We're combing through our archives for some of our best blog posts that you may have missed. This post, I Did It On My Own: Story of Single Working Mom originally appeared on our site August, 2015.
By: Stef Tarner
I didn’t start out planning to be a single, working mother. In fact, I grew up imagining a huge family: meeting the man of my dreams in college and getting married soon after; I’d have my first child of five by the time I was 24, and then start my career as a stay-at-home mom. Easy. No worries.
Except, the old adage that life doesn’t usually work out the way we plan… it applies more often than not. I didn’t meet any marriageable prospects in college and moved permanently from small town Indiana to New York City before I was 24. My boyfriend was from the East coast and, even though he was 4 years my senior, believed our twenties were too young to plan a family. So, I focused on my career in publishing and wound my way up the corporate ladder like every other ambitious twenty-something. I moved out of Manhattan a few years later, got a dog instead of having a baby, found a one bedroom apartment in an outer borough, and waited for him to tell me he was ready to start that huge family I’d always wanted.
I waited ten years before I left him for refusing to commit –about eight years too long if you asked my mother. By then, I was 33, and told by multiple specialists it would be difficult for me to get pregnant… that in fact my ideal fertility window would have been 18-26. They asked me the standard questions: Do I have a partner? Are we having regular sex? Am I monitoring my ovulation? To which I answered “no” to all three. Each doctor gave me a fake, sympathetic face, nodded sagely, took a long dramatic pause and said “it may be too late.” Well, f--k. I wanted to kick my own ass for being so stupid, and then kick the ex-boyfriend in the nut-sack for leading me on with platitudes, talks of soul mates and future children, and endless don’t worry’s. I threw a pretty fantastic pity-party: cried, wallowed in a depressing puddle of “why me?” and danced between cursing fate and mourning the child I might never have (because, hell, I still had to find someone I cared about enough to marry and father said child – it’s not like I could mail-order that dream). It was at the depth of that sorrow when I decided it no longer mattered: I would do it on my own.
I went off some of my medications, stopped drinking alcohol and excessive caffeine, started consistently buying organic, began taking prenatal and other vitamins to help conceive. I bought a Clearblue Easy ovulation prediction kit and an endless supply of sticks to pee on religiously every month. I was taking control and it felt empowering. A year and a half later, I picked out a donor from a cryobank in California – which by the way is a lot like online dating, only without the unfortunate penis-size emails from weirdos, painful first dates, and awkward thanks-but-no-thanks conversations. How do you even choose the perfect donor for your future baby? The answer: you don’t. You enter your criteria into a search – brown hair, blue/green eyes, 5’8” - 6’2” – you check out their profession, hobbies, family heritage and medical history (maybe even a photo), and then you “eeny-meeny-miny-moe” the crap out of the profiles which made it into your final round of potential sperm.
My son is beautiful…I feel truly blessed. And, aside from my second trimester where I was so randy a partner would have been very welcome, I had an amazing pregnancy (even though I was considered high-risk due to my age). I don’t at all regret my decision to have him on my own.
I’m 36 and have a solid and successful career with a salary to match; I’ve learned how to manage pressure, deadlines, and work relationships: I’m able to balance my professional and personal lives – something it took years and multiple positions to learn. I moved away from the city and bought a house my son can grow up in; I can afford to get my son everything he needs, and a lot which he probably doesn’t – something which would have been improbable and stressful even five years ago, let alone when I was 24. Yes, he’ll need a nanny or day-care instead of me staying home with him all day, but he’ll be loved beyond reason anyway.
Sometimes life doesn’t work out the way we planned -- [it] pretty much ignores us and tells us to shut up and let it work -- but in the end, it carries us to a better place than we ever imagined. We just can’t be too afraid to grab on and not let go, even all on our own.