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What I wish I knew sooner about being a single mom by choice

By Brook Cosby

You won't be lonely! One big fear around being a single mom by choice (SMC) is that you'll be all alone, and while that's true in some very real ways, there are also incredible SMC support networks. Single moms we know continually share how amazed they are by the strength of the SMC community.

You'll never be ready! Because being an SMC is such a deliberate decision, it can be hard to trust that you're ready. The truth is, there's never a perfect time to have a baby - even a highly planned baby. Letting go of being "ready" and accepting that you're "ready enough" is a big mental hurdle that many SMCs face - and wish they'd cleared sooner.

You might even be grateful to be a single parent! Raising a child is hard no matter your family configuration, but parenting without a partner means no conflict around child rearing decisions. And no renegotiating the dynamics of your relationship... And no resenting your partner for not doing enough... There's a certain ease to being the only one in charge.

You'll discover strength you didn't know you had! When you're the only one, you surprise yourself with your innovation and stamina for getting through the hard times. The feeling of accomplishment after, say, parking the car, navigating airport security and boarding a plane all by yourself with a baby (or two!) plus car seat, stroller, luggage, etc... It's a well-earned feeling of pride.

You'll need help! Mothers often fall into a trap of martyrdom, feeling like they should be able to do it all, even to their detriment. SMCs are no exception to this thinking, but you may realize sooner than partnered moms that you do need to line up some help, especially when going back to work. Whether that's help with household chores or help watching the baby so you can get some exercise or go out with friends, having a helper or two on your calendar is something to schedule sooner than later.

You'll learn to prioritize and take care of the important stuff first! When you're the only adult in the room, you can't help but consider the "what ifs" - and this awareness prompts you to get prepared: estate plans, 529 plans, guardianship arrangements, powers of attorney, health care proxies... all the "adulting" we often put off, SMCs proactively take on. And there's a feeling of freedom that comes with knowing the t's are crossed and i's are dotted.

You'll love your baby more than you can even imagine - and you'll thank yourself for being brave enough to create your amazing family.


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