that.

So, the world is full of floating halves. All these women, just like you, who just want to settle down. Why not pair up with one of them? Or two?

Granted, it’s not romantic, but you’re not doing so well in the romance department as it is. You’ll be good friends, you’ll look out for each other, you’ll raise a few kids together in a dual-(or triple)-parent household. You can argue IVF versus adoption after you’ve found a house with enough bedrooms in a community far enough out of town that they’ll be willing to overlook the weirdness of your domestic situation.

Why this now? Well, it’s an idea that floats across my mind every now and then and that I occasionally pitch to parties who are in Despair Mode. I would say I get an 80% You-Are-Crazy response rate even from the I’m-going-to-be-single-forever types. For a while I wavered and thought that perhaps I was crazy. (Could it be?)

Then one Shabbos someone pitched the same exact idea to me. Talk about the happiest moment of the week! If I was crazy, at least I was in good company. But the anecdotal evidence in the comments of FnF’s post about skipping to motherhood suggest that there are a number of people who think this way all the time. They’re just too jealous of their reputation as non-crazy to admit it.

So come out of the woodwork, folks. Maybe we can buy out a residential complex. The more of us there are, the less weird it becomes.

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53 thoughts on “So It’s Not Just Me…

  1. Great idea, and next door we’ll move in the men who couldn’t find their women. We’ll then swap everyone around like musical chairs until everyone is in a relationship.

  2. saw an article on AOL news about how more women should be dumping men who treat them badly, and how they generally stay in bad marriages. this concept is older than the gemara, but maybe now it will be properly addressed and remedied. and maybe there will now be an evolutionary need for men to learn their lesson, when before there wasn’t.

    randomer- why will that work better than it does now in singles’ communities?

  3. You want to talk “Bad for Shidduchim”?
    Following through on this idea would probably top the “points” chart…..

  4. I will respond to this email as if you are serious and have not completely lost it. I do not relate to your stuggle of being so “old” (25?) and “gasp” not being married. Even in your parody of the situation, there is a little desperation to even jokingly suggest this. There is a real simple reason why this doesn’t work. Assuming that you are not in to members of the same sex, ultimately you will want to find a life partner that is from the other gender. While it may be nice to have a “family” and kids for a couple of years and then moving into a normal relationship, by doing this you will be ultimately harming and decreasing your chances for a normal/healthy marriage.

    Additionally, it is very hard to have and run a normal/healthy marriage and family. It takes a lot of work and effort. Part of they way that marraiges work is because you deeply care and love your life partner. You are discussing an arrangement devoid of this and basically an arrangement of convenience so people can try and have a little piece of what married coupls with kids have. Sorry, it just doesn’t work like that – it is one big package (and this doesn’t event discuss the necessity of a physical component in relationships) and you need true life commitment.

    Perhaps if someone has really given up on finding someone else there may be something to your idea – but does someone ever really give up on finding happiness?

  5. This made me laugh. I totally know what you mean.Although…as bad as blogging may be for shidduchim, this post is even worse 😉 !

  6. You raise an interesting issue to which I think women can better relate to than men. Biologically, I think women are more likely to appreciate offspring more for what they are, rather than what they represent. What they represent to many men and women is the manifestation of their relationship to one another — a lifelong project on which they jointly toil.

    The question: Is the maternal instinct “stronger” than paternal? My guess is yes. They are more willing to adopt or take more drastic artificial measures or assume personal risk to have children.

    As to your idea for a community of mothers, I know you’re mostly musing out loud — hey, we just have the privilege of listening in — but there is a kernel of honesty, frustration and daydreaming here. To which I say: trade places with a young mother for a week, then get back to us :>) The idea of a baby, or a husband, or a female housemate, may suddenly be unappealing.

    Enjoy your singlehood while you can.

