Checking Single Off the List

Posted on | October 2, 2012 | 5 Comments

When J had his surgery a few weeks back, they needed information on me before they’d take him back for the procedure.  One of the “routine” questions on the pre-op form was the formerly simple “Marital Status” question.  I say formerly simple because before I was married, I marked “single” and after I was married, I marked “married.”

But then divorce entered the picture.  And now I haven’t quite known what to mark.

Because invariably, there is also a “divorced” box just hovering out there on the margin.  And sometimes a “Widowed” box, as well.

So am I “single” or am I “divorced”? And what does checking one vs. the other mean about me?

The more I thought about those boxes, the more annoyed I became.  It’s such social commentary, such a snide elbow in the gut of all “formerly marrieds” whether male or female.  Because honestly, what does it say about you to pick one over the other?  If you check “single” as a 30 something, are you risking the judgy-mcjudgerson looks from the receptionist as she eyes the toddler at your side or the fact that you’re there for your post-pregnancy check up? If you check “single” in your 40s, are you getting a side-eye and a raised eyebrow while the person on the other end of the counter sizes you up to see why you’re still so very single “at your age”?  And then there’s “divorced,” the check of finality, the check of “I used to be married but now I’m not and I don’t want to talk about it only maybe I do because I’m freely indicating that I am now, in fact, no longer married.”

Is there a difference, really, in how you view yourself and those around you if you mark “single” instead of “divorced?”  I think there is.  I think that by marking “divorced” I’m somehow buying into the notion that I need to prove I’m somehow different than “just” a single woman.  I think that marking divorced on a medical form is like saying “I WAS married, SEE?” It’s the check of “I had someone once so don’t be thinking I’ve never been married at my age.” It’s the check that indicates I’m still wallowing in my past.

So from here on out, I vow to mark “Single.” Because I am single, because I’m not ashamed of being single, and because I choose how I define myself.

From here on out, I will ignore the “divorced” mark on any medical form because it’s not a medical condition and it won’t affect my treatment in any way.  From here on out I will happily check “single” and let the imaginary voices be damned.

Because contrary to the lingering whisper in the public forum, there is nothing embarrassing about being a single parent.


5 Responses to “Checking Single Off the List”

  1. april east
    October 2nd, 2012 @ 11:06 am

    “From here on out, I will ignore the “divorced” mark on any medical form because it’s not a medical condition and it won’t affect my treatment in any way. From here on out I will happily check “single” and let the imaginary voices be damned.”

    This is exactly what I decided to do and why. My marital status only matters if I’m married and my spouse has some say over my care while I’m under or whatever. Otherwise, single or divorced are the same. I choose single. And put my mom as my ICE 🙂

  2. Law Momma
    October 2nd, 2012 @ 11:22 am

    Here, too! My mom is my emergency contact. And probably would be more useful in a crisis than my ex would have been.

  3. Emma @ Your Doctor's Wife
    October 2nd, 2012 @ 2:15 pm

    I always marked divorced. I think it has to do with 1) if they ever have to search your history, it gives them a heads up you might have a maiden name, 2) if they are treating your child, they know there could possibly be a father showing up with legal rights to the child and the decision making process of any medical decision.
    Also, having many close friends who divorced around the same time I did and who have not re-married, we’ve noticed there seems to be more stigma for those in their 40’s who have never been married. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, but just an observation.

  4. Barbara Hamill
    October 2nd, 2012 @ 6:58 pm

    so the thing is, I know these little things like which box to check mean a LOT to you because, well, it’s about you, and you think people judge you b/c you’re divorced. But TRUST me when I say, 1) you are over-thinking it, and b) the people who will judge you b/c you’re divorced would have judged you anyway if you weren’t divorced; b/c your roots show or b/c your son forgot to say thank you when they handed him a juice box or b/c you picked the perfect shade of Skittles green for your manicure or b/c you sent him to school with conventional grapes instead of organic. Seriously, ass-hats are everywhere, you CANNOT avoid them or please them or avoid being judged by them. Judging, and deciding you suck at life, is their J-O-B. Bless their little hearts .
    I have learned ( at 42, with 4 kids and a couple of careers behind me, one involving a PhD in chemistry) to frolic in the judging. After a while, your spidey sense will tell you when one of these creatures is in your orbit. And the MOST fun you can have is to give them an aneurysm. Really, I live for it sometimes. Does that make me small? Yes. But also, fun! In front of rednecks I speak loudly (!LOUDLY!) to my children in Spanish ( everyone knows hispanics are loud right?); with the way too crunchy granola’s I may mention to the kids a stop at McDonalds; with the type-A safety freaks, I break out the raisins for the toddler. It’s beyond awesome. And it gives them all something to talk about later. Bonus! For real sister, let it go. All of it. The fear especially. No one can mother your son better than you, no one can be YOU better than you. So let your freak flag fly!!! Embrace the imperfect life you’re blessed with. It beats the alternative, no?

  5. Rachel
    October 5th, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

    I’ve struggled with that choice for many years now! I still choose to mark “single” because I don’t think it matters how I came to be single, but that I just am. Yeah, I may have once been married, but now, I am simply single!! (and enjoying it, I may add!)

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