WHAT. A. WHIRLWIND.
In all honesty I had a whole other blog post written to share today, but as the week unfolded since my announcement Monday I decided something more raw and less bubbly-blogger was needed. Yes, of COURSE I’m so excited, and this is everything I’ve ever dreamed of coming to fruition, but there’s a LOT more than that to say!
First – thank you, thank you, thank you. I had been counting down to when I got to share the news with my followers since pretty much day one, and I spent countless hours trying to mentally prepare myself for all of the judgemental, scary and maybe even cruel responses that were sure to come. I know my story is controversial in a lot of ways, that it doesn’t fit what society expects, especially from a blogger, and when I put my post up Monday I was ready to go to war for my right to be a mother on my own terms.
And then something strange happened. Love.
You guys showed me so much love it almost made my heart explode. Yes I was absolutely sure this was right for me, but I absolutely expected the general population to find it, well, a bit crazy. Instead my comment sections were filled with words like “so proud of you”, “empowering stuff” and “love this story”. I had a massive flood of messages from other women who have similar plans or are already on their way to being single parents too. A few even mentioned how isolated they’ve felt for wanting to be moms from a young age. So many happy tears were shed, stories shared and questions politely and respectfully posed. So above all, thank you – I really expected the worst earlier this week, and I ended up feeling like reality was even better than my best case scenario.
Of course nothing is ever ALL positive, especially when challenging the norm is at play and this conversation ended up spreading far past my amazing, supportive, sparkly feminist community, all the way onto Wednesday’s episode of The Social (a popular Toronto talk show, for the non-Torontonians here). It was super interesting to see the dialogue that came up when my story was shared with a totally different audience, and though the commentary from the hosts wasn’t all positive (you can watch the clip here) I think they all raised really good points… a few of which I’d love to speak to, because I’m sure other people have the same criticisms in mind! Here’s what stood out to me as comments to address:
If you’re going to do this, you have a responsibility to ask your parents and friends first, because they’re all going to have to chip in //
Yes, community is absolutely crucial in this choice, whether it involves your blood related family or not. I am extremely lucky to have a massive, strong support system comprised almost entirely of people who jumped at the chance to be a part of this baby’s life. Their faith in me and my ability to be a good mother played a big part in my decision making process. It was not something I “just decided”, it was something I hashed out and contemplated with my people for years before taking any steps toward making it a reality.
It’s a selfish decision //
This was the criticism I was most afraid of when I went public with my story, and though I can understand where Sonia is coming from as a single mother herself, I think she made her comments with the assumption I had made this choice on a gust of whimsy, without a real consideration of the sacrifice and hardship involved. Now I am the queen of whimsy, you guys know that, but when it comes to children I do NOT mess around. I thought about this every hour of every day for literal years – it consumed me in ways I didn’t know that something could. I weighed out my options and I know that for me, personally, dealing with the heartbreak of a divorce would be much more detrimental to me and my child than me building up my life, doing this thing on my own and worrying about finding that big love later on. Of course it would be nice to have met the love of my life, had babies and stayed together forever, but I wasn’t going to try and force that only to watch it go up in flames, potentially impacting my child’s ideas about love in the process. I say if the shoe doesn’t fit… make your own more realistic, better-fitting shoe!
Are you romanticizing the notion of motherhood a little too much? At 27 it’s going to impact every single aspect of you’re life. She doesn’t know what yet because she’s not there //
Of course NO person can prepare for the insanely difficult, messy, stressful, terrifying journey that is being a first time parent, in any situation, but I have done my absolute best to try. I work in childcare with my church, I spend a ton of time with my friends who are moms, I have a line of candid conversation open with my own mom about her struggles with postpartum depression and parenting, plus I have this amazing community of moms on the internet at my fingertips that have already been so helpful! I have heard the horror stories, I have wiped the tears, I have witnessed the sleepless nights – I get it, this shit isn’t “cute”, its the ride of a lifetime… but I’m as ready for that ride as I’ll ever be, and there isn’t anything more important to me than this adventure.
