Monday, May 12, 2014

Ask Cloud: Choosing to Parent Solo

I don't know about you guys, but I'm tired of posts about my career situation. So, let's talk about something else for a change, and have an Ask Cloud post that is completely unrelated to my career.

Here's the question:

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I'm just about to turn 34, single, and have always felt very sure that having children would be one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. My questions are fundamentally 1) How long do I wait hoping to meet a partner before I decide to proceed with having a child on my own?, and 2) Would I actually be able to make things work?
Here's a bit more relevant information:

I've been single now for about 2 years.  My former fiance, whom I loved dearly and really wanted to build a life with, broke things off once he decided (after a long tortuous period of introspection) that he didn't want to have kids... He ended things saying he didn't want to be responsible for denying me parenthood, because "you're someone who is made to be a mother".  Since then I've dated a good amount, and am fortunate in that I seem to be approachable and get asked out fairly often, but haven't met anyone quite right... the personalities and logistics haven't matched up in one person, yet.  I've tried to be extra social this last year in order to increase my changes of meeting someone, but am getting a bit exhausted by that, and a little disheartened.  I'm a generally happy person, and am happy on a day to day basis in my single life.  However, having had the experience of having a great partner in life, I want that again and know what I'm missing without it.  And, of course, I'd also like a partner to raise a family together with.

I've got a great job as an electrical engineer at a large company, and my job would almost certainly let me work 60% time for several years.  Yes, I'm very very lucky there.  I live very far from my family, which is a bummer since my mom is a huge kid person. But I have very good friends where I live, most of whom have young children. And I've always lived frugally (on about 50% of my after tax income) and been an aggressive saver, so, I've got a good chunk of change in the bank...enough that I could pay for an excellent daycare and occasional night nanny help.  (Moving back to my parents would mean giving up my great job and moving to an extremely high cost of living area, so, probably not the best option).

I've always loved children, and spend a lot of time around them thanks to my friends.  I've been lucky that they've included me in their families and let me be a true Auntie to their kids.  Seeing parenting up close, though, makes me aware of how exhausting and terrifying it can be.... The thought of doing it on my own makes me feel so vulnerable.  I've had several harsh reminders in the last few years about hard life can be, and I don't want to be naive.  My best friend came very close to dying 3 months after her daughter was born from a very rare postpartum complication; since then I've had nightmares of me or my child having an accident or medical issue and there being no one there to help.  I worry about how to handle the sleep deprivation (I don't handle it well), how to handle the kid being sick and unable to go to day care when I need to go to work, the work travel that I'd still need to do occasionally, the days when I'm just exhausted but I still need to get dinner on the table...   And that's all assuming the child is generally healthy!  Doing it alone, without a partner, seems really hard.  I worry that it wouldn't be fair to the kid to have a mom that chose single parenthood.  I worry that I'd become a mom, and then it would just be so hard that I'd think "this sucks!  I miss my old awesome life!  I miss my hobbies and cool travel and time for friends!".  And I worry that I wouldn't be able to do a good job at work...even as part of me thinks I'd do a better job once I knew it was my ability to take care of my family.   My gut says I'd regret not having a child more than having a child and having it be really hard sometimes.  But...how to tackle the logistics?!

I don't have any suspected fertility issues, thankfully.

I've broached the subject of having a kid on my own with 4 friends; three responded immediately with variations of "YES!  You totally should, you'd love it, and a child would be so lucky to have you as their mom.  And I'll help you".  One responded with a thoughtful "It's really hard sometimes...even with two of us to give each other a bit of a break...".

So - thoughts? Thoughts on timing and when to move from putting energy toward dating to becoming a parent? Is it crazy to think about doing it myself?  And if not crazy, just difficult, how to do it?

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I obviously have no direct experience with being a single parent at all. My first thought was that she needs to read Gwinne's blog, Something Remarkable, since Gwinne does have direct experience with being a single parent by choice and she writes a great blog about her life.

But that would be a spectacularly short answer, so I will make a few comments.

1. I have a couple of friends who have met partners via a hiking club. I don't know if any club in which a bunch of people come together to do some sort of activity would have the same effect, or if there is something special about hiking (long periods of time together?) but that is something to consider when think about finding a partner: maybe look outside the usual dating scene. As one of my friends put it, she stopped trying to find people to date and started trying to find people she liked, and then one of them turned into someone she dated.

2. If your gut tells you that you'll regret not having kids more than having them, then you should at least try to have them, in my opinion, particularly since you have the resources to help make things easier.

3. I have nothing smart to say on the timing issue, except that no obvious fertility problems doesn't mean no fertility problems, so factor that into your decision making. I will say that we had four other families over for a mini-reunion from Pumpkin's day care, and at least two of the other mothers are older than me- and one is ten years older than me (I had Pumpkin six weeks shy of my 35th birthday). So while I don't want to give the impression that you should take your fertility for granted, I also don't want to give the impression that 35 is some impossible fertility cliff.

Regardless, I have no direct experience with fertility problems, either, so I am not a great source of advice there, either.

Based on recent events, my guess is that if it were me, I'd agonize over the decision and then one day just march into a clinic and get the process started. Perhaps a better approach would be to pick some date and some criteria and say that if the criteria aren't met by that date, you're off to the clinic. For instance: "if I'm not dating someone by next December, I'm going to set up an appointment at the fertility clinic." But I don't know. This may be an aspect of the decision that is too personal for anyone else to be able to advise you.

The other thing I'll observe on this topic is that just because you haven't met a partner with whom to raise a child at the time the child is born, it doesn't mean you won't eventually meet that partner.

4. On how to make it work if you do end up going the single parent by choice route... well, that's logistics, and I love talking about logistics!

OK, it isn't all logistics. I think there is probably a big mindset piece, too. Remember, this is all from someone who is NOT a single parent, so take my observations with a ginormous grain of salt, but.... It seems to be that to be successful as a single parent, you need to really take the advice to "put your own oxygen mask on first" to heart. This has definitely become a cliche now, but it is excellent advice for all of us. I struggle to really implement it in my life, though, and what happens when I fail isn't pretty. It is a meltdown. Of course, my husband is there to take care of the kids, keep things running, and help me put myself back together when I meltdown. If I were parenting without him, I think I'd really need to work on not letting myself get to the meltdown phase, even if it meant doing something that seemed selfish to take care of myself and relieve the pressure before I reached meltdown levels.

One practical way I think you'd want to implement this mindset is in your child care and school decisions. Even as a two parent family, we factored our convenience into our day care and school decisions. I have watched friends founder on the school thing- i.e., choose a school based solely on its awesomeness and disregard the fact that it is 30 minutes out of the way. I can think of only one case where that arrangement still stands, and in that case there is an awesome car pool that has formed. In all other cases, something gave- either the kid moved schools, the family moved house, or someone quit a job. It is hard to explain the morning and evening time crunch to someone who doesn't have kids. I certainly didn't understand it before I had kids. But then my first kid needed us to really stick to a nighttime routine or bedtime took even longer,  and suddenly, having dinner at 6 p.m. became a non-negotiable thing in our house. And then we had another kid and the realities of getting two kids ready in the morning meant that the I stopped scheduling meetings before 9 a.m., even though I usually made it to the office before 8:30 (this was before the company relocated).

So anyway, your convenience matters as much as or more than the specifics of the school's curriculum. I think that is true of all decisions in parenting, really- time is finite, and the one of surest ways to create stress is to set up a situation where you are always short for time during a routine that has some sort of time boundary.

One other logistical thought: I think you'd need to be very direct in setting up your support network, and ask for specific help if someone even hints that they'd like to help. I think the key there is to think realistically about what is an imposition and what isn't. If someone at our day care or school needed our help covering child care so they could go on a business trip or what not, we would do it and it would be hardly any trouble- adding one more kid to the routine isn't a huge deal at this point. If someone whose kid went to a completely different school needed that help- well, that is a bigger ask. That is not to say we wouldn't help out, just that it would feel like a much larger favor.

In general, I want to help people out, but also don't want to imply I think they need help, so I probably don't end up offering as much help as I could. I think that you'll have to find a way to deal with that weirdness in order to set up a network of people who can help you out.

You mentioned that you're worried about sleep deprivation, so you could start as you mean to continue, and line up specific help on the sleep front. Find people who will come take your baby on a long walk so you can nap (in my experience, the baby needs to be out of the house for at least an hour for this to be useful). Some friends probably really would be willing to come over and help out with the night shift from time to time if it turns out that your baby is a night owl. Accept the help and schedule it before you feel your sanity slip away. There are night nurses and also people who will babysit overnight so that you can escape to a hotel and get a decent night's sleep. You can also decide to get a co-sleeper and then graduate to partial or full night bedsharing- you may get more sleep that way, and without a partner around to complain about being kicked out of bed, why not? You may have a baby for whom sleep training is a good fit (it wouldn't have worked on Pumpkin, but I think it would have worked on Petunia, we just preferred a different approach.) My point is, there are a lot of ways to tackle the sleep deprivation problem. Once you know what sort of sleeper your baby is, you can pick a method that works best for you.

And really, that holds for all of the issues you'll face as a parent. You're a smart person who is good at problem solving, so trust yourself to find solutions to the problems parenthood presents. The biggest challenge, in my opinion, is tuning out what "they" say you should do about a situation and then identifying the right problem to solve. Once you do that, you'll probably see a lot of possible solutions.

Readers- who has more/better advice? Please leave it in the comments.

21 comments:

  1. Let me preface this by saying that I don't have kids yet....but this is how my parents dealt with having us while living very far from family: they got a live-in nanny instead of paying for daycare. They worked together so commuted together, so this gave them coverage if there was traffic and also helped a lot with business trips. As a kid, I thought it was the BEST - I still talk to my nanny! They had a room + bathroom for her in the basement, they provided food, and she got paid as well. I think it wound up being cheaper than daycare and also gave them a lot more support/flexibility when we were sick or they were away for work. Plus, she grocery shopped, did laundry - things that they didn't have time to do. You could do this with a live-out nanny, too - I was essentially that for a family while in graduate school. That kind of help may be really valuable for you instead of your typical daycare!

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  2. This is a very personal decision.

    If you do decide to go for it, I completely agree: Hire help and reach out to a support network. My parents lived apart for their jobs while my mom was pregnant with my sister and when my sister was a baby. They didn't have much money, but my mom and sister and I lived in an apartment and had an assortment of college students doing things like getting me ready for school in the morning so my mom could get to class. I did after school care.

    In terms of sleep-- I agree, it is a lottery. And do whatever you need to do. We coslept. If I were on my own, I'd probably do a combination of cosleeping and hiring a night nanny because I cannot function without sleep.

    Definitely agree to shut out what "They" say. Do what works. They're stuck in their own cultural upbringing and don't realize that mother nature has allowed for many paths to adulthood. (Our Babies, Ourselves still my favorite "parenting" book-- basically it says trust yourself.)

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    1. I want to add (having read below comments): The choice you make *will* end up being the right one, whatever you decide.

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  3. I can understand why you feel that time is slipping away from you, but I feel like 34 is still pretty young! A lot can happen in 3-4 years. I'd wait until ... I don't know, 37? But then, I would be that fourth friend who says that it's hard even where there are two of you ;)

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  4. I'd say go for it. I know enough women who are struggling with infertility in their mid-to-late thirties (maybe they would have even when they were younger, but I guess we'll never know). Also, men's fertility does suffer with age as well (as some couples I know are finding). Whether we like it or not, nature does prefer us to have babies younger rather than older...

    Having said that, having a kid is hard (and gets harder with age, IME). One thing that gets better with age is that you are more financially established so, as Cloud and N&M and J said above, you can pay for help.

    There are many wonderful blogs by single moms by choice that I cam across either through Gwinne or InBetween. Some that I really like are Chasing Rainbows (Shannon just had her 2nd baby!) that has a whole blogroll populated by SMC's. Future Expecations had twins as SMC. Sarah of OMG There's Three! had triplets and is now dating a great guy whom she'd known a while and who is great with her kids.

    Of course, this is a personal choice, but I personally would likely go for it. I am married and have three kids and the love I have for my kids is orders of magnitude greater than anything I have felt for anyone else ever (sorry DH, and every other boyfriend ever). If you want children, you should go ahead and have them.
    IMHO, having a partner is nice, but you will be find without one.

    Good luck!

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  5. Anonymous9:13 AM

    I won't comment on logistics, as I think that has been well-covered, but I will say that the fertility gamble is a real one. I know a fellow academic couple who only got together when they were both older. The woman was I believe in her 40's. It is obvious that she SO BADLY wanted a kid or kids, but that she missed the opportunity to do so and wasn't able to make it happen once she found a partner. I haven't discussed the issue in detail with her (sensitive subject), but I'm pretty certain this is the case, and it's really heartbreaking. Yes - it will be hard - but hard is really a matter of what you're used to. If you have to get it done, you will, and you will figure it out and get through it. Ideally, you will still find a loving partner who will help raise your kid(s) from a young age, and, if you are both willing and able you can have another kid together. It would be an absolute shame to miss out on this opportunity. Just think: would you regret having a kid now? Almost certainly not. Would you regret not taking the plunge, assuming things don't work out a few years down the road? Almost certainly. It seems like the answer is there, it's just a hard one to accept.

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  6. No knows what you'll regret or not regret. You don't know, either - not for sure - although it sounds as if you believe you'll regret it more if you don't try. No one can tell if you *should* have a child; I'll join the chorus telling you that you *can* do it if you take the plunge.

    My sister-in-law was a single mom for 13 years (not entirely by choice - unintended pregnancy in an unstable relationship). She runs her own business - no paid vacation, no paid maternity leave. She had full-time group daycare and her mother came to stay a few times a year to give her a break. It's possible. The logistics will be easier for you.

    I think the most important thing Cloud says is this: make sure you put your needs high on the priority list. You can't know all of them until you have a kid - it will depend in part on the fit between you and the child. Babies have personalities from the moment they're born. It's our job to adjust to what the baby needs and also to get our own needs met, and that balancing act is hugely difficult. It's made even harder by the unrelenting messages that you're supposed to put all your needs aside to give your child everything. That is toxic bullshit. Kids don't need "the best". They need sleep, food, loving adults who have their best interests at heart, and consistency.

    A full-time nanny, either live-in or live-out, will give you the most coverage and the most flexibility, especially with a baby. I didn't want someone in my house and I didn't want to have to scramble to cover a sick nanny. Since my daughter was rarely ill and my husband could take her when she was, daycare made much more sense for us. If I didn't have a partner, I would have gotten over the thing about having someone in my house and hired a nanny. If you can afford full-time child-care while you're working part-time, that will make it *much* easier for you to manage time for yourself. I worked part-time until Eve was 7 and I had full-time child care that whole time.

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  7. Alexicographer10:03 AM

    I am pretty much with those above me in terms of thinking having a child is a personal choice, but something you (the OP based on what you have said, not a generic "you") are more likely to regret not doing than doing.

    Two things I would note -- no, most women's fertility does not fall precipitously off a cliff at the age of 35 or 37 or ... . On the other hand, three things I really had no awareness of until I started trying to conceive (with a husband whose vasectomy reversal had failed, leaving IVF as our only option in seeking to conceive a child who shared both our genes) are as follows: (1) the remarkable things modern medicine can offer those with infertility issues today notwithstanding, one thing it absolutely positively stinks at is overcoming the challenges posed by aging ovaries. Maternal age correlates very strongly, and negatively, with what assisted reproductive technology (ART) has to offer you (if using your own eggs is important to you; donor eggs are an entirely different story). So whatever else you may do, don't just figure you can afford to pay for treatment and so don't need to worry.

    (On the other hand, it is true that a variety of options including donor eggs, donor embryos, and adoption provide paths to parenthood that are not particularly sensitive to age, so don't discount their potential value if you decide to wait and find you want to explore them or that other paths are closed to you.)
    ... and ... (2) I cannot, of course, speak to your experience -- actual or hypothetical future -- but I personally was utterly floored by how important having a genetic link to my child became to me when it was a concrete decision rather than an abstract idea. I mean, really, what's not to love about donor gametes or adoption as a means of growing your family. Nothing, obviously! And yet, I personally found that I cared deeply about conceiving using my own eggs (not something I would ever have imagined nor do I consider it defensible in an abstract sense, but something I wanted very much nonetheless). As it turned out, I got lucky, but of course I might not have (since I was your age, egg freezing has also become an option and is clearly something you could explore doing now, but my sense is that its value is largely untested.). ... and (3) there is a huge difference between the fecundity of a, say, 38-year old woman who is regularly, er, exposed to opportunities to conceive and one who is seeking to conceive without such, ah, exposure. As the saying goes, "People don't cause accidents, accidents cause people." For any given woman (i.e. ceteris paribus), having regular unprotected heterosexual intercourse offers a much better chance to conceive just thanks to repeated opportunities, as compared to that same woman trying to conceive using donor sperm or (even) more involved medical treatments (unless those are indicated due to known medical issues that preclude or complicate unassisted conception). So if you do try to conceive without a partner, much better to do so younger than older, in terms of likely success rates.

    ... I have more to say, but apparently my comment is growing too long, so will continue below.

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  8. Alexicographer10:04 AM

    Final thought, unrelated to the challenges of conceiving: if there is one thing about becoming a mom that has absolutely blown me away in a negative way, it’s the challenges of parenting as an introvert. No one talks about this (presumably because everyone who’s experienced it, that is, every introverted parent, is curled up in a dark corner somewhere, sobbing quietly and rocking back and forth), but – oh. my. god. I’ve just spent a weekend solo with my kid, and he gets up at 7 a.m. and wants to talk and interact non-stop (Really. I am not exaggerating for effect.) until 9 p.m. Well, really, past 9 p.m., but that’s bedtime and it is usually possible to get him to go to bed and stay there at that point. And just to be clear, he’s cheerful! enthusiastic! cooperative! well-mannered! This isn’t about him being difficult, it’s just about him being – a kid. It would be exhausting regardless, but for someone (me) who really does best if I can have, say, 4 hours each day when I am neither having to e.g. work nor to interact with other human beings, let’s just say this is a serious design flaw. Which, don’t get me wrong, I am willing to embrace. But if I were routinely parenting solo, I’d definitely need to pay for a lot of help (I mean someone to help take care of my child, though psychiatric help also springs to mind). Now I’m pretty near the introvert endpoint of the introvert/extrovert scale, like I’ve come to realize that just having someone around who MIGHT ask me to do something (such as answer a question, converse, or pour them a glass of milk) is a net drain on my energy – which, oh: hello, young son! -- and you may not be, but, as I say, this is something I never see discussed and yet that has a huge impact on my life.

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    1. Anonymous5:02 AM

      Yes, THIS! This this this. Now small person is older, weekends are adding to my base stress level - it's even more mentally tiring, even though now the oh-no-he's-up-at-0530-again aspect has gone.

      Partner and I never really tag-teamed through sleep deprivation (we had a routine, I found I kind of got used to less sleep so long as the routine was intact), but we sure as heck do since our child stopped napping in the daytime...

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    2. Oh, well said! And so true, and so funny and terrible and rarely discussed. I think it's really possible everyone who has experienced this is still cowering in a corner somewhere, recovering.

      (Having said that ... even for an extreme introvert single parent, I'm sure it can be done. Help can be arranged. And then they grow up and get bigger and go to school and sleepovers and the roller rink all the time).

