Going Solo: Single Parenthood

gratitude.

I worry.

In fact I worry so much that I have been known to read a whole chapter in a book or watch a whole TV program and have no idea what just happened because I was too busy worrying about something. As you can imagine, having a child has only upped the ante on my worrying.

When I was nine weeks pregnant and Bella’s father looked at me and said “I can’t do this,” I responded by saying “fine I’ll do it by myself.” I’ve been doing things on my own for my entire adult life. I figured raising a child shouldn’t be much different. In fact, there was a part of me that relished in the idea. I got to pick her name, her religion, her education, and a million other things. I don’t have to fight anyone on any of these decisions. The stubborn bullheaded scorpion in me puffed up her chest and basically told him that I don’t need him so he can just walk away. I had complete control over her upbringing and I liked it that way. The single pregnant mom-to-be inside me was terrified and honestly wanted to call him and beg him for help on more than one occasion.

When I started looking at prices of diapers, daycare, baby food, breast pumps, medical expenses, clothes, a stroller, and toys, I freaked out! The amount of money I would need to raise a child was more than I made each week. I had so many doubtful nights when I thought that I might have made the wrong decision and that I was taking something on that was way over my head. Those nights are over…..for the most part.

Someone recently hit my car and drove away. Though I have insurance, the deductible is well above what I can afford. Yesterday a check arrived in the mail for a huge chunk of this expense. It was a gift; A selfless gesture that I did not ask for. It stopped me in my tracks and brought me to tears. Just like the clothes, blankets, crib, strollers, car seat, breast pump, diapers, wipes, carriers, toys, soaps, bottles, diaper bags…..I could go on all day…..it was a gift. The last year of my life has been one gift after the other. Some have been for me and some have been for my daughter. Everything I have needed to care for her has been provided in one way or another.

There is a pile of thank you cards that are blank. They are joined by a list of all of these gifts and the people who gave them. Between feedings and changings and baths and working full time, I have filled one out here and there, but the pile keeps growing. It is my pile of gratitude. It is a constant reminder that I need to sit down and write about 100 thank you’s, but it is also a reminder that everything is going to be ok and I’m not doing this on my own. There is a whole community of people out there who are raising my daughter. So, until your thank you finally arrives in the mail, this post is my expression of gratitude.

Thank you for your time.

Thank you for your gifts.

Thank you for teaching me not to worry.

Thank you for loving me and loving my daughter and for helping us when we need it, but are too stubborn to ask for help.

 

“Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen.
Keep in the sunlight.” ~Benjamin Franklin

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Going Solo: Single Parenthood

And so it Begins

“Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.”
― Sigmund Freud
Dear Isabella,

Today, in many ways, is the first day of our journey. After you were born, I brought you “home” to Grammy’s house. For the last four months, she has cared for us and cooked for us and helped us figure this whole thing out. Now it is time for us to really go “home” to our house in the city.

This day has been full of mixed emotions. Grammy’s house feels warm and safe and just like home. Being with Grammy feels safe and like home. Leaving feels wrong in so many ways.

Before you came, it was often hard for me to go to Grammy’s. That is the house where so many memories of your grandpa are. It is the house where he was sick and where he passed away. But having you start your life there was so right. Grandpa is everywhere in that house and though you will never meet him, I feel like somehow the two of you know each other now.

Now, that is the house where you smiled for the first time, where I heard your first giggle, and where I rocked you to sleep and sang you your first lullaby. It is where Grammy and I bonded again over ice cream and baby puke. It is where people came from all over to meet you for the very first time. It was the beginning for us and such an important part of our journey.

Now we must move forward, as scary as it may be, and return to my place in the city, a place that was once nothing more than a dorm-like bachelorette pad. I have worked hard, cleaned out old boxes and closets, and prepared a place for you in that life. I’m sure it will be tricky at first, but I know it is what is best for both of us.

Considering the fact that I cried as we left Grammy’s and most of the way home, I want you to know that we are going to be ok. As much as I wanted to turn around and go running back into Grammy’s arms, I know that We need to learn to survive on our own and trust that everything will be alright. And we can rest assured knowing that Grammy’s house is only a short car ride away.

