It’s 1:30 a.m. I’m 30 weeks pregnant, and I can’t sleep. My baby has been digging for diamonds in my uterus for weeks, but I try to remain grateful that my insemination worked on the first try and I get to meet her soon. I’ve always felt that I was meant to be a mom, so when one relationship after another other failed miserably, I decided it was time to take a leap of faith, and have this baby alone—to become a single mom by choice. What I naively didn’t expect were the types of comments I would get for making that decision.
1. ‘Isn’t it unfair to make the decision for this child to have no father?’
I don’t usually answer questions with other questions, but how many mothers haven’t been able to make that choice and have ended up raising a child without a father? Of course I would have loved to build a family in a way that’s a little less alternative, but nowadays, a family can be made of two moms, two dads, and step-anythings. So why would a single parent family unit be an issue? My child won’t have a dad, but she will have a kick-ass gramps, two badass uncles by blood, and many other appointed uncles as strong male role models. It might not be ideal, but when I picture the kind of life she would have had with any of my exes as dads, I think raising her alone can’t be that unhealthy.
2. ‘I’m so sorry.’
This one I got from a few people. The implied sorry came from the look in friends’ eyes and on my brothers’ faces. I could tell they felt that it was a desperate move, a bittersweet suicide, me officially becoming a cynic. And as with every sorry, they felt like they must have failed at something for me to make such a radical and unusual decision, but they got over it quickly when they saw how excited I was getting.
More fun and surprising, two of my exes heard through the grapevine (yeah, okay, through Facebook friends!) that I got pregnant “alone” and both came to me with a weirdly similar apology. They went on and on about how I deserved to be happy *files nails*, how I should not have changed because of past experiences *yawn*, how it’s their fault for not treating me right *zzz*. Well guys, let me tell you: I am happy. I did not change. Kids were always at the top of my life goals list. I just got creative, and I didn’t really address the last self-absorbed comment. After all, they can feel guilty if they want to.
3. ‘OMG, you know what girls without dads end up like, right?’
Right! My plan has always been to raise a stripper from the get-go. You gotta love stereotypes. It would be fun to conduct research and interview “exotic dancers” to see how many ended up making that life choice because of an absent father. The main distinction between a dad walking away and not having one (or rather, having only a donor, a biological father) is pretty simple: My daughter will grow up knowing no one left her, but that a nice man generously contributed to her being born, like a present to me.
I will raise her to know I wanted her so much, but I couldn’t find a good enough daddy for her—maybe we can even find someone along the way. This never sounds as positive when a father has dropped out of the picture, and to me, that’s all the difference. In a way that’s kind of like growing up without siblings, she won’t be missing what she doesn’t know. But it doesn’t mean she won’t find paternal relationships with the other men in her life.
4. ‘You have no idea what you are in for!’
So very true. I have no clue. But who does? I spend way too much time on baby forums, and from what I read, whether you are a first-time mom or a “been there, done that” mom; in a relationship or a marriage; have a wealthy family or a crumbling one; what all these pregnant ladies have in common is that they are all winging it. And I will admit, I’ve gone through life winging it, and so far I’ve managed OK.
We plan, we budget, we envision, we make lists, and we gather all the information we can, but really—truly!—do we know what we are doing and where we are going? No. So dear married friend with kids, nice attempt at trying to throw me off my happy road toward becoming a single mom, but I actually think being able to pick my daughter’s name, work on her sleep schedule, decide what foods to feed her, and what school to enroll her in without having to consult anyone sounds quite appealing. I will struggle (I’m not in denial), but plenty of women have done it on the spot, without being given a chance to prepare mentally and financially. Because I have the chance and this is a conscious decision I’ve been planning for years, I believe I can do this, and I will.
5. ‘Ha! Good! You’ve been talking about having kids for so long.’
Before I told my dad I was going to embark on this crazy journey, it took me days to get ready, to pick the words I would use to explain it all and imagining the disappointment he would feel. Before starting, I asked him not to comment right away, because I never thought he could give me his approval so immediately and unconditionally. I didn’t think I needed it either, but of all the surprising unsolicited comments I got, his was my favorite.
So why am I sitting here writing this in the middle of the night? Because the pregnancy alone has slowly turned me into a more assertive woman who can brush off insensitive and undesired comments, and I think those are skills I’m going to need in the years to come: when my daughter starts asking questions, when I have to fill out official documents and leave the “father” sections blank, and when I get the eye from people who just don’t get it. I’m writing this as a reminder to myself: I know why I’m doing this. In the end, others’ opinions don’t matter that much, and this is a battle I chose to fight so I can become a mother.