Many women today are bucking tradition by not taking the conventional wife-then-mother path. We’ve featured women who don’t want kids and women who don’t want marriage; now, we talk to women who do want kids—even if marriage isn’t in the cards.
The Philippine Statistics Authority states that, in the 10-year span from 2008 to 2017, the reported number of marriages in the country dropped by 10.6 percent. At the same time, 53.3 percent of the total registered live births in 2017 were out of wedlock, compared to 37.5 percent in 2008. These trends are not surprising. Besides many young people today choosing to marry later in life or shack up first before marriage, some might view the institution of marriage with cynicism after having seen their own relationships and those of the people around them fall apart. Meanwhile, women are coming into their own in a time that's increasingly more accepting of out-of-wedlock births—it’s easier to see that if the relationship with the baby daddy sours, there’s always the option to go it alone.
Besides natural conception, women who really want to become mothers have adoption to consider, or if they have the money to spare, fertility treatments. Regardless of how women become mothers, what matters is they want to be mothers, which puts them in a better position to bring up kids who are loved. A 2017 study by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology has found that children in single-mother-by-choice families do just as well as those in heterosexual two-parent families, with the aid of a good social support network.
It is interesting to note that in pre-colonial Philippines, being an unmarried mother wasn’t cause for disgrace. The Ayala Museum, in a series of tweets based off the book Kasaysayan: The Story of the Filipino People Vol. 2 by Mary John Mananzan, reveals: “Virginity was not a value and children were treated the same way. Unwed mothers were not shamed. Husband and wife were equal, with divorce being practiced.”
Below, hear from five Pinays who are willing to be solo parents if a husband doesn’t enter the picture, or are already mothers yet don’t feel the need to be legally bound to a partner as such.
It’s complicated, but mostly single
“For three decades, I naively believed in the dream of the White Picket Fence, the one in the stick figure drawing featuring mommy, daddy, and a little kid magnetically tacked to the refrigerator—bonus if there’s a dog in the background.
This modern dating world has been a double-edged sword that brought with it both incredible joy and unbearable pain.
“I was lucky enough to have grown up with the fence, the dog, and the parents who were both so smitten with each other, and with me, well into their old age. Blame it on too many repeat screenings of all the Disney movies ever made, or growing up Catholic, but this stereotype was LIFE GOALS. Sure, I had a good education and a cool career that I genuinely loved, but at the time, those things seemed secondary to the White Picket Fence Fantasy.
“That dream is now buried in the deepest recesses of my mind. This modern dating world has been a double-edged sword that brought with it both incredible joy and unbearable pain. Truth be told, fun as it is to have tons of options out there, options are exhausting.
“Two years ago, I moved abroad, and I’ve been working for a ballet school for almost a year now. Living overseas where casual dating is the norm confirmed that times are changing, and that White Picket Fence is a dated fantasy. I see the students’ parents at the ballet school, and while there are the more traditional nuclear family models, more often than not there are single moms and dads, parents with shared custody who alternate showing up to class, same-sex parents, kids with different last names and skin colors than their guardians... Also, seeing all these adorable little boys and girls in tutus sends my ovaries into overdrive. It might seem silly, but slowly, I started to believe that in that stick figure drawing of my past, the kid was what I wanted more than the dad.
“I see this new perspective not as a shattered dream, but as a new, alternative reality that brings with it new challenges, but also thrilling possibilities. I’m not saying no to marriage, but rather, adapting to societal change and reorganizing my priorities.”
Single; with one child
“Love is a word often used loosely. Commitment is no longer an assurance; rather, a question. We have romanticized romance so much that we get too excited to fall in love, yet we don’t have any clue how to keep that love.
I have seen that happen firsthand, when a person has often said he loves me, but he cannot make me happy because he is too wrapped up in the idea of his own happiness.
“At a young age, I found myself to be ‘in love.’ Movies and stories show two people falling in love and living together forever. Thinking that was the case, I dared to move mountains. Sadly, mountains are immovable great forces.
“In a world where ‘love’ has often been used loosely, people forget what love is in essence. I have seen that happen firsthand, when a person has often said he loves me, but he cannot make me happy because he is too wrapped up in the idea of his own happiness.
“Marriage is a chain of endless questions. You continue to ask every day if the love still burns. In his constant ‘I love yous,’ will he still love you in the morning after? It’s scary.
“But let me tell you one secret: Having a child and loving him with everything that you’ve got, that is the love you fight tooth and nail for. Seeing someone so precious coming from you, maybe that’s the kind of love you wouldn’t mind being stuck with forever.”
In a relationship
“It would be nice to have the typical family as dictated by socio-cultural norms, one complete with a married set of parents and kids. But having grown up for the most part with my mom, I’ve realized that people don’t have to get married just to have kids, or stay married just for the kids. There’s such a thing as co-parenting where both parties are hands-on in their kids’ lives even if they’re not married, or even if they’re separated.
I do want to have a kid, but it is a greater priority for me to be a good provider even on my own than to lock down a partner just so I have someone to share the responsibility with.
“I do want to have a kid, but it is a greater priority for me to be a good provider even on my own than to lock down a partner just so I have someone to share the responsibility with. Growing up, my mom taught me that if and when I decide to have a family, the important thing is that I’m financially independent, so that whatever happens, I can provide for myself and my kid the way she was able to for me.
“I’m not closing my doors on marriage. But as of now, as someone who has always had a soft spot for kids, I see myself more as a mom than as a wife.”
“I was 16 years old when I had my first serious relationship. I went through two more of the same kind and a few flings before I reached this state of mind. My journey to this sort of thinking did not just happen because of my own experiences, but also through observations of what people have become in relationships.
It is upon realizing where deep love comes from that I decided to not necessarily get married, but to definitely have kids of my own.
“Modern society is seeing less of couples who stay committed till death do them part. When ‘I love you’ is uttered now, you can no longer take it at face value; it could simply be empty words. Or you may feel the real thing at the beginning of a romantic relationship, only to lose the feeling along the way. When the kilig is over and your hormones simmer down, what happens?
“It is upon realizing where deep love comes from that I decided to not necessarily get married, but to definitely have kids of my own. Your partner can legally separate from you, file for divorce or annulment, but you can never change the fact that your blood runs through your child.
“Give your children enough love, and in the future, they will carry that love forever and you shall reap what you sow. This, I know, is true love.”
In a relationship; with one child
“I was raised by a single mom and a single grandmom, and I grew up as an only child. I had a different mindset back then. Getting married someday was one of my dreams.
I had realized that if I wasn’t going to be married, I wanted someone in my life still—a kid.
“I had been in relationships with a few men who turned out to be abusive emotionally or physically, or turned out to be a cheater. I fell for the father of my daughter, and while it was an obsessive, possessive, abusive type of relationship, I felt like I could never love someone as much as I did him.
“I eventually got pregnant with him. But while I sort of planned on having a child, it didn’t have to be with him. I had realized that if I wasn’t going to be married, I wanted someone in my life still—a kid.
“Don’t get me wrong; it’s still nice to have someone to take care of you, to cuddle with and such. I am in fact in a relationship with someone else right now, but I’m not really into marriage. Aside from sparing myself the trouble of marrying the wrong person, I just can’t trust anyone that easily ever again, especially since I have a daughter now.
“I’m not saying I won’t eventually get married down the line, but it’s not on my list—at least for now. I’d rather have kids than settle for something that I don’t know will last. It’s just too much to gamble.
“I just don’t think marriage is for everyone.”