  7. This was just mentioned in NYT magazine – some sort of seagull does this. Not so original.

  8. Ari – by that logic, nobody should bother getting married at all, or having children. One assumes it’s worth it. Besides – female housemates are common enough. Have you checked out a singles community recently? People don’t live alone anyway. So if you found someone you liked, why not set up house for real?

    Lea – some sort of seagull does what? The females get together to raise their kids together?

    Miriam – yuck. Someone else’s kids? You don’t really have authority in that case anyway. That’s not a taste of motherhood – it’s a taste of servitude.

    Everyone else: obviously, this would only kick in once you’ve given up on getting married and will settle for pretty much anything. That should answer a number of objections. I should have clarified that in the description. “Does someone ever really give up on finding happiness?” Sometimes they should, so they can seek elsewhere.

    >>Part of they way that marraiges work is because you deeply care and love your life partner.<<

    True – these days, anyway. But for arguments sake: loveless marriages are a far older institution. Moreover, it is common for people to treat their friends better than their family because family is stuck with you while friends are not.

    oy vey vey – hey! That means it's time for ice cream! *breaks out the double fudge and rocky road* Anyone for sugar cones?

  9. I have heard that when men leave their wives without giving them a get and they cannot remarry they do something similar to this.

  10. While I am not a single 23 year old, I do not yet have children and the though of raising children on my own without my husband with me scares the bejeezus out of me.

    Furthermore, I find the entire concept beyond selfish. Children need both a female and male presence in their life, and women who have children on their own are doing a serious disservice to their offspring. Don’t go and give me all the BS about how a single woman can raise a child better than a bad set of parents – save it. The optimal way to raise a child is with both a mother and father and as a true parent you should try your hardest to do the best by them. To become a single mother because “you just want one so badly” is the epitome of selfish behavior – satisfying your maternal instinct by sacrificing the welfare of your child.

    And I’m not even beginning to touch on the absolute horror this would be for the frum Jewish child once he’s old enough to understand where he came from – or more accurately, where he didn’t.

    Sorry Bad4, I know this was in jest, but this is a definite sore point with me.

  11. B4S – Yes, yes – of course people want housemates, spouses and children. It’s a healthy social instinct. I’m just saying that most men would never think of having a child without a spouse. For men, children are representative of a relationship, whereas for some women, they appreciate the idea of having a child in and of itself, and do not need it to reflect a shared project with a significant other. It’s interesting that this community-of-women-concept isn’t really contemplated by men, even in passing, and even if they are resigned to bachelorhood and decrepitude.

    Now, if that significant other happens to be a woman, making it a single-gender couple, that’s a whole different parshah that I’m not qualified to deal with.

  12. I actually knew a “couple” of divorced moms that got a place together… so truth is, there are plenty of single moms out there – just move in w/ them.. I mean a widow would sure appreciate the help…. Plus, this way you could just write it off as “chesed” and you won’t ruin your reputation 🙂 You could also open a kibbutz 🙂

  13. You also asked if I was advising against a husband and child. Well, no, not exactly. I was merely suggesting that it’s not paradise 100% of the time, just as singlehood is not paradise 100% of the time. Just that there’s no rush. You’ll have plenty of time for responsibility when you meet the right person.

  14. this question was posed to Dr. Abraham (the author of Nishmas Avraham- the most prominent sefer on medicine in halacha) who asked R’ SZ Auerbach about it- He said that having IVF treatments just to have children (the case was a 37 year old woman) is assur. The Torah wants a child to be reared by a man and woman in a family context (barring divorce/death) and he brings a support to this from the passuk of “vehayu lebasar echad” which the meforshim explain to be a child (the genes mix together and form ‘one flesh’)
    He also says that such a child will come under suspicion of coming from the woman having illicit relations (which while single she is not a married woman, but she would be called a Kadeisha-harlot, and according to some the child would be a mamzer)

    Ask any reliable, accepted, posek and they will tell you the same thing. Besides, subjected your child to that stigma may alleviate your needs, but will hurt your child in the long run.

    oh, and i understand perfectly that the post was meant in (half) jest, but there are serious halachic implications for such an idea.

