I sometimes sense that when the thinkers and planners and tryers in Single Mothers by Choice (SMC) say they admire those of us who are already moms, there’s perhaps a sense of wonder about how we do it all and whether the aspiring mom is up to the task herself. I know when I was in the thinking phase, I often wondered the same about myself.
I wondered if those SMC moms possessed certain abilities I might lack, since it can be intimidating to see triathlon athletes and all the other high-powered and fabulous women who often frequent SMC’s private online forums. Most specifically, on a personal level, I don’t consider myself a very high-energy person. Pre-baby, I loved to sleep in on the weekends and then curl up on the couch indulging in tons of TV watching and book reading. My idea of a good time is dining out and then vegging out. I’m not a super active or athletic person and not always so disciplined — laundry could pile up a couple of weeks before I took action, and vacuuming could wait even longer at times. I would lug a 20-lb carton of cat litter up a flight of stairs, huffing and puffing along the way, and wonder how the hell I’d pull off lugging around an infant car seat or clinging toddler all the time.
The worry intensified when I got sick with the flu or even just had a nasty migraine. I could barely get up to grab some medicine, let alone do anything else. How could I manage a child’s needs when I could barely take care of myself? It was scary to wonder if I had what it took to do it all on my own.
All this is to say I worried about the physicality of mothering more than a lot of other aspects.
What I’ve learned in becoming a mom is that when you have no choice, you just do what you’ve gotta do! I still groan when my kid wakes me at super early on a Saturday morning, but I get up and smile at my boy anyway — and I’m always rewarded with a huge smile back, which is a wonderful way to start the day! And when I’m sick, I still get up and manage to meet my child’s basic needs. It’s not always easy, and there are times I’m counting the seconds until his nap time, but on those days, I ignore the clothes that could be put away or the toys that could use clearing up and just allow myself a little laziness. Half the time I somehow find the energy to get it all done anyway. Currently, I am battling yet another cold I picked up from his daycare, and pre-motherhood I would have probably curled up for days and wallowed in my sickness, but these days I just blow my nose, acknowledge I feel like crap, and go about doing whatever it is I need to get done. That’s the secret about kids: They give you a certain fuel you can’t explain…. I guess it’s just the power of LOVE.
Partnered friends with kids have said they think I am a superwoman, and that I make it look so easy, and they don’t know how I do it, since they struggle so much even with another set of hands. But I just tell them I know nothing different. It doesn’t feel harder to me, simply because I have no basis of comparison, never having had the help to begin with!
SMCs are special in many ways, but please don’t think we’ve got some kind of superpowers that you lack. If you become a mom, you will most likely be able to handle it. If that’s your only fear, don’t let that fear stop you — I promise, mothering is worth the extra energy it requires!
Jennifer Whitney, NJ