Nobody’s Wives


There are a select few of us who are nobody’s wives, not exes, not-evers. Whether or not we’ve wanted to here and there, we’ve never white-dressed it. And yet we have children.

While this may seem on the whole to be a more and more common thing, if you are the person it’s happening to, if you have parents/grandparents/friends, if you’re over the age of say twenty five, if you’ve been on the pill for what feels like your entire adult life, if you have a great job but not even a boyfriend, well then, let’s just say you will likely experience your matriarchishness sans patriarchishness as a bit of a predicament.

Maybe it just didn’t work out between you and him. Maybe you don’t even know his last name. Maybe you’re Mary. Whatever the source, answering the curious questions of loved ones, colleagues, and total strangers can be a bummer. And it doesn’t end with the birth. Preschool teachers will want to know and you’ll share your family structure for the best interests of your child. Nurses will want to know, even when your child is not the issue for which you’ve sought medical treatment. Neighbors also have a need to ask, as do postal workers, ladies sitting next to you on the city bus, certainly everyone at church, and especially anyone on the PTA. As the non-traditional, non-nuclear family becomes increasingly the norm, more and more of those within the container of marriage feel they have a right to mine the other side for details.

Mostly they assume I am married so it’s up to me to dispel the myth or play along. Faced with a chance to avoid all the seemingly necessary follow up questions, I nevertheless tend to come out as single right away. It’s up to the day and the circumstances whether I am decide to play the single mother card in order to curry favor, some kind of assistance (say a beefcake cashier to carry my groceries) or a free drink, but most times I’m just presenting myself as clearly as possible and explaining again that, yes, she gets to see her father several times every week when he’s in town.

I have never asked a married stranger—let alone a friend— whether her husband does half of the childcare, communicates effectively regarding her children’s well being and activities, and/or pays for half of everything, so I am always surprised when I am asked these questions about a man with whom I do not live and am not obligated according to our court settlement to consult on any major decisions regarding our child. Still, almost soothingly, I assure them that yes, my daughter has a wonderful relationship with her father, while avoiding the awkward disclosure that the reason we broke up was that he used to chase me around our apartment telling me I was a stupid loser. (Lest you ask—because I anticipate you will—I assure you he has never said any such thing to my child.)

And yet, I confess, I have often been silently ecstatic that I never have to encourage proper toilet etiquette in an adult, compromise on where to vacation, or ask someone else’s opinion about what to make for dinner, which are the substances of commonplace complaints I hear from the married population.

In that I’ve never been married, and I have a child around whose sleep and paternal visits I must carefully plan all romantic adventures, one of the only things I imagine would be better within a wedded union is that it would be a hotbed of sex without condoms. Please don’t tell me otherwise or I’ll feel completely sorry for your lot.


By Anna E. Pollock



  1. Annie said...

    I’m happily a nobody’s wife and mother of 3. My situation was due to circumstance but I think there was an inherent fear of marriage for me from an early age.

    This article made me nod profusely and smile a lot.

    I have found that the hurdles I have to cross each day are the same if not identical to many of my married friends. Children are children regardless of our marital status.

    I don’t always divulge that I am a lone parent and am rarely offended when people ask how/why. However, on one testing and degrading visit to the benefits office I was asked by a ‘civil’ servant if I owned a car and if all my children where to the same father (thankfully they are and I only have one idiot to deal with). Someone didn’t apply her customer services training that day. I was too stressed to be offended at the time but in hindsight ….

    Thank you for flying the flag.

    Aug 01, 2011 at 5:29 pm
    • Anna E. Pollock said...

      Thanks so much for your comment, Annie! My best to you and your beautiful family! xoxo ~Anna

      Aug 01, 2011 at 8:10 pm

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