  15. I definitely get this craving sometimes; if I can’t find a suitable husband, why can’t I at least get a cute little baby? My sister actually has a friend (maybe 2?) who have made this decision and got IVF (or maybe adopted- but I doubt they’d be allowed to so fast) to have a baby once they gave up in their late 30s/40s on finding a spouse. I don’t know them, but I think they are frum, so I don’t know how they dealt with the halachic issues.

    When I’ve brought up this idea (in half-jest) to my mom, she’s always like- “who will take care of it when you’re in school? this will totally be like when you kids wanted a puppy- you say it’s a pet for you, but I’m the one who ends up taking care of it!”

    I was once (joke-) arguing with a girl I know who said if she got pregnant out of wedlock, she would insist on having an abortion. So we made a deal that I’ll adopt her baby if that happens, and of course my mom will take care of it when I’m in school 🙂

  16. yes, the nytimes did run an article on this. it wasn’t seagulls, it was albatross (es?). The females paired up to raise an egg and it was this whole mystery of which birds were the fathers. It was a weird article, but so is your post. It’s the men who should be thinking of this idea more than the women because they are the ones chayav to have kids, the women dont need to. So unless a girl’s maternal instinct is really overpowering…its interesting but I kind of doubt anyone would actually do this.

  17. It’s because, I think, men don’t have this desire as much as women to sire children that they are commanded to. I read in Rabbi Fohrman’s book (EXCELLENT read) that “tshuka” comes from the concept that complete beings are so whole that they wish to overflow and share themselves with others – women being complete, they wish to do so, while men, missing a rib, don’t have such a desire.

    Consider adoption? Better yet, the spinsters get together and run an orphanage. Less stigma.

  18. You are all too old to remember the show “Kate & Allie” – or maybe you weren’t allowed to watch TV 🙂

  19. i always just envision the how screwed up kids who have same sex mothers will grow up to be……….same thing here its a recipe for automatic child confusion of self and psychiatric issues.

  20. Pity that such a significant percentage of our daughters no longer have any clue as to the purpose and value of a husband, nor any interest in one save as an assistant in raising their primary familial relationship — children. Children depart in 18 years, but that is less than a third of the marriage’s lifespan. No wonder no men are rushing to marry our daughters. They see them without our rose colored glasses, and it is not a pretty sight.

  21. Princess Lea – Hey, wait. I thought that biologically men are driven to reproduce and leave something of themselves behind, hence why they tend to go a little nuts about being quite sure their kids are theirs. If anything, the reason men aren’t setting up communes is because they can’t produce their own kids, and they’re not much interested in adopting someone else’s.

    schoolgirl – I read that studies show that kids grow up okay as long as they have at least one good parent (and no rotten ones), preferably two, of whatever gender. Kids are more elastic then we give them credit for being. Of course, one has no idea who was behind said studies and what their agenda was.
    But either way, for a frum kid it would definitely be confusing. I can totally see them running off to dorm in a different city as teens, marrying someone straight and narrow, and never looking back. Oh wait, people from normal families do that too. *throws up hands* You can’t win.

    K – really? Whodathunk. That’s rather brave (not to mention crazy) of them. (Okay, I admit it. I think it’s crazy too.)

    Israel FRAC – wait, so what else are men good for? *scratches head* Seriously. If men aren’t running to marry girls, who are they marrying? And you’re quite lucky if your kids are gone at 18. My parents are still stuck with ones who are somewhat older.

