Going Solo: Single Parenthood

What it takes to be a Mom

Today I said the words, “I’m Bella’s mommy.” They came out so quickly I didn’t have a chance to think about them. That sentence is one I never thought I’d say. It felt good but awkward to say them. I’m a mom. I’m a mother. This is huge!

When a baby is born, the first six months go by in a flash. Life smacks you in the face and you either crumble or you roll with it. I immediately put baby to breast, changed diapers, took a zillion photos, rocked her, held her, tucked her in. A lot of it came without much thinking. God knows I didn’t have enough sleep to think even if I wanted to. Everything happened so naturally and so quickly that I didn’t have time to realize that I AM ISABELLA’S MOMMY!

In the last 36 years, I have been a daughter, a sister, an aunt, and a girlfriend. I’ve introduced myself as all of these things and have been proud to do so, but to say I’m Bella’s mom is possibly the best way I could ever introduce myself. It feels so right and like something I’ve earned.

I became a mom in September of 2012. That is when I found out I was pregnant. I think, at least for women, this is when we become a parent. We decide to keep the child and then we begin making hundreds of decisions on how to care for that child. From the food we eat to the workload we take on, we are already deciding what kind of mom we will be before the child is even born.

In my case, I had a healthy pregnancy and a memorable birth. And when she was born, my life entirely changed. For the last seven months, I have nursed her, stayed up all night with her, taken her to the doctor, made her food, changed her diapers, washed her clothes, bathed her, picked out a daycare and then got up early every morning to take her there. I have wiped her tears, sucked out her boogies, given her medicine, and I’ve rocked her to sleep. For the most part, I’ve done this on my own.

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She chose me and I accepted. Now I have started to think about our next steps. What will it be like when she starts saying “mommy?” She is going to be a little girl very soon and I’m terrified about it. As long as you feed and love a baby, they adore you. A little girl has opinions and a voice. She asks questions and wants answers.

I always thought there were all of these things I had to do before I became a parent. In my case, however, there was no prep. Bella was an incredible perfectly timed surprise. I welcomed her, but was terrified and totally unprepared. She pulled me out of the murk and continues to make me a better person everyday.

Today I faced her father. He is a man I once admired, and yes, I will admit it, I loved. If you’ve read this blog, you know that he has chosen to be absent from the pregnancy, birth, and now his daughter’s life. For the most part, I have left him alone because there is no reason to chase or pester a man who cannot take responsibility for or acknowledge his own child.

Today I did something I didn’t want to do. I walked into a conference room and I fought for my daughter. I was scared, angry, and so very sad that this is the current situation for us. But I did it because I know it’s what is best for her. This is the essence of being a mother. You ignore the knots in your stomach and you set your emotions aside to do the one thing, even if it scares you, that you know is best for your child.

So when I introduce myself as Bella’s mommy, what I’m really saying is “I am stronger, happier, more compassionate, more loving, more reliable, more responsible, more giving, wiser, and less selfish, because this little girl snuck into my life at the perfect moment and made me that way.”

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Going Solo: Single Parenthood

Why I shaved my legs this morning

I am about to get really honest. I started this blog to be honest and sometimes honesty is not pleasant, so I’m just going to say it. This is long, but something I have to get off my chest. Midway through my pregnancy I joined an online mommy group made up of women who were all due sometime in June 2013. Some of us had our babies early, some of us had our babies late, but all of us shared common worries, joys, tears, and laughter. Now, we are sharing pictures and advice on Instagram and Facebook and have hashtagged ourselves “junemommies.” I love these ladies. Though I have never met any of them in person, I feel very strongly connected to them and dream that one day we will all get together for a big picnic with our little ones and expand our virtual friendships into reality.

