The traditional model of pregnancy in the United States is one that inevitably includes a significant other - or at least, that’s the one most often depicted. But, it's time that solo mothers (here defined as mothers experiencing pregnancy without a significant other) get the spotlight. At Hibiscus Motherhood, we celebrate the fact that motherhood does not take a single form; everyone's journey into motherhood manifests differently, and we'd like to take this time and space to discuss -and seriously commend- those who take it on solo.
The circumstances that lead to mothers experiencing pregnancy and subsequently their postpartum period on their own is, first and foremost, their business. We are not privy to know why, nor should we be. So, go forth and spread the message to your nosy Aunt Kathy, who ferociously gossips about mothers' "unconventional" approaches. Perhaps it's apropos to pose it to her in her dialect -one filled with outdated clichés, that is: "If you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all."
Suppose your Aunt Kathy absolutely must delve into the reasons motivating solo-motherhood. Well, mothers may find themselves in solo motherhood for a multitude of reasons. For example, a mother may design their solo motherhood journey without a partner, perhaps opting for a sperm donor. You may even remember J-Lo's rendition of this same decision in the film The Back-Up Plan. In the film, J-Lo decides she is done waiting for Mr. Right to start a family and gets artificially inseminated. In the very taxi she hails leaving her insemination appointment, she meets Mr. Right. A staple meet-cute? Absolutely, but unlikely to happen in real life, of course. Rom-com digression aside, it’s important to note that some moms, like J-Lo’s character, leap into single motherhood by design.
However, single motherhood does not always present itself as an elective. Some mothers may be presented with the tricky fact that their significant other or the biological father may be unfit, unwilling, or unable to engage in the parenthood journey. For some mothers, they are painfully jolted into this position when the unthinkable happens, and their significant other passes away. Consequently, the best or only course of action is that some mothers must undertake the solo journey for the health and well-being of themselves and their babies. Ultimately knowing it's not our place to judge, there is value in considering the distinction that some mothers design solo- motherhood and others fall into it circumstantially. Hopefully, it may better foster our understanding that we are not here to make assumptions, but rather, offer support no matter what form of motherhood.
Regardless of why mothers enter motherhood independently, we have some tips to help you navigate this incredible journey. These tips are grounded in confidence that you can do this- but mindfulness that your well-being should not be subsumed to your baby. Your happiness, health, and holistic sense of well-being are critical in raising your beautiful little one. We can't have you being a wonder woman when your cup isn't full. So- let's talk tips for upholding this!
Embarking on independent motherhood doesn't mean you can't ask for support. Now, repeat that a few times. As you navigate being pregnant independently, make a point of exploring and defining who your support network is. Although there is a stereotype that pregnancy is a mission isolated to two, a mother has a village behind her. For example, think about your family, friends, co-workers, or even professional support like doulas or counselors. These individuals will prove to be an incredible foundation for you as you navigate motherhood. Asking for help does not diminish the extraordinary strength it takes to embark on independent motherhood. If anything, it preserves it because you are at your best when you are supported and sound.
As pregnancy "tasks" emerge, like birthing classes and prepping your nursery, consider asking your support network for help. It is critical to deconstruct the notion that these pregnancy tasks are strictly for just you. Society's prescribed “shoulds,” like who should be joining you, can go out the window. Our answer to who should be joining you is plain and simple: the people who will best support and energize you. Be it your brother, your mother, your best friend, your co-worker who loves her role as a mother, or heck, even your Aunt Kathy- should she offer you your desired source of support. It all comes down to having the right support, not necessarily the right romantic partnership.
Who better to be empathetic than moms in the same boat? Consider joining a group of other single mothers or parents who can help be an understanding support system. This group will likely have valuable insights and shared experiences, all of which can help you along your journey.
When it comes to finding such support groups, you have some questions to figure out for yourself. For starters, it is worth understanding what form provides you the most value- virtual or in-person. Next, do you value flexibility, and does this need to be reflected in your group? Finally, what kind of relationships, and their depth, are valuable to you? These are all great starting points in calibrating what resources you should try, if at all, to vie to join.
For more specific advice, LoveToKnow provides an article that walks you through identifying and ultimately joining the right single-parent community for yourself.
A likely pressing worry about single motherhood is the fact it entails a single income. With a baby on the way, it is critical to dedicate time to empower yourself with a fundamental sense of financial literacy. To illustrate, Business Insider wrote an article outlining the cost of having a baby in the United States. It notes that, on average, to have a baby in the United States costs $10,808. That's not even beginning to think about how much your baby will cost until they reach 18 years old. Spoiler, the USDA averages it to be $284,570.
Try to take active steps in budgeting. Start to be adamant about looking at where your income is currently going and, conversely, where it should be going. Budgeting is an invaluable tool, one of which will help you secure your financial capacity and well-being while raising your baby.
If we were to summarize the takeaway from all of this into two, they would be: have confidence in your ability to do this and do not feel deterred from asking for help. What you are embarking on is an incredibly commendable adventure; raising a baby, nevertheless on your own, is no small task. It is of paramount importance that you understand you can do this on the contingency that you do not forget to care for yourself in the process. To perhaps drive it home, here's one more Aunt Kathy cliché:
"Self-care is not selfish; you cannot serve from an empty glass."
At Ahma & Co, we understand the fundamental truth that while motherhood is inexplicably beautiful and rewarding, it requires an astonishing amount of energy. Perhaps, this is even more true for those embarking on single motherhood. Our mission is to ensure that every mother- whether solo or accompanied- makes the transition into motherhood with confidence, joy, and comfort by providing the right resources, education, and community. To learn more about what we do, click here.