From Unsure, Unsettled, Undecided: The pendulum of my SMC decision-making has most recently swung toward NO WAY!! How could anyone ever do this? How could I ever do this? NO, NO, NO!!! I had been more positive about choosing to be an SMC, but I haven’t been able to shake this place I am now in. I could use some feedback about the different stages you have gone through as well as some of your thoughts and feelings about how one can do something seemingly so emotionally, physically, and financially difficult as having and raising a child alone. At the moment, only the model of two parents together works for me, no matter how I turn it around. I would like to get back to a more open place about it.
Dear Unsure: First of all, you don’t have to do this and that’s okay. Second of all, why do you think it’s so hard? Your fellow SMCs aren’t superwomen. We’re bright, committed, and fairly independent, but we’re not the CEOs who run the world or Mother Teresas or anything like that. All kinds of women do it and do it well enough. Maybe you should hang out with some moms and their kids of various ages to get a sense of what it’s like.
Has something recently happened that may have caused your thinking to take a turn? Maybe a comment from your family or a sudden realization that something you had not previously thought of may be unmanageable? We’ve all woken in the middle of the night thinking “What will I do in the middle of winter when I have to shovel the snow and get the car warmed up in time to go to work? Who will watch the baby? How can I possibly manage this!”
Then, we joined Single Mothers by Choice (SMC) and started reading and participating in our local groups and the SMC online Forum. We read the “Single Mothers by Choice” book and raided the library and checked out every book on marriage, single parenthood, breast pumping at work, etc. We started discussing our fears with friends who helped come up with solutions.
This is it is a process. Don’t dig into anything you’re not yet ready to handle. If you are informed as much as possible, you’ll be in the best place to make the decision that is right for you. In the meantime, when that wave of terror hits you, be aware, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Many of us have been through it and come out the other side.
Realize that you are on the horns of a dilemma. To be brutally honest, if you are in your late-30s or early 40s, it is unlikely you will find a partner in time to conceive a biological child from a fertility/biological clock perspective. Are you willing to forgo a biological child? You could potentially achieve pregnancy using a donor egg and your partner’s sperm. Or are you willing to become a parent through adoption. Try to pinpoint what bothers you most about being an SMC and focus on that. Find a good therapist to help you think this through. You need to be at peace with whatever decision you make.
Perhaps you might take six months and think about bring an SMC every day, every minute, in every situation—sick, on a date, happy, crazy busy with work. Whatever is going on in your life, think and ask, “How would this be different as a mom? How would I handle this situation?” Some things may appear to be major challenges, but would they make you walk away from the idea forever?
One day a friend who the mom of six kids said something that has stuck with us. We were talking about the Thinking stage and all the doubts, convictions, worries, and so on. She said, “That’s great to be aware and go into it with your eyes open, but the thing that is missing for you as you consider all of these situations is that you are not a mother yet, so you don’t have access to that strange wealth of strength and patience—resources you only know about and tap into once you are a mom. And, of course, you can’t possibly ever imagine the incredible love you will have for your child, and which will help you find those resources.”
Being a parent can be MUCH harder than you ever prepare for, but we’re also often amazed at the things we can do, tolerate, and roll with—things we never knew we could do until we became a mom. Good luck to you in your decision-making.