Monday, July 23, 2012

The SMC Blog Has Moved!

Please join us at our new home: This is now the website of the Single Mothers by Choice organization and the blog is now incorporated into our web site. We are very excited about our  website and hope you will visit us there soon!
Jane Mattes

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The SMC Blog has Moved!

Please join us at our new home: This is the new website of the Single Mothers by Choice organization and the blog is now incorporated into our web site. We are very excited about our new website and hope you will visit us there soon!
Jane Mattes

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Freedom Friday: In praise of the single mother

Last week I was almost on a radio show. I was asked, by a new ether friend, and single mother sensation, Issa Mass aka SingleMomNYC, and Your Single Parenting, to be the voice of the single mother who celebrates that role and finds the joy in it. I was asked to share things I have learned along the way that make it easier: "What I was hoping you could bring to the conversation were the things that you do (or are discovering), to recharge your batteries, and allow you to find enjoyment, satisfaction and perseverance in this sometimes challenging job of Single Mom. Whether it be mantras you repeat to yourself, physical exercise, time with friends, or anything else be that adds enjoyment to your journey as a single mom, please share your perspective on how you are committed to enjoying your time as a single mom."

Although, as is often the case in the big world, versus the humble world of the blog, things happen, plans shift. Although I was understandably disappointed that the show had been postponed, the offer was a big boost to me in and of itself. The morning before the show, when I was looking out at all this snow I had to shovel, on my own, I felt pumped up. Here was a challenge: how do I remove eighteen tons of snow from the neck of my driveway with a bum foot, and two sleeping children I don’t want freaked out if they wake and I’m not here? The story ends with two sleeping boys, a shoveled driveway, and me sitting with my bare feet in the snow on my front steps sipping my instant coffee, thinking; “I amaze me.”

“What were you doing? There was a man in the house, and you were shoveling snow? Not uh. Not me. You deserve all the pain you get today from your foot. Stubborn!” My southern friend N declared later that morning. Yes. But the whole time I was thinking, this is one reason I LOVE being a single mother. Not because I have a crazy chip saying I can conquer the world (partially true) but because there is so much satisfaction in problem solving, organizing, and when I need, asking for help. (My brother had shoveled the driveway, twice the day before, without me asking. He enjoys snow.) Being a single mother can be for me for me, the opportunity to prove to myself, and my children, how capable I am. And, I love that.

So if you're a single parent by choice, or circumstance, I believe there is almost always reason to celebrate what we can do. Enjoy when people marvel at your resiliency, and success in pulling it all together. Buy yourself flowers after shoveling the driveway, or make yourself a card that says; “Brava!” and tape it by your bed. Take great joy in your ability to do what some partnered people can barely pull off with two on good day.

It’s not easy, but one thing I have learned to do, is sit with the success of it, and tell my children often, how proud I am of myself. And, they’ve learned how to play right along; “Way to go Mom!” I often hear. “Your really parallel park well!” Hey, I’ll take it.

Catherine/Mama C For more, go to:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Modern Family

Years ago, when I made the decision to become a SMC (Single Mother by Choice) and began perusing the profiles of dozens of potential sperm donors, I was clear about one thing: I planned to use an open donor. Like most people, I’d heard plenty of stories about adopted kids who yearned for details about their biological parents, and I wanted to make sure that if my child ever felt like one of those kids, she’d have the information she needed. An open donor is a sperm donor who is open to meeting the children whom his sperm produced, and when my daughter, Jayda, turns 18, she can contact the bank I used, and they will release contact information about her donor to her.

After I gave birth to Jayda, there was an onslaught of media attention directed towards the Donor Sibling Registry (DSR). As the DSR website states, “the focus of the Donor Sibling Registry (DSR) is to assist individuals conceived as a result of sperm, egg, or embryo donation who are seeking to make mutually desired contact with others with whom they share genetic ties.” For most of the members, this means connecting half-siblings (children of the same donor), and some SMCs swear by this site. As a result of this website, Yahoo groups have been created for parents of half-siblings, people travel cross-country for yearly reunions, intense relationships are fostered between half-sibs, and some say their half-siblings share a strong bond and interact with each other much like cousins do. I, for one, have never had any interest in joining the DSR. While my family is quite small, I believe it’s enough for me and Jayda, and our lives are so rich with wonderful friendships that I don’t think Jayda will ever feel like she’s lacking love or companionship. Why would she ever need to know her half-siblings? Of course, if at some point when Jayda is older, she disagrees with me, and wants to find her biological half-sisters and brothers, I’ll be happy to share the DSR’s URL with her; but for now, I see no point in becoming a member and posting on this site.

Last weekend, I was at the home of a SMC friend who is a member of the DSR, and she told me she’d be happy to share her password with me if I ever wanted to peruse the site; I took it. And the other day, I hesitantly logged on and searched for the bank I used, as well as my donor’s number. I then discovered postings from parents of seventeen kids whom Jayda’s donor had sired…most of who were within a year of Jayda’s age! I later found out that my donor is retired (his sperm is no longer available because he’s reached his maximum number of allowed births), but that didn’t make me feel much better. I’m overwhelmed; the postings I found mean that Jayda has more than 17 half-siblings, since not everyone (me for example!) joins the DSR.

But what disturbs me is not the fact that all of these children exist…but that all of these children will have the option of contacting the donor when they turn 18. And what if they do? What if dozens of these kids get to the guy before Jayda makes her potential call? Will he still have time for her? Or any interest in meeting her? Will he be able to give her what she needs (assuming she even needs his attention)? I know I did the best I could do, and if I could do things differently, I wouldn’t; I selected what seemed like an amazing donor (and Jayda is, indeed, an amazing kid)—and I made sure that Jayda would be able to meet him if she ever desired—but clearly, sometimes the best-laid plans go awry. And while I know I can’t worry about things that may or may not happen 14 years from now…I do still lament this news. How could I not?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Surprisingly Thinking my Family is Complete

While I've talked about having three children for as long as I can remember, and taken action to prepare for my 3rd attempt at trying to conceive, I've surprisingly found myself thinking that maybe I'm really done. That thinking doesn't actually sit well with me because it's such a radical shift, and that makes me question it, but I keep coming back to the same place.

Maybe it would be nice to stick with two, two who are close
enough in age that they will be able to go to the same school until my daughter starts middle school, allowing me, when she starts K and he starts pre-K, to live the life I've always dreamed of; working part-time, being the one that gets to pick my children up and take them to their activities, having their friends over after school and really getting to know them, being the primary one to help with their homework, etc. But the cut in work hours needed to do those things wouldn't be possible if I needed to pay for child care for 3, at least not until the littlest one could go to pre-K, when my oldest, best case scenario, would be in 3rd grade.

It just doesn't feel right,
knowing that I have a choice to be more available to my children sooner. That, and the fact that I really want to make a change professionally, and that the direction I'm leaning is one that will require a couple of years of schooling. I will be meeting with a career counselor to make sure that it's really likely to be the best path for me, but I simply can't make the changes I think I need to be happy in my career if I am still paying for full-time care for one kid, in addition to the summer camps, after-school care, and the like, which I will need for my older two.

I'm not closing the door to another, but right now I'm thinking that my family works the way it is (ironically, at a time when my daughter is telling me nightly that we need another baby) but I wonder, for those who also found themselves
surprisingly thinking their family was complete, who had previously thought they would like to expand it, what was it that brought about that shift and did you stay

Karen, 39y5m, Annie, 4y2m, and Mitchell, 2y4m