If she’s taken the time to build her village before, then I have more respect for her choice, but I don’t know that she’s done that //
As mentioned above, I wouldn’t dream of having a baby on my own without a kick ass community to help me do it, and I am thankful every moment of every day for the expansive village that has built itself up around me in this journey. I can’t wait for this baby to meet all of the inspiring, strong and talented role models who are so unwaveringly a part of our lives.
You bring a child into this world, you need money! You need stability! //
Of COURSE this is the ideal scenario, yes, and luckily I have the privilege of having a great financial situation and lots of stability without a man. I don’t think those things are mutually exclusive, stability and not having a relationship – it’s entirely possible to have one without the other, and had I had a child with one of the men I dated over the years, I always would have been the one with the financial stability in the relationship anyway. What can I say – I work hard, and I’ve been saving for this dream, for parenthood in general, for a long time! Not to say that’s mandatory though – so many people, single or coupled, have babies on a budget and make it work!
And now, onto YOUR questions! I’ve always been an open book when it comes to my writing, and I really want to create a lot of dialogue around this subject specifically, so feel free to DM or comment below if I left something out and I’ll make sure I address it in the coming months!
How did friends and family react to this decision? //
It was genuinely shocking to see how many people in my life were immediately on board, I think because the people closest to me know how badly I want to be a mother for such a long time now. Of course there were doubts and lots of really helpful critical conversations where friends and family brought up their concerns and we worked through them together. Being able to hold my own in these conversations only further solidified I was on the right track.
Did you have any fears? Such as will it be harder to meet someone? Sad? Lonely? //
I have this blessing/curse where I commit to an idea and don’t look back, which really came into play here. My biggest fear, above anything else, was to miss my chance to be a mother. Every other fear faded into the background when compared. So I made a mental switch to create my own happy ending, not something sad or lonely or disappointing, just a different romantic narrative. Here’s what it sounds like:
We live in a world where women are told we can be anything we chose, masters of our own destiny, so why should becoming a mother still be dependant on finding the right man first? I have no doubt at some point I’ll find a life partner, or at least have a handful more great loves down the line, and in my books having a baby doesn’t contradict that, it compliments it. Someone who doesn’t have the same goals, values and desires simply won’t date me, which automatically weeds out anyone I would have wasted my time on. I think a massive part of my problems when it comes to dating were rooted in pressure, because it was so undeniable that I knew what I wanted and generally it was terrifying to potential suitors. I constantly felt held back and slowed down, limited by love, and I’ve always known that if I waited for “the right person” and found them too late, I’d never forgive myself.
I have faith my great love will come along, they’ll just have to be ok with fitting into the family I’ve already built instead of building it from scratch with me. The right person will only love me more for being a proud mother.
How long did it take before you felt fully ready to make this decision? //
I seriously thought about it every day for years, but I only felt pushed to make some sort of official plan a couple years ago around age 25. Having a deadline and a strategy made me feel more in control of my own destiny, and when I hit 27 and the need for a baby was effecting everything in my life (relationships, career choices, holidays and special events), I knew it was time to actually take the leap.
What are you most looking forward to as a single parent? I find that most are asked “what’s the scariest thing about being a single parent?” but I’d love to see the narrative turned around to things to look forward too rather than things to fear. //
LOVE THIS! I think I’ll have to say living in our own magical little world of make believe without anything to get in our way. No drama or parental disagreements, no relationship stress, just fort building and snuggles. Pure, uninterrupted play time where it’s just us and our imaginations. Some people may think being alone with a child sounds sad or scary, but to me it sounds like freedom from all things adult, if only for those small special pixie dust moments.
Are you still with C3 church? Do you plan to raise your baby Christian? //
Really great question! I do still attend, though some of the policies on the C3 global site have raised a lot of concern for me and until I get more answers from my church leadership I’m not totally sure about what particular Toronto church I will continue to grow with. I love my C3 Toronto family so much, and it absolutely feels like home on a personal level, but I just can’t be a part of an organization that opposes gay marriage, even at a distant top level. That said I do plan to raise my baby with some aspects of modern, inclusive Christianity – I think believing in something bigger than yourself and having a strong moral compass, whatever that means for you, is really super important. I will never force my child to attend church or believe what I believe however, those choices will be up to them when they’re able to decide, the same way my parents left my own spirituality up to me.
