The ‘We’ Of Single Motherhood

A few weeks before my 42nd birthday, sitting alone on my houseboat on a foggy morning in Sausalito, I watched a red cross appear on a home pregnancy test and was flooded with a rush of joy, relief, anticipation and fear. I had no husband or boyfriend to tell the news, so I first called my mom who with strange intuition said, “I knew that’s why you were calling!” I then began my usual phone circuit of girlfriends, my inner circle of women to whom I have always reached out for moral support. Whether it’s a career crisis or to commiserate on a bad date, each of them in their own way has always offered a dose of reality or a joke to lighten the fact that my date drank red wine with a straw because he didn’t want to stain his teeth or showed me a Facebook slideshow of

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Busy Single Mother: Black Leather and Oxygen

I spent much of this past weekend in the black leather rocker that was my nearly constant companion before I had kids. I used to spend hours in that chair, rocking and reading, losing myself for days in a Toni Morrison novel or the latest issue of Best American Short Stories or maybe 20 minutes with Alice Munro’s latest fiction in the New Yorker. But that chair and I haven’t spent much time together since my second maternity leave, since Eva’s eight short weeks of exclusive mommy bonding time expired and I returned to work and a routine that rarely affords me time to sit down, let alone read. But last week when a friend created a cash mob for our local independent bookstore, I ventured out without my children and bought two Toni Morrison novels (I’m that far behind) and the 2012 Best American Short Stories and Cheryl

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Pulling Away

JenTate2016I think it’s happening and I’m not ready!!

I’m sensing that Tate is pulling away from me. He’s growing up. He’s finding out that he can have his own opinion. He’s realizing that he can have things in common with his friends that I’m not privy to.

And I don’t like it.  Not one bit.

Over the past two months we’ve had several power struggles. I ask or tell him to do something and he doesn’t respond or do what I’ve asked the first time. That might sound strange, but Tate has been a child who would almost always do what I asked or said the first time. If I said “Come here” he would come here.  If I said “Please walk on the sidewalk” he’d do so with no questions. Now I’m getting, “Why?” “Do I have to?” “Why can’t I do X instead?”  I find myself repeating the

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Made My Decision

womancrossroads copyI think my mom’s illness, and especially her difficult recovery from surgery, has crystallized things for me. In two ways.

The first: I’m so grateful not to be enduring her illness alone. Maybe that’s a terrible reason, but I’m very grateful to have siblings who share (more than their fair share nowadays) the burden. Not just the work, but the worry.

The second, and better reason: I realized, thinking about her mortality, that when I imagine looking back at my life from an older age, having a child is the very best thing I’ve ever done. Nothing else comes close. C. brings me unspeakable joy.

How can I not want to experience this one more time?

Another blogger wrote about her decision not to have a second child, and I completely respect her choice, and her reasons behind it. Namely that she can’t be a good parent to her first

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The Politics of SMCs

iStock_womentalkinggrp-323x215When I first joined the national Single Mothers by Choice (SMC) organization, and my local group, I assumed the other women I would meet – virtually and in person – would be fairly similar to me.  I thought that making such an “unconventional” life choice would be a decision only left-leaning, primarily urban/coastal women would make.  I could not have been more wrong.

What I’ve found instead is an amazingly diverse community of women.  Our political affiliations are all across the spectrum.  We are gay and straight, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and atheist.  We are urban and rural, in the U.S. and Canada and Europe and Southeast Asia, and everywhere in-between.  We are black, white, Asian, Hispanic, and of every possible ethnic mix.  We are creative types and scientists who work from home and travel the world and are unemployed.  We are biological and adoptive moms and waiting-to-be-moms and still-thinking-about-becoming-moms. 

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Girls Can Drive Dumptrucks and Boys Can Dance

“I wish our family had two moms,” Sam says, and I am caught by surprise. I am loading the dishes into the dishwasher while Sam puts the head on his new Lego alien minifigure and Eva pulls at my pants leg begging for her bedtime cup of milk.

“Why is that?” I ask. Our family has one parent. One mom. And it’s never going to have two moms.

“Because moms are great, and if there were two moms one could play with me while the other mom puts Eva to bed.”

I’ve recently been talking to Sam about how all families are different. We have books that talk about big families and small families, families that adopt, families with two moms or two dads, families with just one parent. We have books that explain IVF and how a child can come in to the world without a dad.

“That would

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Waiting and Planning

When I started this journey I had no idea there was even a term for having a baby solo. The phrase “Single Mother by Choice” came into my line of vision in a Google search.

My neighbor started this baby party. She was hitting forty in months with no man on the horizon; she was ready to be a mother. I was 36, soon to be 37, and thought I had a whole bunch of time to find the husband and have the babies.

I attended three painful seminars at the local Reproductive Endocrinologist’s. My age was plastered in every presentation as presenting a big dilemma to my dreams of children. A review of my situation made it clear that I had many dilemmas not just one.

A bad economy, underpaid at work, a house underwater. I am living in the south when my entire family living in the north

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Dad Questions

questions or decision making conceptI rarely get asked about E’s dad but I did get asked last week by an IT guy I’ve known for many years – he was sitting at my desk working on my computer while I stood next to him. He said something like, “I see pictures of the baby but none of the dad!” Gesturing around smiling, implying that the dad was sorely underrepresented. The right answer was something like, “Oh, that guy? Yeah, it’s all about the baby now.” But instead what came out of my mouth was, “Oh, that’s because he doesn’t have a dad.” Which is what I think we all agreed is NOT what I was intending to say- I wanted to say, “Our family doesn’t have a dad” but I did go on to explain that I chose to have a baby on my own. Maybe the answer was, “That’s because I had him

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