My mother was a single mother. My father died, and I don’t remember him. I don’t know if that is the reason why becoming a single mother by choice was never Plan B for me, but it might have played a role. I did do the whole relationship thing for a while, but when my relationship ended, and after spending years working all over the world, and loving my freedom, I went back to my personal Plan A – becoming a single mom by choice.
I never did picture mom, dad, and kids as the perfect family when I was a kid. Having a great mom was quite enough. I grew up in a liberal environment, where family structures were hardly ever questioned. I used a known donor to conceive both my kids, and now have a wonderful daughter and a great son. We live in Eastern Europe, where I work as a write-at-home mom.
I remember being somewhat surprised when we first moved here. One of my new neighbors approached me as my kids and I were leaving the building. “Where is your husband? Does he work abroad?” When I answered that I didn’t have a husband, she asked: “So, you are alone then?” Pointing at my kids, I cheerfully answered that no, I was not alone, I have my kids. “So, you are alone then?” My neighbor repeated, “You are all alone with your kids?” For the second time I answered that I was definitely not alone, I was with the kids. A few days later, another neighbor commented, “You are the woman with no husband then? How do you pay the bills?” Excuse me? How do I pay the bills? Even after living in developing countries for years, this question shocked me. I’m a journalist, and pay my bills just fine. I don’t need a husband for that, or for anything else, thank you.
Working from home is wonderful. It gives me the opportunity to see my kids growing up. I raise them with all the freedom of the world, working before they wake up, and after they go to sleep. I realize how lucky I am, and feel blessed every day. I have always been pretty unconventional. I chose to birth at home, use cloth diapers, and alternative medicine, and never thought anything of it.
Whatever is left of my idealism after being tainted by years of being a foreign correspondent still wishes that my family can show some people in this patriarchal, former communist East European country that women are extremely capable, and can do whatever they want. The cynicism in me prevails, though, and doubts that anything like that will happen. Sometimes I want to shout it from the hilltops of this agricultural country – solo mothers do not need your pity, and my kids are very happy! My daughter does that for me, though. “You look nothing like your mom! Does your daddy have blond hair?” A stranger asked her recently. My four year old replied: “Noooooooooo! I don’t have one of thooooooooose! I have a DONOR!” That quickly made the nosy stranger go on his merry way. Still, I find myself wondering if this is really the country I want my kids to grow up in. Perhaps, in another few years, our journey will take another turn.