The idea of becoming a single mum by choice has been circling around in my brain for some time. It’s felt near on impossible to reach a final decision though. After all, deciding to have a(nother) child can’t be answered with a pros and cons list. Such a list would collapse under the weight of all the cons (screaming, lack of sleep, dirty nappies, vomit and exhaustion to name but a few), yet that one pro – mothering another being – would outweigh them all a thousand times. Early last year I decided that if I felt as strongly about having another child at the end of the year (and was still single) then I’d ask a friend to be a sperm donor. It was like I’d given myself a get out of jail free card from my current life and I didn’t even need to deal with the actual decision in the meantime.
It was Christmas when I finally decided I was going to have another child using a sperm donor. The question had never been whether I wanted another child, but rather could I go down *this* route to get there. My brain had churned the idea over and over, processing it consciously and subconsciously for so long that when I reached my decision it fitted perfectly. There were no ifs, no buts. It felt almost spontaneous, despite being anything but. The idea of an unknown sperm donor felt right – all my fears of having a baby this way disappeared in an instant. It was the polar opposite to how I felt when I first became a single mum. A part of me was still gutted that I wouldn’t be having a family with a partner any time soon – perhaps I’ll always feel that way – but this didn’t mean I couldn’t achieve my dreams another way.
There was one person I needed to consult before I got too carried away though. My son. It took a bit of explaining for him to understand what ‘having a little brother or sister’ meant. When I referred to our friend’s baby he got it; “would you like a little baby Polly?*” I asked. The broad, beaming smile on his face said more than words ever could. I’m not delusional that this means he understands, or that he will feel the same when a small baby is screaming for his mother’s attention, but I knew it meant he wants our home to be filled with life and laughter just like I do.
Over the next few days everything shifted. I was happy; I slept with contentment in my heart. It was strange, almost unsettling, I hadn’t felt like this for a long, long time. Gone was the gentle fear gnawing away at me, no longer was I overwhelmed by the lack of control over my life. I lived like this for a few weeks, I researched, started to make plans, dreamed about the possibility of holding a baby by next Christmas – my baby. A huge weight was lifted. I could dream again; only this dream might become reality.
I continued to feel like that for awhile, feeling better than I had in years. Then the worrying kicked in. Am I rushing into this? Will I regret it? Have I really done all I can to find a partner? Maybe I should move town. I’ve always found northern men more friendly. Each individual fear wasn’t that great, but I had a huge fear of any doubts. Were these understandable nerves given the enormity of what I was about to embark on? Or was this a sign that I wasn’t yet ready to take this path? I was back in the realms of impossible questions that no-one could answer, least of all me. There was only one thought that centred me throughout; the image of me holding my baby – in my womb, and hopefully, eventually, in my arms. The doubt wasn’t about whether I wanted this child, or even if I could cope. No, this doubt sprung from a fear of missing out on some imagined, parallel life. A dream based on some unfounded hope that I had no control over. Hope had kept me in a bad marriage, I wasn’t about to let it hold me back from making the best decision of my life.
Through all the shitty things that have happened to me in the past few years I’ve done stuff. I’ve tried everyday that I can physically and mentally manage it, to improve my life. I love travel; I have taken my son to four continents. I had a nightmare boss; I got a new job. I lacked friendships; I joined single parent groups. I wanted to be social and get healthy; I joined a running group and softball team. I wanted to meet a man; I swiped right and left and went speed dating. I needed an outlet for my feelings; I set up this blog and went to counselling. I wanted to explore other career options; I started a kiddy clothes line, wrote children’s books and published articles. All these actions were me trying to move on, but the reality was just some weird dance of one step forward, two steps back. Circling the one thing which I wanted more than anything. Never quite able to reach it.
For the last three years I’ve been straddling two worlds; the world of singledom and dating, and the world of family. There was a time when I thought I could have the best of both worlds. But I don’t want the best of both, I want the best and worst of one. I’m an all or nothing kind of woman; straddling leaves me unbalanced and dizzy. I need to choose which world I’m in and plant both feet firmly there. I want roots, strong roots that run deep. I want branches, beautiful branches that I can watch blossoming. In reality, I chose that world the moment my son was conceived. I chose him**. This decision isn’t just about a future child, it’s about my existing son; I’ve finally given myself permission to enjoy him, to enjoy our family, and that includes growing our family as we both want.
*Not her actual name.
**As always I am writing from my own perspective. I’m not suggesting others can’t manage to straddle both worlds very successfully, many people do. If you are one of those women I’m in awe of you.
This post is part of my solo mum by choice series. You can read all about it here: