I am currently 34 weeks pregnant. I am a mid twenty-something millennial, living at home, and pursuing my bachelor’s degree. Although I live at home rent free (a gift I can’t thank my parents enough for) I financially support myself in every other way. I pay my own insurance, car payment, credit card bills, tuition, buy my own toiletries, food, etc. I have a steady job and I am working hard to improve my life. I should probably also mention that I am single.
To say this pregnancy was not planned is obvious to say the least. I was actively trying to prevent pregnancy and yet — here I am. 34 weeks pregnant. Huge, uncomfortable, and a lot of the time, in pain. In 6 or so odd weeks, I will be a single parent. Was this my choice? Yes and no.
I knew I would be alone in this as soon as the second pink line appeared on the pregnancy test. The father of my child is an amazing person who I care about a lot. But I knew based on past conversations and our current circumstances that his involvement would not be possible. (I hate to be so vague about it – actually, no, I don’t. That is a very personal and private matter that I believe should remain private). Do I want to be a single parent? Do I want my child to not have a father? Do I want him to miss out on being involved in his child’s life? No. In that sense, I did not choose to be a single parent.
But I did have options. I could have opted to end the pregnancy. I could have chosen to continue it and give the baby up for adoption. But I didn’t. I chose to have and raise this child, knowing I would be doing it alone. In that sense, I suppose I did choose to be a single parent.
Is this how my life was supposed to turn out? You’re asking the wrong person. I have always had a hard time picturing my future, and sometimes I feel as though that is why I have a hard time making decisions regarding my future. How am I supposed to know what to go to college for when I can’t picture myself in a particular career ten years down the road?
I have never had a clear path leading me to a specific goal. I find that often makes decisions difficult for me. If I am not sure of what I want, how can I make decisions to lead me there? But one thing I did always see was a baby. A baby boy to be exact. Certainly not now, and not under these circumstances, but in the future, yes.
I could always see him. Either in my head or in my heart, maybe both. He had brown hair, big brown eyes, a devilish laugh, quick wit, and a charming, extroverted personality completely opposite of my own introverted personality. He existed. But in these visions there was never a father. Not because he didn’t exist or because I didn’t want a father involved in my son’s life; he was just simply never there. I like to think he was just off somewhere, maybe at home or at work. But I always thought he was there, somewhere, waiting for us.
But that isn’t how things turned out. I guess I was right to see a baby. But it seems that there won’t be a son in my life, there will be a daughter. Something that has been confirmed time and time again, by numerous ultrasounds, by multiple ultrasound technicians, even without my asking for confirmation. Yes, yes, I get it. There is no penis. There will be no penis. It’s not a boy. Stop rubbing it in!
Not that it matters anymore. It is this baby that I am attached to. The baby that has strong reactions to fruit. The baby that kicks me hard and repeatedly when I stop playing her music. The baby that has turned her back to us during every ultrasound I have been given. The baby that kicked the Doppler out of my doctor’s hand when he tried to listen to her heartbeat. This little girl. She is who I am attached to.
But with that feeling of attachment comes a ton of worry.
I have been told by numerous people that I am lucky. I am told that I am lucky that I won’t have to deal with courts and lawyers to fight for custody and child support. I am lucky that I won’t have to deal with a bitter ex-spouse who uses our child to hurt me. I am lucky that I won’t have to share the responsibility of making crucial decisions such as what to name her and how to raise her.
They think that I am lucky that I will not have to deal with the drama of co-parenting with someone you are not in a relationship with. And I suppose, in a way, they are right. Those are headaches that I will not have to deal with. But would I go as far as to say that I am lucky? No.
Do I envy them and the issues they have to deal with when it comes to co-parenting with an ex? Absolutely not. But their kids have another parent that is invested and devoted to being a part of their life, and for that, I think their kids are pretty damn lucky. And that is who I think of first in this — my child. I worry that not having a father in her life will affect her. I worry that despite my best efforts, she may feel unloved and unwanted because he isn’t in her life.
I would share the decision making and give up time with her if it meant he could be involved in her life. It would be what is best for her. How could I put my pain and frustration above that? I suppose the difference of opinions boils down to the illusion of the grass always being greener on the other side.
But the bottom line is that there is nothing one-dimensional about being a single parent. Every single parent’s situation is different. Some choose to do it on their own, others are forced into it by circumstance, and some parents, who are single and co-parenting with an ex, wish they were doing it alone.
My situation is unlike any other. It is mine and mine alone. I don’t feel that I can fairly speak about anyone else’s situation as a single parent, because I am not living it.
I am a firm believer that very few things in life are black and white. There is almost always a gray area, and I definitely think being a single parent fits into that category. I am going to try to keep that in mind for the future. My baby is not here yet, so I am fully aware that there are many things that I have yet to be exposed to as a single parent.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers. But I do have the best intentions.