This pregnancy was actually planned.
Everyone knows I wanted more kids, to have a bigger family. Believing I was heading that way, I got ahead of myself. Things didn’t go as planned, but life keeps going. Life moves on.
Ummm … I do not think that word means what you think it means.
If things didn’t go according to plan, I’m pretty sure this baby wasn’t exactly “planned.” Now she could mean “wanted” which has become synonymous with “planned,” but still isn’t exactly the same thing.
Which actually leads to a really interesting conversation about how we talk about “non- traditional” families. Is a divorced mother of two who has a friendly relationship and shared custody with her ex a “single mother?” She technically is single in terms of her relationship status, but isn’t exactly the image of a single mother that’s conjured when people, especially politicians/ pundits talk about them. If a couple has made a long term, emotional and financial commitment to each other should we expect their children to struggle in life because their parents technically aren’t married? If a child is born to a teen mom but is raised by his married grandparents, should we expect the same levels of difficulties as we expect from children born to teen moms? These are complex questions that should be had about the evolving idea of family. And our conception and language about families should also be evolving. Most people have already accepted that families come in formations other than married mom and dad, and 2.5 kids. For those people, the idea of having a child outside of marriage isn’t anything that needs to be explained because it isn’t a bad thing.
And who are the people that do think it’s a bad thing? Mostly it’s supposed political allies of the Palins:
Jeb Bush on single moms as of June 11th:
“It’s a huge challenge for single moms to raise children in the world that we’re in today and it hurts the prospects, it limits the possibilities of young people being able to live lives of purpose and meaning.”
Rick Santorum as of June 2014: “However, the former Pennsylvania senator said that marriage should be an environment where children are raised by ‘their natural mother, and their natural father.’” (Apparently Santorum is not ok with adoption either.)
This year Ted Cruz said he was saved from a single parent household only by “the transformative love of Jesus Christ.”
Marco Rubio on how traditional marriage and family lead to his success in July 2014: “Because I was raised by two parents who were married to each other, who instilled in their children the expectation that we would get our educations, that we would find fulfilling careers, that we would one day get married and start families of our own.”
So the only people who would mock and judge Bristol don’t seem to draw a distinction between a planned, wanted pregnancy and any other pregnancy outside of “traditional” marriage. Why then would she feel the need to make the distinction?
Because then she gets to draw a distinction between herself (white, rich, Christian, employed) and our collective image of single mothers (not white, poor, heathen, welfare queen). She alludes to her brief engagement as a way to explain why she would be having premarital sex. She wasn’t just boning down on some random dude like a common whore. She was boning down on her future husband. Which of course is a great way for her to avoid identifying and empathizing with women who have been in similar, explainable situations. This could be a great chance for her to distance herself from members of a political party that demonizes women who have sex outside of marriage and would like reasonable methods of controlling for the possible outcomes of that sex. She could use her experiences not just to warn other women against making the same “mistakes” she did by not having sex, but by championing for women who have been in similar positions by redefining what it means to be a “single mom.” She could help combat the vilification of single mothers that she claims she’s been the victim of. But considering she had that chance after her last pregnancy and chose not to take it, I won’t be holding my breath.