Did you rely on any sort of support system in making the decision? //
Absolutely. As much as I’d love to say “whatever, just go for it”, I think it’s endlessly important to have a lot of really dedicated, loving people on board if you’re going to take this route, not only for the sake of your future sanity, but so your child grows up with lots of different role models from different walks of life too.
How are you functioning with morning sickness? //
I have been one of those rare lucky women who didn’t really get that sick – sure I’ve had food aversions, but I never actually threw up a single time, and now that I’m in trimester 2 I feel pretty close to 100%. I will say eating small amounts of plain foods ALL the time really helped the first couple months and hydrating heavily was another big one. Also, don’t deprive yourself of naps! If you can, nap, nap all the time. It helped me so much to snooze here and there, and it’s good new mom training too.
Will you be finding out the sex of the baby? Or let it be a surprise when you give birth? //
No gender reveal parties here folks – we’re all just going to have to wait and see until the moment baby is born (yes, even me.) I love a good surprise and this is the ULTIMATE one!
How did your parents first react to your decision? First shock and then excitement? Or only excitement to be grandparents, love and support since the beginning? //
It was definitely a process. My parents are super supportive of everything I do, but we also have a very open honest relationship, so if they’re skeptical of something they say it. When I first suggested the idea to my mom she raised all the usual points like “Alyssa, it’s going to be really hard, you have no idea”, and insisted I’d needed to move home to Vancouver for support if I was serious. As my mom warmed up to the idea with time, listening to all the reasons I was confident it WOULD work, my dad refrained from chiming in, though as one point when I pushed the issue he said something like “it just seems really forced”. They were unsure about my plans to say the least, but I think the more serious I was about it the more seriously they started to take it. In early Spring they came to visit me at my new apartment and it was clear by then that my mom was fully on board, but my dad still sort of kept quiet on the subject. Apparently on their car ride back to the airport my dad turned to my mom and said “You know, I was worried about this plan Alyssa has, but seeing her home and the life she’s built, I really do think she can do it. I think she’s ready.”
I got pregnant two weeks later, and my dad likes to think it was his blessing that sealed the deal. They were still definitely in shock when I called them crying my eyes out screaming “I’m pregnant” into the phone so soon after their visit, but within seconds shock turned to nothing but excitement. They’re probably reading this and crying happy tears / shopping for baby clothes right now (there have been a lot of those in my family lately).
How do you deal with negativity towards your decision to be a young single parent? //
I think I’ve accepted negativity as an important step toward widening the conversation. If someone is being negative, they likely feel their views are being challenged in some way and rather than get down about it I see it as an opportunity to stretch their perspective a little, if only an inch. Chances are if someone has a concern it’s something I’ve already thought of myself and then worked through while preparing for all this, so it doesn’t scare me.
What are you most excited for and least excited for as a mom? //
I’m definitely most excited for our future adventures, to show this baby the magical world around us with music, vacations, stories and snuggles. In my books, it’s never too early to start teaching them how to dream!
Least excited… definitely sleep deprivation. I really, REALLY love to sleep.
Have your pets noticed a change? //
I don’t think they have yet! I am working with K9X, an amazing dog trainer, to get Mylk ready for baby because he’s SO big and still very young. I want the whole fur family as prepared as possible!
Would you share how potential sperm donors reacted when you approached? //
Oh gosh, was that ever a funny experience. I spoke to a lot of different men long before I had actually started trying, gauging interest. A couple guys said they were up for it but then backed out when it was actually go time, others had their own timeline in mind that didn’t work with mine. All of them took some time to think about it and speak with their partner (in the case they had one) and all were surprisingly logical and respectful. I’ve even had some men in my life come to me since the announcement and say “hey, why didn’t you ask me!”
Photos by Ainsley Rose