  22. So my first thought was – cool! My sister and I have been wanting to do this for a while (while we’re at it, we’re planning on adopting a dog too). It’s unfortunate that social stigma prevents many women from doing something that could really make them happy. I am in the process of getting divorced, and I have to say that my baby definitely makes it all worthwhile. It’s true that a complete family unit (father + mother + baby) is probably the best way to raise a child – but believe me, there’s lots of ways that that can mess up a kid. Who is to say that you on your own can’t be the perfect mom? And if you can convince a few friends to join you, your kid won’t even feel like the odd man out! I understand those people who say that it’s unfair to a kid to do this to them- but there are so many kids out there who are in unhappy situations (adoption, foster homes, etc.) who can really benefit from having a good, happy, healthy home. And anyone who says that a woman can’t do it on their own- i would like them to come say it to my face. Of course I’m not giving up on love – I really want to get re-married too. I’m just saying that father + mother + kid is not the ONLY way that you can raise a healthy kid. And if anyone is really serious about this – I’m looking for a roommate…

  23. I find it utterly surprising that you would want to raise a child without a father. Ever heard of children having “daddy issues?” Well, raising them without a father involved is a great way to ensure they will be longing for a father figure their entire lives. I know you mean this in a joking manner, but it’s really not a joke. I don’t know who I would be without my father. He has been such a stronghold in my life, and with G-d’s help, I will give my children the same kind of Tatty. As I’m sure you’ve realized, children are not Cabbage Patch kids that one can throw in the closet when tired of them.

    Secondly,I don’t know how any man reading this blog could feel comfortable with such a post. Men, as far as I know, do not like to feel like the means of making a woman a Mommy. You can say they are all jerks and that none of them are mature enough to be in a healthy, happy marriage, but Hashem is in control, and you can either wholeheartedly believe it or traipse along from guy to guy wishing they were more what you want from them. Most of the girls who read this blog are only a few years older than I am. Am I going to sound like you in 2-3 years? I pray to G-d I don’t. Maybe I’m not deteerred by the children thing because I work with young children every day. Just wait til you have to drop everything you are doing at work to take your kid to the doctor; you will see it isn’t a job you want to do alone/with another emotionally stressed young lady.

  24. Bad4, are the instruction to wait an hour and behave mandatory? 😛

    I don’t really get it; if one where aiming for a romance-less and lonely existence then they should just have a “marriage of convenience.” Totally not unheard of and it carries fewer social and moral implications. Besides the fringe benefits are much better! 😉 (I mean from a financial and tax perspective… what did you think I meant?!?) And then the person in question can even con all their friends into giving them wedding presents. I think that’s probably the #1 reason why woman don’t do this: no wedding! 😛

    Princess Leah, after a post like this, maybe you shouldn’t give Bad4 advice from the animal kingdom, she might take after a polar beer or something! 😀

  25. Bad4- As always a thought provoking. Where do they make people like you 🙂 Seriously, do you exist outside of your blog? I have yet to meet someone remotely like you with your intelligence, sensitivity, and wit.

    feel like being anonymous today – There is a machlokes re: if men fulfill their obligation by artificial insemination. http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14398&st=&pgnum=9 Also see Chelkas mechokek 8.

    coralcap – Thank you for writing your concise and well written response. I think bad4 was projecting the sheer joy of being a mother at all the other times when the kid is not sick. Yes, sometimes I imagine it is hard (I am a single guy so this is all just guess work) but overall it definitely is worth it (Otherwise why is anyone inclined to do it more than once). Why can’t a mother be a strong hold for a kid as much as your father? Yeah it will be hard, and like other people said you need a male and female role model (though no one really explained why, what do each provide? I would guess that it really only is perfectly necessary in the stereotypes, but it is a good idea nonetheless) but why can’t a good portion come from a mother (why is this different than a kid raised by a divorced or widowed mother?

  26. Tzasfnas Paneach: Fathers leave, divorce happens and other such unfortunate occurrences.Some of the finest guys I have met come from “broken homes,” and I believe that their unfortunate life experiences drove them to become the upstanding fine young men they are today. However, deliberately choosing to raise a child without a father is not the same circumstance. Tell me, how will such a parent explain to their child why they did not raise him/her with a father? Do you think the child will appreciate or understand that it is because the parent was impatient or lost hope in ever getting married? Everyone else has a Daddy who plays catch with them. Everyone else has a Daddy’s lap to sit on when answering Parsha questions. A good portion can and usually does come from the mother because generally, the mother is the one home more often, but a father can have just as much impact if he takes his role seriously. The bottom line is, a divorced/widowed mother tried to give her children a good father, the single woman undergoing IVF did not.

