It has been two weeks and I’m trying to stay on a regular schedule of documenting life as it goes with my two minions. Well, unfortunately, they are far from minions. They are usually not that cute, they rarely listen to what I have to say, and I can always understand what they say back to me. It has been a tough two weeks, personally and professionally. Rather than dive into all that stuff, which would be drama, and my mom frequently says to me, “I don’t know how people live with so much drama. How YOU live with so much drama,” I’m going to take a brief intermission and capture some thoughts and experiences around my choice to have a child in an unconventional way. Following are a couple common questions or comments that are expressed about my decision.
“Wow. That must have been a tough decision. What made you decide to do that?”
I am a data collector. I love information, and before I make decisions, I usually spend an inordinate amount of time reading, researching, googling and interrogating any relevant person who will talk with me. On the eve of my second divorce (not really the eve, but in the last months), I seriously came to the conclusion that I wanted a child. I had somewhat wanted a child, through my first and second marriages, but as each marriage wore on, envisioning myself with a child in these situations almost brought on anxiety attacks. My husbands were not bad men by any stretch of the imagination. I just really struggled with marriage, I hadn’t figured it out, and I didn’t want to complicate things with a child. A couple of years after my second divorce, I became committed to this idea of having a child. I studied. I joined SMC (Single Mother by Choice) online groups and chats. I attended local SMC meet-ups. My two go-to books were No Man? No Problem! Knock Yourself Up: A Tell-All Guide to Becoming a Single Mom by Louise Sloan and the more serious Choosing Single Motherhood: The Thinking Woman’s Guide by Mikki Morrissette. At the time, I was actually in a somewhat serious relationship with a guy who supported my plans, he just didn’t want to be “the one” and I was fine with that. I truly wanted to give this a shot on my own. I may have been a disaster in the romantic partner arena, but I was convinced I could be a good mom.
“Did you just pick the father out of a brochure?”
If it were only that easy. But it’s not. It’s not technically that easy, and because of the way that many of us are raised in this day and age, there is something unnerving about “selecting” a father. I chose to cover all my bases. I became a patient at a local clinic that specialized in reproductive medical practices, its primary consumers were couples having fertility issues. I went through all the testing to ensure that I had functioning ovaries, the proper hormone balances, and even a counseling session to ensure that I knew what I was getting into. I chose to go with an FDA-approved facility to provide donor sperm. I learned the language of “anonymous” and “identity” donors and in the end I chose an “identity” donor which allows the child the opportunity at the age of 18 to learn the identity of their donor and the chance to contact them, which the donor has agreed to through their status as an “identity” donor. Choosing an identity donor made choosing much easier. As you can imagine, there are not many men that go this route. My choices went from hundreds to a handful after I filtered out donors on a few other criteria. I really struggled with this part of the process. As I was growing up, I was never exposed to this technology and no one had ever said to me, “when you sit down to look through a catalog of potential fathers, this is what you should look for.” In fact, any media that touched on the subject portrayed this choice as radical and almost alien. While I was thankful for all of the online groups I had joined and reading I had done to help “normalize” this, I really struggled and often felt like a failure for even taking this path towards motherhood rather than the “traditional” path. I learned that as I joined SMC groups, I often participated with biases, thinking that these women must either be lesbians (which was fine in my book) or too crazy to have a relationship (which concerned me because I wondered, did I fit into that category)? Unfair, and a really ignorant perspective, but it was there, churning inside of me every time I engaged with other SMCs. I came to learn that most of these women were successful, attractive, professional, diverse, intelligent, easy to talk to and get along with, and of course, independent.
This post has gotten long. I’m going to cut out now. Reliving this and being honest about the process can be a little draining. I hope to pick up again in the near future and address the “lighter” side of being an SMC. Thanks for reading.