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  9. Anonymous12:42 PM

    SMC of twins here. I reached the point where I knew I'd regret it for the rest of my life if I didn't try, and luckily I was able to make it happen. Best decision I've ever made. It can be done, even with multiples, though I've definitely had to get over my traditional self-reliance and learn to just ask for help when I need it. If you haven't already looked up the Single Mothers by Choice network, I'd recommend that you do - lots of "thinkers" there as well as experienced mothers with logistical advice.

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  10. I am not a single mom, and a few nights or weeks here and there as a solo parent definitely don't qualify me to answer from that perspective. BUT I do have something to contribute.

    Parenting is hard. Period. Whether or not you have a partner. No doubt it is harder as a single parent, but IMO people should just go into it knowing it will be hard. Therefore, how difficult it is with or without a dedicated partner becomes kind of beside the point.

    You are concerned about the logistics and the sleep deprivation and missing your hobbies and doing a bad job as a mom and at work. And I get that. I'm sure ALL parents get that. And you should be concerned. But I personally don't think those fears should be the deciding factor.

    The baby years (oh, the baby years!) are especially tough and exhausting. But you know what? They don't last. Don't get me wrong, the days and nights seems like an eternity at times, but the years fly by. Cliche, but true. And the brilliance and beauty of those baby years will shine through during them and long after.

    And as they get older, you start getting more sleep. You come out of the fog and start to realize you're not doing so bad at parenting and/or at work. You start getting time to indulge in your hobbies again. Best of all? You can start sharing your hobbies with your kids! Just this past weekend, I was working on a jigsaw puzzle at my dining room table with my almost-5-year-old son sitting next to me working on his own jigsaw puzzle!

    My suggestion is that if you do some soul-searching and make the decision to have kids (on your own or otherwise), go into it knowing it will be hard, but that you CAN do it. As so many others do. Whether we read and follow every book in the library or bumble our way through it, whether we have amazing help or have to figure out how to do it ourselves, whether we are exhausted every day or revitalized by the joys of parenthood--we can do it. We can get through the tough times and enjoy the heck out of the good times.

    Finally, the best tip I received from a single mom when I was doing a few weeks straight of solo parenting was to figure out what the routine needed to be and just get it all done. It actually became hard to re-adjust to having my husband back because he wasn't part of the routine and totally interfered with it! Having a routine can be critical and help is really important, so I think that if you can make your friends or daycare or nanny or au pair part of your routine, that could really make it work out better than you expect.

    Whatever decision you make, just know that your life will be awesome either way. If you love your life now and won't regret not having them, then you'll keep on with your awesome life. If you decide to have kids (with or without a partner), your life will be awesome in a different way. Kids don't ruin lives, but they do change them. And that's not a bad thing.

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  11. Sleep really is a lottery. I'm doing a time diary study of high-earning women with kids. Anyway, the woman getting the *most* sleep was a single mom of a young child who was just extremely disciplined about going to sleep when her kid did. One of the women who got the least sleep was also a single mom of young kids...whose kids woke up all the time (I wrote about that a few months ago on my blog -- it's tough). We are talking a difference of 21 hours over the course of the week between these two women. 3 hours a night. That's what I mean by a lottery!

    Anecdotally, I'm finding in my study that some of the women who are best about getting me time and friend time are single moms. Married women might want me time, and drop hints to their husbands on the weekend that they want me time, but their husbands don't get the hint (because it's subtle and they can't read their minds) and then there are hurt feelings and puttering around the house. If it's just you, though, and you want time by yourself, you know to make arrangements. And then it happens. Anecdote, not data, to be sure. But parenting in general is about coping strategies.

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    1. Alexicographer10:43 AM

      I think there's likely some truth to the "me time" angle. My recent solo parenting weekend was tough not just because of the absence of hubby, but because a combination of scheduling weirdness on Saturday (soccer game conflicted with availability of DS's friends to play) and Mother's Day on Sunday meant I was "on" parenting the whole time, with no down time. Oh, and bad behavior on Friday caused me to say no screen time for Saturday. Yikes! A different weekend might have been much easier, and there are distinct upsides to having DH away in terms of my being less constrained with "family" activities and responsibilities (which are really "DH" responsibilities, since DS doesn't care if we eat full meals or that there's dog hair all over the living room -- and nor do I).

