Sometimes I wonder what to write here about being a single mother as opposed to just being a mother. Honestly, most of my thoughts, hopes, dreams, concerns, etc. are about being a parent. It really doesn't matter what sort of parent you are. But there are occasionally points where I think, "Oh yeah, this is where being a single mother makes it particularly tough."
One of those things is when I have any event to attend that is outside of work/nursery hours. My job doesn't require much travel, but there are occasional opportunities to take part in events that would require me to be away from Cambridge in the 'nursery window'. If I had an obliged partner, I could just have them take care of MJ when those events come up. As it stands, I have to think very carefully about whether I want to pay for a babysitter, lean on my boyfriend, or turn the opportunity down. And I find that a lot of time I turn opportunities down. Because there are too many sometimes. I have to be choosy. And that's just business opportunities. Then there are personal opportunities- drinks after work, dinner with friends. All of those are pretty much off my radar. Again, if there was a guaranteed second supporter of MJ, we would negotiate these things. But as it's all me, my default position is that taking care of her is my number one priority and other stuff comes second. This will hopefully become a bit easier as she gets a little older and the people I can lean on to watch her expands (some people aren't overly keen or able to watch a small baby, and she is also at an age where she needs to really know the person I leave her with- it's not good enough if I know the person really well). So there's that.
The other thing I think about is how this impacts my decision about more than likely only having one child. I'm not upset about only having one child, in fact I'm perfectly happy with one child. But my 'Plan A' of life included getting married to someone and having 2 children. I can tell that I'm not really in a place to seriously think about a second child, because I'm still going through some of the tough stages with number 1 and when I think 'Would I want to do this all over again while still watching an older MJ?' the answer in my head is a resounding 'NO'. Aside from the fact that I often feel I'm at capacity taking care of just the two of us, I also think about things like how much I enjoy taking MJ to swim lessons. Well, if I had another child, aside from it being questionable if I could afford swim lessons for a second child, what would I do with MJ while taking the new child swimming? This is where another set of hands would again make the decision much easier. I can do a lot with me and her. And I suppose if I had twins, where the children are of the same age and could do the same things, I would find a way to manage two. But two of a different age? With different needs and requirements? I can't be present for one and just leave the other dangling. So this reinforces my other feelings about having a second child. I can see how I could manage with another parent and live the life I want to live with my children, but I can't quite see how it works with just me.
On balance though, I have a great job that I love, and I don't mind that I can't go to as many evening events as I used to. And as I said, I feel reasonably sure I only want one child on my own anyway, so my thoughts on managing a second solo simply reinforces what I already think, which is fine. But otherwise, my days are filled with waiting for MJ to walk on her own, dealing with sleep issues, fighting over brushing teeth and wearing bicycle helmets, my heart melting when she says mama and gives me cuddles, and all the other things that just come with regular parenting and have nothing to do with being a single mom at all. Which I guess I'm glad for- how little being a 'single' mom actually matters in my parenthood practice, as much as it is at the core of my parenthood identity.