DEAR SUSAN: How on Earth did you come up with the idea of exercises in singleness? I've heard of situps and pushups for the underused abs and belly muscles, but how does someone exercise their singleness?!
DEAR BLOGGER: The same logic that applies to one's abs or stomach muscles applies to their singleness: Underused is underdeveloped. A flaccid stomach muscle or abdomen is of little use to its owner when physical strength is called for. (Follow me closely here, dear Readers, and logic will lead you to your answer). The unmarried state, if not utilized vigorously, will tend to either grow inward, narrowing the supply of people so necessary to a full and vigorous life, or make a splash outward and become a mini-world of time-wasters and distractions. Either direction of energy is a contortion of the purpose of life, which is to grow and develop into more of a person. That purpose is best achieved in the unmarried state, when time and resources are under personal control. Exercising one's singleness is, then, conscious usage of one's time and resources in order to grow outward, to explore one's interests and to expand one's personal universe. And, when making the decision to migrate to the coupled world, the move can be as smooth as walking off a moving escalator — without missing a step. Paramount to coupled success is the continuation of the Exercises in Singleness! Maintaining them faithfully will keep one's undependence intact and operable. And, not incidentally, it will make you — and your relationship — so much more interesting. Being interesting and beloved makes for a fascinating partnership. I wish it to you.
DEAR SUSAN: I'm commenting on Madonna Motherhood. I think no child should be raised without some kind of father figure; there are things a child cannot learn from a single mother. I don't know any woman who has chosen to be a single mom, but I do know some women who are single mothers — and they have a big job! One thing about a child: You have a lifetime friend.
DEAR BLOGGER: I agree — a child should have the benefit of male and female influences growing up. But (yes, I was a widowed single mom) there are intelligent ways of putting a male into your child's sphere. Enrolling the child in a Sunday school class that has a male teacher, an after-school play group, a summer sleep-away camp or day camp will bring male figures (counselors, etc.) into his life. One suggestion made by well-meaning friends felt risky, and I decided against enrolling my son in a Boys Town- type of organization. (My instincts were borne out years later in gut-wrenching headlines.) Yes, Scott needed a male influence, decidedly so. But inserting a pseudo Daddy into his young and impressionable mind just didn't sit right with me; the back of my neck bristled at the thought of it. But, of course, a fatherless child needs male influences — carefully examined influences. With women on the rise, earning more money and outnumbering men, it seems inevitable that more and more women will opt for Madonna motherhood. We're just beginning to recognize the complications of the phenomenon, which inevitably has two sides. What's good for the goose, as they say, is good for the gander. In my own family, a 40-ish bachelor — handsome and wealthy — is taking legal steps to have a child carried by a surrogate and legally given to him at birth. He's not at all sure he will ever marry, but he is taking each and every legal step to make sure he will be part of the wonders of parenthood — and have a friend for a lifetime. I wish it to him.
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