RAISING KIDS AS A SINGLE MOM BY CHOICE
BY CANDICE KATHERINE OF SINGLE MOM MINDSET
When I was a little girl, my parents never discussed the many options available to me as an adult woman. Like most of us, I assumed I’d find my soulmate, get married, and have a family. Temporarily, I did find myself in that situation. I was engaged to be married and had my baby girl. Unfortunately, that perfect family didn’t work out well for me. Following my separation, I found myself at a crossroads. As a newly single mother, forging a new path was a challenge and a beautiful blessing. It took some time, but my separation was the most incredible turning point of my life.
After soul searching, I discovered donor conception. I learned that there were, in fact, other options for women and mothers. Wanting to expand my family without a partner was an option. I felt led to a journey to creating my second child, my son, with the help of donor sperm, fertility doctors, and my eventually supportive family. He is the perfect addition to our little family.
Through sharing our story, we’ve connected with several other families like us. It has led us to friendships we otherwise wouldn’t have made, a community of like-minded people and women that get it. I was recently chatting with a fellow single mom by choice, Anna, and she used the phrase “unpacking the fairytale” to describe the process of ridding ourselves of outdated societal narratives about family. She said it perfectly. Connecting with women that understand we can choose a different path and do so with grace and empowerment is a gift. Their support and friendship are something I wish for every woman on this journey.
My own experiences with breaking tradition have also evolved my parenting style. My daughter, who is now eight, comes home with an array of touching stories. She is a mini-educator in her own right. Not only does she encourage her teachers to use inclusive language, but she also informs her classmates of the wide range of family structures. On several occasions, her teachers have habitually used “mom and dad”; my daughter has encouraged them to use “parent” or “guardian” instead. She explained that not every child lives with both mom and dad, emphasizing the importance of using language that suits every child’s family.
All of her friends know that her baby brother is donor conceived. Although they don’t understand the science, they can grasp that he doesn’t have a father. Also, how that doesn’t mean he is lacking something. He has a grandpa, uncles, aunts, a nana, a nanny, and tons of love from our chosen family. We shine a light on the things and people we do have while limiting focus on what we don’t. Kids are brilliant at learning new things with an open heart. We can learn so much from them. Not only have teachers reached out to me about how wise she is, but how quick she is to embrace every friend and meet everyone with kindness. The openness in our home about family structures and how love is the main ingredient of a family has encouraged many other conversations about acceptance.
The pride felt as their mother, knowing my babies are growing up understanding that they have choices in life. Knowing I will support them no matter what is a colossal gift. They are encouraged to go off the beaten path, explore what their heart feels called to, and challenge their peers and educators to think differently. With that, I know they will do well when they eventually leave the nest. Not that I’m in a hurry – they can stay forever, especially if they do their laundry!
It’s funny what happens when you become a parent. All the experiences you lived as a child are opportunities for change with your own kids. The little girl in me didn’t know she had options. Now, my children know the possibilities are endless. Whether they choose a family structure like ours, the white picket fence and golden retriever, or something entirely different, they know they have my undying support. Ultimately, that is what we all seek – acceptance, love, understanding, and support.
What a different world we’ll live in when we all collectively choose to embrace what we don’t understand. For the first twenty-something years of my life, I believed I knew what family meant. The engagement ring, the promises, the spacious apartment, and the romantic shared meals were all wonderful. They fit the script for everything I’d been taught. However, it wasn’t until all that fell apart that I was gently nudged into learning what true love really is. The love I feel for my two babies (yes, although they are eight and two, they are still my babies) is what my heart was truly craving. Our little family unit is everything I ever desired. I just wasn’t given the space to understand how whole a family can be, simply based on the amount of love shared, not the titles of the people in it.
To learn more from Candice, follow her on Instagram and listen to her podcast! If you’re ready to start your journey as a single mother by choice using donor conception, start the search for your ideal donor today.