The junemommies are made up of older moms like me, younger moms, first time moms, and moms with 5 kids. There are single moms, married moms, divorced moms, lesbian moms, and moms who live with live-in boyfriends. Some of us are wealthy and some of us aren’t. Some of us are educated, some haven’t finished high school. Some of us go to work and some of us stay home with our children. There are arguments and disagreements about different aspects of parenting, but for the most part, we all seem to get along. What brings us together is the fact that being pregnant and then becoming a mom is a scary but exciting thing no matter who you are or where you are in life.bells

Yesterday, one of the moms posted something about shaving. I won’t go into detail since I consider our mommy discussions confidential, but the discussion that followed, silly as it may have been, just brought me out of a funk that I have been stuck in for a year. I scoffed when I saw something about shaving because I don’t even think about shaving anymore. I tried about a month ago and only had the time for one leg, so I just gave up all together. Why bother? There is no man in my life right now, so I am the only one that sees anything. And dating seems unfathomable at this time. I am still breastfeeding, so between nursing and pumping, I feel like a cow most of the time. The little pooch that appeared during my pregnancy is still there and my belly, quite frankly looks like I’m 5 months pregnant, only is soft and sagging instead of tight and wiggly. Parts of my clothes fit and parts do not, so getting the right sized pants to fit legs that haven’t changed but hips and a waist that have expanded or a shirt that fits my normal sized arms and my now porn star sized breasts is daunting to say the least. Not to mention the fact that as a single working mother, all I want to do at the end of the day and on the weekend is go home and snuggle with my daughter; right after I do laundry of course. My daughter takes up so much of my heart right now, that I don’t even know where I would find room for a man in there. Not to mention that any desire to be with a man has been gone for months.

Here is where I am going to be completely honest. While I was pregnant, I wore cute dresses, kept my brows waxed, exercised, did my hair and make-up every day, and shaved. As much as I hate to admit it now, I kept thinking that Bella’s father was going to “come around.” I had fantasies that he was not a true narcissist, but just a guy who was scared to be a dad. I thought he would see one picture of her and suddenly become the perfect father and we would co-parent and be great friends again and all would be right with the world. I was telling people that I hated him and I hoped I never had to see him again, and all the other things people expect from someone trying to be strong despite falling apart inside. In truth, until you have carried the child of a man who at one time said you were soul mates and who now wants nothing to do with you or your child, you will never understand the insanity that goes through your mind and heart. I don’t think I ever wanted to be with him, but something told me that if I just remained attractive enough, he would want to be Bella’s father and do the right thing. As if all of his actions or lack thereof, depended on how I looked. Even though I am in my mid-30’s with a graduate level education, I was still stupid enough to think everything would be different if I was just more attractive.

When it was clear that he was never going to show up again and no level of cuteness from me or my daughter would bring him to his senses, I gave up. I wear the same jeans or yoga pants every day, topping them with a t-shirt or maternity sweater, my hair is almost always in a ponytail, my eyebrows could compete with Bert or Ernie’s, my face rarely sees an ounce of blush or foundation, shaving is something I used to do, and I have come up with every excuse under the sun to eat more chocolate and never exercise. In essence, I am behaving like a woman defeated; a victim. Somehow that post about shaving opened my eyes to this.

So, this morning while Bella napped, I took a shower, shaved, plucked my eyebrows, and washed my hair. While Bella is taking her nap this afternoon, I will reacquaint myself with Jillian Michaels. But I am not going to do any of this because of a man. You see, that is the thinking that comes from a society that tells us that our outer appearance is what makes us worthwhile. That thinking corrupted my mind into believing that there was something lacking in me that caused this incredibly broken man to walk away. It is that kind of thinking that has wasted hours of time focused on matters relating to him that could have been spent really living. The fact of the matter is that I am a loving, caring, intelligent woman who is funny and open and who was born to be a mother. I have had to make hard decisions and sacrifices that I never imagined in the last 16 months and I have grown exponentially as a result.

Maybe I will meet a man someday who will end up being a wonderful father to Bella and the spouse I was always meant to have. Maybe I won’t. Either way, from now on I will shave and shower and exercise because it makes me feel good about myself and I want to set a positive example for my daughter. I will not do it because of a man. I want Bella to know that she is beautiful because of the fact that, like every human being, she is fearfully and wonderfully made, and this beauty exists no matter who her father is or what boy or man gives her attention.

So, shave away sisters! Get that Brazilian wax and get your hair did. But even if it’s just once, don’t do it for your husband or boyfriend or wife or girlfriend. Do it because you are a woman and a mother and you deserve to feel good about yourself. We are all beautiful and beautifully made and sometimes we need to bring out the razor and tweezers to remind ourselves of that truth.

And if any of my junemommies are reading this, Thank you!

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