The Adventures of Parenting as a Single Mother “by Choice”

November 6, 2014

To observe National Adoption Month. GIFT is featuring a variety of guests bloggers. Enjoy their stories. We appreciate their willingness to share such private moments.

Rebecca and babyI was 41, Single and Jewish…and I was matched in THREE months!

So first, let’s dispel the myth that you won’t be able to adopt if you are a single woman, over 40, and/or not catholic. It’s simply not true!

But for now, I will focus on my decision to be a single mother “by choice” and the adventures of parenthood alone.

While I realize some people have always had a calling to adopt, I was not one of them (well, maybe subconsciously I actually was). I wanted my fairy tale – married to a hot guy, lots of kids in a beautiful home with a white picket fence. Instead I found myself single, in my 40’s, living in a one-bedroom condo on a non-for-profit salary.

But I was still holding on to my dreams. And while I might not be able to control finding and falling in love with the man of my dreams, I COULD take control of becoming a mommy. So I started down that rocky path.

It was my choice to become a single parent, but not exactly what I would have chosen if my plans had panned out. So, I use the term single parent “by choice” loosely.

Like many women, I struggled with fertility, and after 2 years and 26 rounds of IUIs, I found myself considering adoption…and – it felt right! Nine months from the day I made that decision (a bit ironic, I know), and with the help of an awesome adoption consultant, a brave birth mother and a sweet little baby boy, my dreams of motherhood came true!

People thought I was crazy to parent on my own, telling me how it was hard enough with two parents. My answer was always, ”I won’t know any different.”

And I still believe that. You work with what you’ve been given/what you have…and you make it work for you!

The Best Part of Parenting on Your Own:                                                                                     rebecca and son

  • I make all the parenting decisions without engaging in any disagreements.
  • If I want to leave the house a mess one night, I do!
  • I receive ALL the cuddling!
  • I have the profound privilege of helping to shape my child.
  • I HAVE NEVER FELT SO MUCH LOVE IN MY LIFE!

The Challenges:

  • The responsibility for a child is overwhelming at times – not only the day-to-day tasks, but also the huge decisions that fall on your shoulders and yours alone.
  • There’s nobody else to take over when your child has pushed you “over the edge,” and you feel like you need to walk away.
  • YOU alone are up tending to your needy child at 3:00am.
  • You change ALL the diapers…and there is nobody to share in the stinky messes…or laugh with at the moment.
  • There’s nobody there to share the exciting milestones as they happen.
  • The financial burden is all on you – childcare, babysitters, diapers, wipes, bottles, clothes, bedding, medications…get the picture?
  • Scrambling for alternate care when you have an important meeting at work and your child wakes up with a high fever.
  • The cost attached to whatever downtime you take.

…And yet, while there may be more points on the challenging side, trust me when I say the positives SO outweigh the challenges…and you can do it!!

BUT, there is one thing for sure that you will need…SUPPORT!

I never fully appreciated the term, “it takes a village,” until becoming a mother. Having a network of support, especially during that first year, is so important. You will need your family, friends, other Single Mother’s by Choice (SMC), parenting groups, church/synagogue, etc. If it’s not obvious to you who those people will be, start building your own community!

I’ve learned that the community of motherhood that you are about to enter into is AMAZING, and if nothing else, supportive! You need them and they need you!

The baby stage, for me, was easy. I thought, “What’s all this HARD stuff people were telling me about?” So, I might have had an easy child. But I had also worked incredibly hard to become a mom and hadn’t put my body through pregnancy, that I was pumped up on adrenaline and roaring to go! Also, because it HAD taken so much time, money, emotion and a lack of patience, I appreciated motherhood; I dare to say, even more.

Going back to work full time was tough. Just being able to get to work and then back home on time puts my stomach in knots. What I’ve realized along the way is that the workforce isn’t always as understanding of the unique pressures on single mothers as you would hope…no matter what lip service they give you. You need back up plans for your back up plans…and/or the ability to take a lot of sick days from your job!

Besides juggling work and home, as a single woman, I haven’t quite fit in, especially as I get older.

In my family, my sisters have been married with kids for quite some time, and I felt like the odd “wo”man out. Socially, I had my core group of single friends, while many others were married and most with families of their own. So I didn’t see them much anymore.

Now, I’m single with a child who I adopted on my own…in and of itself, this is not something most people understand, let alone can relate to. So, where does that leave me fitting in? As I become more confident, it’s gotten a LITTLE better, but there is still a sense of not quite fitting in. For example, the friends I already had with families have kids much older than my 3 year-old, so now we really don’t have much in common, and it’s a bit more complicated to get together.

I DO have a core group of girlfriends with young children, and I have the support of my family, but I have also sought out to build a new community around me to learn from, through which I find support. These are other Single Mothers by Choice, adoptive family groups (it doesn’t hurt that now that I’ve moved, I have plenty of room to host all my new friends), and a ton of awesome Facebook groups for moms, adoptive families, single parents and the like. All of these things are now part of this adventure I call my life. And I feel richer because of it!

Above all else, I still pinch myself everyday, because it feels like I’m living in a dream…and I am!

 

Rebecca Gruenspan, MSW, is the Founder of RG Adoption Consulting. A single adoptive parent herself, Rebecca works with hopeful adoptive parents to educate, guide and be a hand to hold through the domestic adoption process. She also has years of experience as a therapist, fundraiser, event planner, presenter and mentor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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