Love,
Mommy

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Going Solo: Single Parenthood

Is ANYONE ready to be a parent?

“My heart is breaking for my sister and the con that she called “love”
When I look into my nephew’s eyes…
Man, you wouldn’t believe the most amazing things that can come from some terrible nights”

~Fun.

It’s been a year since I saw Bella’s father. It’s been a year since I found out I was going to be a single mother. Sure, I have hoped and prayed that he would “come around” in that time or at least by now, but I think I knew that last time we saw each other that I would be doing this alone. I think I have known all along, but was too afraid to actually admit it to myself. Recent conversations with him have solidified the idea for me. I don’t think he will ever come around and I think I really will be doing this on my own for good. He uses the excuse that he just isn’t ready and that his life is too busy to be a father. Lately, I have thought about it a lot and thought about that night we got together to talk about what we were going to do.

A year ago we met in a parking lot and sat in his car. He made it very clear that night that he did not want to be a father, at least not to this baby, and that if I chose to keep the baby, I would be doing it alone. After several hours of talking in circles, where very painful things were said by both of us, I got out of the car and cried all the way home. We spent the next week back and forth about adoption. I think it was my way of keeping the conversation going and hoping he would change his mind, but I knew in my heart that this little girl was meant to be and I was going to keep her.

I will admit that my initial reaction was that I wasn’t ready either. You’d think at 34, I should be ready, but I was still undecided about children, grieving the death of my father, and had recently ended the only meaningful long term relationship I had ever had. I had just started a new job that was full of possibilities and was perfect for a young single woman with nothing to tie her down; a job that came with a huge pay cut, but that made me much happier. I was going out every night, often with my roommate and his boyfriend, both in their 20’s and probably not expecting a baby to enter the picture. My house looked more like a bachelor pad than that of a 30-something professional woman.

I didn’t sleep during that week a year ago. Instead, I took a look at my life and wondered if I was ready to bring a child into it. This was something I wrote:

“My house is a mix match of furniture.

Old toys and books fill up my shelves.

There is dust on my ceiling fan and piles of laundry strewn throughout my room.

Stained wine glasses left over from last night are scattered across my coffee table.

A box full of old love letters and pictures has been pulled out of the closet and is spread across the floor.

Paintings with no particular theme are leaning against the wall, purchased because I liked the way they made me feel not because they matched my décor.  None of them are on the wall.

Old wooden floor boards crack and creek when I walk across my attic apartment room.

My spare bedroom is full of dust and boxes of “stuff. “ I don’t even know what’s in them. I’m pretty sure they have been there since I moved in two years ago.

A closet stuffed full of shoes and clothing in three different sizes attests to my roller coaster relationship with weight.

Shelves full of books that I haven’t even read yet line my walls.

Empty canvases and tubes full of paint sit in piles on my floor.

My bathroom used to be a small closet and has a shower with no tub.

The master of my apartment is not me or my roommate, but a crazy spoiled dog who has been my only child for the last 6 years.

Paint, sand, seashells, and dirt cover the backseat of my car. Coffee stains decorate the front.

I have no husband, no boyfriend, no help.

How can I bring a baby into this mess?

Maybe he’s right….”

But he wasn’t right. A year later, the spare bedroom is a baby room/guest room, the walls are full of eclectic art, my roommate and his boyfriend adore my daughter, there is new furniture in every room, I cleaned my car and my closets, my job is still working out and Bella even comes with me to work. There are still piles of laundry and dust on my ceiling fan, but some things will get done in their time. I don’t have a husband or boyfriend or even an ounce of help from Bella’s father, but I’m not alone. Family and friends help when they can and my daughter is surrounded by love from a crazy and wonderful array of people.

Maybe I wasn’t ready. Maybe no one really is.  Maybe he never will be.

I remember looking at my friend, Diana as she was rubbing my belly months ago and asking her, “How did I get myself into this mess?” She simply looked at me, put her hand on my belly and said, “THIS is not a mess. THIS is a blessing no matter what. Don’t forget that!”  The fact of the matter is that when you have enough love and the will to survive a situation like mine, it is no longer “a situation” or a mess, but a life changing blessing.  I am stronger, wiser, and happier than I was a year ago today and I have this chunky little wonder to thank for it.

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