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  12. Kids are a real lottery. My kid woke up screaming 3-4x/night for 3.5 years until I finally convinced my husband to allow her tonsils and adenoids to be removed. It didn't affect his health b/c she wanted mommy when she woke up. Not sleeping for that long nearly killed me (no exaggeration if you knew my health history).

    People say that kids get easier and easier as they get older. I don't know what they are talking about. Mine becomes higher and higher maintenance. My friends also think that teens need more guidance than younger children.

    If your kids get into a sport, that can overwhelm your life, too.

    You need a full-time live-in nanny if you go it solo. Budget for that.

    Keep home, school and work in a tight radius. That's for your time budget.

    Good luck; it's a lottery.

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    1. I agree! I don't think that kids get easier as they get older (I just wrote about that recently). But it is a different kind of hard, at least for me and many of the parents I know. It's not the up-in-the-night-nursing-and-not-getting-much-sleep hard. For me with a 7 yo and a 5 yo, it's much more of the emotional turmoil and guidance hard, with the coordinating of schedules and activities causing the suck on my time. The differences in how it is hard has been huge for me. But it comes back to the lottery, doesn't it? It all depends on the kid(s) and the parent(s).

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    2. Alexicographer10:39 AM

      Having stepparented teenagers, I'd advise against ignoring the much-older-than 5 & 7 years, also (as badmomgoodmom notes re: the more guidance bit. But don't imagine they embrace it, even if they need it.). Believe me, 14, 16, 18 (not to mention 15, 17, and even, heck, 23) all bring their own challenges.

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  13. Anonymous12:15 PM

    I would counsel you to just do it and move forward. When my first was a newborn I would not have said that because it was very overwhelming. What I think, though, is that parenting is incredibly difficult if you are a single parent or part of a couple, and also that having children changes most relationships.

    Let's say you found someone tomorrow and then had a child together, but ended up divorced when the child was one. No one thinks that will be them. Then you would have the child you wanted but you would still be a single mom going forward. You know you will be a single mom for the first part if you go it solo, but you don't know what the future will bring.

    I think the reason I say this is because I have many friends whose marriages have foundered, and while mine has not, it is because I have ended up making compromises that may or may not be justifiable. But I am very happy to have my children and always wanted to be a mother.

    The thing is that having children and parenting changes relationships, so while it is good to have someone else to share the responsibilities with, there are no guarantees about anything.

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  14. I am a single mother (by chance, as they say, rather than choice). I make slightly below the median income for my town. I actually get the impression that I get more help from my son's father than many of my partnered friends get from their husbands (and yes, it is always husbands, I'm sorry to say). I don't have a nanny, but I am lucky to have a mother in town who can help sometimes. Mostly, though, I do everything: my two-year-old still doesn't sleep all night, although it's gotten better than it was a year ago. I am grateful that my employer is generous with sick time, though I have had to use my vacation time to supplement it a lot.

    I did not ever plan to have children, but I'm extremely fond of the one I got, and it is doable, even with little money or help. Some things are easier with more of those things; some are hard no matter what.

    I don't really have any opinion about whether or not you should go ahead and have a kid, but I'm absolutely sure that you can. I still am not sure what made me decide to go through with my pregnancy. I wish I could, but I suspect it's a gut level thing that defies explanation.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Anonymous7:00 PM

    Thank you so much Cloud for posting my questions and your wise thoughts, and for all the really thoughtful comments! I'm really appreciative of the in depth and detailed responses, and the benefit of your (more experienced) perspectives. I'll be thinking about the importance of a small home-work-daycare-school geography, and being an introvert, and how a single mom would be the person who gets the most (or least) sleep, fertility gambles, figuring out the routine, and the fact that if it was just me, I'd HAVE to take good care of myself and build lots of support into the routine...and all the rest. Thank you for all the things you brought up, and for the general perspective that this would be difficult, yes, but doable=)

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete

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