Thursday, April 10, 2008

Single Mom Diary

I want to be a mother more than I need a husband.

Article written by Kimberly Forrest

We all grew up believing the fairy tale: You meet Mr. Right, and soon after, start having kids. But what if he never comes along? What if things don't go as planned and time starts running out? Meet the new breed of single-by-choice moms.

You know that old saying about jumping on a plane at a moment's notice? That was me. Positano. Kyoto. Istanbul. Paris. It might sound like an oxymoron, but a sense of freedom has been my life's organising principle. I've developed a solid reputation as a freelance fashion writer, making a good living and working out of my rent-stabilized apartment in New York City's West Village. I'd often find myself thinking, What more could I want?
In the fall of 2006, I'd just gotten out of a serious relationship and turned 40, and I thought that casual might be just the thing. (Read: I was scared to feel anything poignant and lovely and painful again.) Enter Luis, my kickboxing instructor. He was young and exciting, and after dancing in the ring for months, we started dating. Our fling was lighthearted and fun — he joined me at a spa for New Year's, and in March we went to a wedding in Brazil. The trip was gorgeous, but by that time our relationship was on the wane.

Fast-forward a month-and-a-half, and my period was late. I took back-to-back pregnancy tests at the home of my friend Jean — they're both positive. She yelped with joy while I, strickened, squeezed limes for a watermelon margarita. Until now, my idea of a timeline for having kids had been, "Maybe in 10 years." But I'm 41 and filled with fibroids. What are the chances of ever conceiving again? I took a teeny sip of the margarita and, without thinking twice, knew that I was going to have the baby, with or without Luis. The next day, Luis stopped by my apartment, and I told him "I'm pregnant" before he closed the door. He sank into the sofa. "I don't want to get married," he said. "Neither do I," I replied, knowing that no matter what happened between us, "I am keeping this child". I told Luis that he could do whatever he wants — be a father to our child or not — and that I wouldn't resent his decision. (Naive? Perhaps, but that's how I felt.)

"You know that I never wanted to have kids," he said "And certainly not right now. But if you want to have the baby, I'll do whatever I can to support your decision." Translation: "You're mostly going to do this on your own, and I'm not a bad guy." We talked about our ideas of what a serious relationship would be. He wanted to fall in passionate love. I told him I don't believe that's sustainable — to me, love is a partnership, negotiated and planned. "I find that heartbreaking," he says.

I was miserable at month two. Swollen legs. Gas. Unable to digest anything. I woke after 12 hours of sleep in a pool of saliva on my John Robshaw, sari-print pillowcases. Friends dropped by to check on me, but all I could muster was a wan smile before going back to staring out the window. The months dragged by, and I reached a state of sadness I've never felt before. I wondered how I was ever going to manage this. Then a funny thing happened at the amnio. The doctor announced that I was carrying a girl, and with my friend Christine holding my hand, I observed this little being who has made her home inside me. I was awed by the architecture of her spine. The beat of her tiny heart. The way she responded with a jab of her own. A week later I felt her move for the first time — our own covert communication.

As I write this, I'm nine months pregnant. Luis joins me for birthing classes, but not a hint of our former romance remains. It might not sound like a storybook ending, but it's the right one for me. Although I've been wildly independent since I was a child, and it was fun to hop a jet for a long weekend in Miami, I've always craved the warmth of family — the sounds of the dishwasher running in the kitchen, a Sunday morning spent listening to public radio and making pancakes. Now I know I can have all of those things and I'm not alone.

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