Thursday, January 29, 2009

Embracing Single Motherhood

This post was sparked by something a friend wrote in an email to me. So I thought I would just start typing and see what comes out.

I can’t say I haven’t had moments (some of them extended) of grief and sadness that I’m doing this on my own. I’m sure there will be more. But today I feel really good about it. Powerful, even.

It’s great to hear about the terrific hubbies and partners of my bloggy friends, but I must admit, that’s not so representative of the couples I know in real life. Yes, I do know some great couples, but I know even more unhappily married ones and divorced ones. Bad relationships make raising a child so much harder.

Just a couple of examples: I have one friend who tells me stories of fights with her husband that leave my jaw hanging open. The things he says! She then “forgets” these things and when I remind her of them, she usually responds, “Oh, yeah. That was bad.” They have a 7 year old with ADHD and other issues. This is not just an active child getting meds thrown at her. Without meds, this child is visibly uncomfortable in her skin. It was a major battle to get him to agree to get her properly tested. He was afraid of the stigma. I thought my head would explode over this. I wanted to shake him and scream, “LOOK AT HER! She’s a sweet, smart child, but she needs help!” They have excellent insurance coverage, yet recently her husband wanted to cut back on some of the therapy she’s getting, EVEN THOUGH IT’S COVERED, because it’s out of network, and they would have to pay up front and wait for reimbursement! WTF!!! Her response—“G has a lot of anxiety about money.” Sorry, not good enough when you’re talking about your child’s wellbeing.

Another example: My cousin has a 12 year old boy. She and her ex divorced several years ago. Ex had an affair (which my cousin didn’t know about until after the divorce was final), requested a divorce, but refused to move out until the divorce was finalized (said it was his attorney’s instructions, and oh, yeah, he continued the affair the whole time). Made both my cousin and her son miserable and continues to. My cousin acted as admirably as possible during the process, never badmouthing her child’s father to him, even gave up more than she should have financially just to have it over with. Idiot father continues to badmouth my cousin to the child and blame her for EVERYTHING! Recent craziness—boy was with his father a few months ago when we had the first snowfall of the season. He told the child (who told his mother) that he was going to call the “Feds” on her for not getting him snow boots. Why didn’t he have snow boots? Because 12 year old boys’ feet grow like weeds. She was waiting as long as she could so he wouldn't outgrow them too soon. Why didn’t his father buy him the boots? “I pay your mother child support so she can buy you everything!”

These are just two examples.

I will NEVER put my child through those kinds of things. Yes, I won’t have a spouse to help with an infant in the middle of the night, but many spouses don’t help that much anyway. (My most recent ex would have been NO help with an infant or toddler due to his disability.) I won’t feel pulled between giving my full attention to an infant and making sure a spouse isn’t feeling neglected. BIG BONUS OF SINGLE MOTHERHOOD—NO IN-LAWS! Have you read about Jen’s in-law nightmares? I never really felt this way before my last relationship, but my ex’s family, OH MY! His mother loved me, but she’s in her mid-80s, not so sharp anymore, and has no power in the family. His sister has treated me so badly and disrespectfully, when she really ought get down on her knees to thank me for saving her brother’s life. (Not exaggerating, long story.)

I get to make the decisions. All of them. My current pick for a girl’s name is one that my ex vetoed. Nyah, nyah! The name honors my father, who died when I was 17. It’ll be perfect for a feisty redhead. A boy will get my father’s name as a middle name. I’m a little stuck on a boy’s first name, but I have time.

I’m doing this alone, but really I’m not. I’m gathering a community. I’ve already talked to a few friends and family members about help in the beginning. I’m chatting up moms at my local Starbucks. Last weekend I met a cool SMC and her terrific 2 year old daughter there. They live just a couple of blocks away from me. (Hi!)

When I think about how Angrycanrn and I connected, and how WE are making this happen, I’m happily astonished. When I first started considering donor embryos I had an idea of the kind of open relationship I’d like between the families. We are exceeding my expectations. Even though she is not single by choice, she understands what it takes and has faith in me. I look at how she has handled the cards she’s been dealt, and I find incredible strength.

One day I’ll be ready for a romantic relationship again, but I won’t be looking for a father for my child. My child and I will be a complete family. Anyone else is gravy. Gravy is good, but we can do without it.


Bella said...

You will be a great mommy! And I agree with you, I think one stable parent is better than two unstable ones! I rememebr being somewhat happy when my parents got divorced. They are both great people, but they weren't good together. You'll be a great mommy and your child(ren) will be lucky to have you!

Nikki said...

DH and I are together, and I'm one of those that harps on and on about how great he is, but I agree with you - we're better off as single moms if the combination is not working.

We have some friends that were good enough as a couple before the kids came along. After that - poof! All the comments, arguments, how to bring up the child, you do this, I did that etc etc etc! It's exhausting, and sort of scary that that's what happens after a child is born! But I guess a relationship that's not working will not work whether or not there is a child there. Too many people have children to save their marriages too - another bad idea!

You'll be a great mom!!

Anonymous said...

Bravo, Dora! And ditto, ditto, ditto. Great post.

Michelle said...

Good for you! You WIL be one great mom! I completely agree that 1 mom is better then 2 parents that are not good. My parents were horrible examples as well as DH's parents. I think that is what makes us work so well. We never want to be that...EVER! Again I say good for you!

Kristin said...

You will be fabulous at this and, on the nights you are going crazy, you will have many of us you can call.

The Steadfast Warrior said...

I love your perspective and attitude on all of this. You're going to be a great Mom.

chicklet said...

Gravy is good, but we can do without it. Brilliant!

battynurse said...

I'm with you. My ex boy friends mom used to tell me that it's better to be alone than wish you were. She is also the person whom I was discussing how I was feeling like I was missing out having someone to share this journey with and she stated how much she missed having someone there to enjoy a new baby with too. And she was married. Being married or in a relationship is no guarantee of having a great experience. I've also decided on names etc and don't feel like changing my mind. I'm ok on my own and me and a baby will be ok on our own too. So will you. We'll be great.

C said...

Nyah is a beautiful name! And I agree with you. Its better to be a GOOd single parent, then to try and be a "conventional" family but be crappy parents. I know several such couples, including my own sister who should never have become parents! More power to you... said...

And these people you know are parents. Lovely Irony!

Geohde said...

You will be great. Your home will be stable. It surprises me that in this day and age some even question SMBC.



Meg said...

Rock on! Each side has it's own set of challenges and single motherhood doesn't mean not as good - just different.

Anonymous said...

I just read this post and I am very moved. Thank you for saying such sweet things about me.

You will be a great mother. I don't really think that there even needs to be a qualifier added to that. Does it really matter whether one is a single, married, gay but in a committed relationship, divorced, separated or anything else I have missed?

Gravy is a great analogy.

I don't get to call myself a SMBC but I would do so proudly if I could. There is something powerful about MAKING that choice versus having it thrust upon you. I cringe at the pity that I see when people learn that I am a widow.

There is so much more I want to say, but thank you. And thank you for the gift you have given me. Peace. (especially now that the embryos are officially YOURS!!).