  27. Very depressing indeed. Sounds like the most hollow marriages imaginable, wholly triangulating around children as the woman’s true sole interest. Even in the first third of marriage there seems no true focus and connection other than sex and impregnation, and then two thirds of life with an absolute stranger who has drifted completely apart in all interests, beliefs, ambitions and desires. By then hopefully you will have grandchildren to provide the necessary props to avoid any direct contact with one another.

  28. My kid is beautiful and spirited, yours is ugly and a brat, why should I take off from work when you haven’t housebroken your child. My career is on the line.

    Write your own dialogue. Communal living, is not all fun and games. The glue that keeps pairs together probably contains more than one chemical (or other) element. When people pair they work together because when one bond fails another is activated or compensates for the failed component.

    Kids are wonderful and they are unbelievable stress inducers.

    People may choose to room together, raising kids without some other component binding them is another story entirely.

  29. This post, and the comments, made me laugh. I’m just going to sit back and watch the mayhem. (Married with kid, can’t really comment- never wanted to do it alone, nor could I envision it- I mean- my husband is the one who gets her to sleep when I’ve lost all patience.)

  30. Pingback: Thought Question: If You Could, Would You? « Bad for Shidduchim

  31. I am sorry to be the one to ask this question, but: is such a thing as sex drive non-existent with the female gender? It’s all about emotional connection (and the whole purpose of sex is to enhance that), having a life partner, children, and a household?

  32. bad 4, I want to start off by saying that I am a 26 year old who is married with an almost two year old daughter. I cannot say that I have ever felt like giving up on finding a husband, but I can say that I think this is a very good idea for women who have given up.I think that two friends who care very much about each other can have a very happy family and home together.
    I read a blog about a 41 year old Jewish doctor who had treatments and eventually had a daughter by herself. She is very happy with her beautiful daughter. If you e-mail me, I can send you the link.

  33. Bad4, you mentioned that your parents are “stuck” with children older than 18 still at home. Is that the norm in your community? Do children still have to live at home even once they’ve completed their education and they’re employed?

  34. Anon – we’re not employed…
    In general, most people do stay at home, and that’s considered right and good. I would say most people stick around. However, every now and then a maverick moves out to Washington Heights for the social aspect. (Well, it’s not the scenery!)

  35. Ft Tryon park excepted. It is the loveliest place in the entire city. A study in contrasts with the residential neighborhoods around it. 😛

  36. haha…I’m ready for sugar cones–but not before finals! (Any free time I’m gonna have is gonna have to be used for dates–you know, all those guys that I get set up with around this time 😉 ). Oh, and I’ll take strawberry and cookie dough flavor.

  37. I was referring to Jewish Single Mom By Choice. I am really proud that there are women brave enough to make choices to make their lives more complete. She loves her daughter and I am sure they will both have a wonderful life. As long as a child is loved and cared for in a proper manner, the child will grow up with a good sense of self and a good self esteem. It does not matter is a child has one mother, two mothers, one father or two fathers.

  38. Why would you want to move in with a total stranger with whom you have nothing in common except that you both are single and have kids? What about family? Grandparents, aunts, uncles?

    A small correction: IVF is an intense, expensive, surgical procedure for women who are infertile. Women who are not infertile can often conceive using bought sperm for only a few hundred dollars a vial, using no or little medical assistance.

    The problem with bought sperm is that I believe it could be psychologically damaging for a kid not to know who its father is. (not always, but the potential is there.) or finding out that they have 50 siblings out there somewhere.

  39. Pingback: Link: All the Single Ladies – Someone Else’s Thoughts « Bad for Shidduchim

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