Motherhood On My Own Terms

Beautiful mature woman smiling.As Mother’s Day comes and goes once again,  I’m left with a strange mixture of longing and apprehension.  Since finding out about Single Mothers by Choice (SMC), the supposition I could be a mother, albeit on my own, is a new development I’ve let take root. Stronger than ever, it’s now an eventuality I’ve accepted is going to happen.  A radical departure from the trajectory I thought I wanted to follow, from the figment of my life I held in my mind’s eye. After  the warm balmy vision of having children fades, however,  I’m reminded of the reality of my situation — my non-existent relationship with my own mother, and how it complicates the matter. 

I wasn’t surprised that when I started my journey toward SMC-hood, I found myself with the familiar affliction of ignoring the influence of my own mother. I’ve endeavoured over a lifetime to not end up like her, to forget about her, to downplay the influence it will surely have on me.  But it wasn’t enough to ignore anymore.  Like an awful taste left in the mouth, I am left with the polarized positions of wanting to become a mother while wanting nothing to do with my own. 

Mother’s Day was always  a bittersweet day for me, one that always served to highlight the gap that existed between my mother and myself. Part of the reason why I never saw myself as a mother, was because I never wanted to become my own mother.  Now I find myself at 34, reaching an impasse, where I know now is the time to act but something stands in the way. Compounding the tension is the inextricable longing to be a mother myself, of time running out, beating a steady drumbeat.  I have many of the logistics planned out, but I didn’t anticipate the invisible work needed to be done. I learned there is another stage I have to pass through.  How do I ascend to the next level in my life, become the carer when I never felt like I was cared for myself?

More and more now, I think about the correlation between how we were mothered and how we will mother.  Only through that realization will we be prepared to mother on our own, on our own terms. 

Growing up I was left with the impression that having children accomplished nothing other than to expose all the holes in your family. Exacerbating all current troubles rather than smoothing them over, like so many people make the error of assuming.  Now, as I contemplate single motherhood, I worry about this.  Do I even have enough love to give — twice as much, now that I’m performing the role of both mother and father — -when the well has always been dry?

Single motherhood by choice often doesn’t mean total and complete singleness. There’s the safety net of friends and family, the help you get from others. But my own truth still nags at me. I’ve read many accounts of single motherhood by choice that follow the same narrative . Following the familiar blank of I’m now a certain age, I make adequate money, and more importantly, I have the supportive family. No matter how many times I rewrite the equation, I know not having a supportive family is a major setback. How can I make this work when the most important ingredient is missing? Lots of us are going into this without the support of family, so I try to remind myself I am not the anomaly I think I am.  From my vantage point it seems insurmountable, but I know my fierce longing might be enough.

The question of going solo was never the long dark tunnel of questioning for me. For most of my life I felt I already was going solo.  But if you had told me ten years ago I would be internally debating  not only being a mother, but a solo mother, I wouldn’t believe it. it’s a testament to how much  I truly love my life, that I’m mutable, willing to soften my rock-hard convictions. Ten years from now I could be laying in bed, flanked by my own children, celebrating Mothers Day myself, basking in the love I created myself, feeling the triumph.  

As another Mother’s Day has passed, I’m reminded of something I’ve always believed – that giving love is almost an essential human need, as important to survival as shelter and food. Right now there is nothing I want more than to nurture another human being, the time feels right, the action feels whole. Having a child means retribution, it means resolution. 

Someday that will happen, but for now, I have the twin tasks of healing my past while planning for the future-solo. For now I’m content to let the idea bloom inside me. It’s all part of making peace with my origin, making peace with being single, and moving forward. 

Jennifer

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One thought on “Motherhood On My Own Terms”

  1. My aunt is a single mother and seeing all the extra work she does for her kids is very heartwarming and respectable. I liked how you talked about how being a single mother doesn’t mean complete singleness, as I’m sure although it is hard a lot of single mothers get the extra love and help from their family and friends.

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