Making a choice to parent on your own is huge and it is scary. It is also liberating. You are making a decision and acting on it on your own timeline. You are calling the shots about when you will become a parent.
My friend Issa brings up a lot of fantastic points about single parenting in a crib sheet. The two of us met online because we are both single mothers to super-adorable boys.
I remember one night, early into our friendship, when she tweeted out to her friends and followers that she needed some support to get through a hard weekend. It was one of the first weekends where her son was not going to be sleeping at her house, but at his father’s. I sent out my message of support and love, but in all honesty I could not imagine what she was going through.
Being a single mother by choice is not being a single mother by circumstance, even though there are many, many overlaps, the being single part glaringly at the front of the list. But after that, a woman that has begun her journey solo has entirely different things to navigate. So I used Issa’s crib sheet as a jumping-off point, and then added some additional ideas.
Fear and Grief
If you are considering becoming a single mother by choice, there are other elements of fear and grief that will be unique to you.
Making a choice to parent on your own is huge, and it is scary. It is also liberating. You are making a decision and acting on it on your own timeline. You are calling the shots about when you will become a parent.
Grief is understandable, as many of us didn’t imagine living a life or starting a family without a partner. What helped me work through my sadness on this issue was telling myself that just because I am having a child on my own doesn’t mean I will never find love. It simply means that when I do, I will need to make sure he is great father material as well as great husband material.
Preparation and Delegation
Issa talks about delegating parenting tasks to friends and family, and reminds us to carve out time for ourselves.
I prepared to become a single mother by choice in three ways:
- I did a personal life audit to see if I was ready to be a mom on my own: Did I have some savings? Did I have a clean bill of health? Did I have the guts?
- I told my immediate family and closest friends, so that I would have a support system through the process of trying.
- I called my doctor, and together we called a reproductive endocrinologist (RE).
Beyond physically preparing and making sure you have some financial reserves to parent solo, something else to consider is thinking about people in your life who will be a part of your child’s life.
Issa has some great points about knowing whom in your circle you can turn to for specific parenting help. Within my circle I like to think that I have someone for every question that my son could lob at me!
Sharing the Story
At some point, your child is going to want to know his or her story. Even before that, I guarantee that neighbors, the woman at the bank, and that guy on Facebook will want to know how exactly it is that you came to be with child. It is entirely up to you how much or how little you share with others.
I once read that how the news is presented shapes how people receive it. I was thrilled when I finally became pregnant with my son. When I was ready to tell people beyond my inner circle, I began by saying, “I have some very exciting news!” and I went on to explain that, thanks to modern medicine and a team of doctors, I was going to have a baby on my own.
Telling my son about his story began the day he was born, and it gets more detailed the older he gets and the more he can comprehend. (I am also aware that whatever I tell him will be shared with others — so heads up on that!)
I have shared with all of my son’s teachers about his unique family. Many children have a different kind of “normal” at home, whether it is a single mom raising them or two moms or two dads raising them. Telling my son’s teachers allowed them to be more sensitive to topics (such as family day).
Things that Make Life Easier for a Single Mom by Choice
Issa hits the nail on the head by talking about growing your own village. Though I am a single mother, I have never once felt like I was raising my son alone. Between my mother (who is very active in my son’s life) and my friends, we have a tight support system. If you don’t have family nearby, establish the friends that you can lean on like family.
If you discover that your current friends are not able to support you the way you need them to, be proactive in finding ones that can. There is a national network for single mothers by choice called SMC. You can begin by finding a group online, and many have in-person meetups. (You can also always find me on my blog and wave hello!)
What About Dads?
I know that some people worry about role models, especially for boys, in homes where there is no father. I can understand this. It is important for me to talk about fathers with my son, because if he is lucky, some day he will get to be one. We talk about fathers as being parents. When he tends to his stuffed bunny rabbits and affectionately puts them to bed, I compliment him on being a good father.
Did you ever consider being a single mother by choice? Do you have single friends who you think are musing about it? What advice would you give a woman that tells you that she is thinking of becoming a single mom by choice?