Just as pop stars take their own unique paths to stardom, moms-to-be often travel varied roads on their journey toward solo parenthood. For some, loudly ticking biological clocks lead to sperm donor catalogs and fertility clinics. For others, spur-of-the-moment one-night stands end up in a nine-month hangover. But regardless of whether on-your-own parenting was a planned destination or happenstance condition, your choice—your pledge—to go it alone is one of strength and selflessness that conveys your already immeasurable love for your baby. You’re determined to kick it by yourself. Here’s how to do it successfully.
Signing a label
Raising a baby alone takes courage and perseverance, but it can also be one of the most exciting, exhilarating opportunities of your life. Don’t forget to celebrate your big news! A bottle of sparkling grape juice and a toast to you and yours is certainly in order.
Of course, a one-mommy show is a major undertaking, so make sure you know just what you’re getting into (as much as any parent ever does, anyway) and that you’ve got your proverbial ducks in a row. Keep in mind the fine print that you’ll need to carefully consider, including finances, child care and any other logistical needs a baby may create. You’ll need a plan of action, advises life coach Kathleen Leonard, EdD, CPCC. “It’s fine to think about what you’ll need to do, but writing it down makes it much more real.” Put pen to paper and hash out the details. Taking care of the nitty-gritty up front will be enormously beneficial in preparing for the next steps.
Take note too that your contract is solely for the role of mommy—not mommy and daddy. Performing both roles is impossible, warns Carole Brody Fleet, author of Widows Wear Stilettos: A Practical and Emotional Guide for the Young Widow. A single mom “is capable only of being the very best mother she can be—and that’s enough.”
Auditioning backup dancers
Every soloist could use a couple backup dancers behind her for moral support—and to help pull off the whole show. Likewise, a lone mama needs some backing behind her, cheering her on and enhancing her performance. Whether it’s your own parents or siblings, a group of girlfriends, or members of a single mothers group, it is imperative to have a support system in place so you can band together in a time of need. There’s going to come a point when you’re beyond exhausted: It’s OK to let your posse take over baby duty while you lay low backstage or do your hair and makeup in peace. Fleet reminds single mothers, “It’s not a sign of weakness to accept help, nor is it a sign of strength to get through challenges alone.” It’s OK to share the spotlight—in fact, you’ll be a bigger hit as a mom when you’re rested and refreshed.
Handling the critics
Although your every move won’t likely be captured by paparazzi and streamed through a vast number of media outlets, you’ll surely encounter a few critics along the way who offer slightly less than rave reviews about your lifestyle choices. Be true to yourself and don’t let others get to you. If a particular remark continues to consume you despite your finest efforts to discount it, talk it out with one of your peers. Verbalizing how you feel and soaking up some reassurance and encouragement from a friend can help melt away any ill-rooted insecurities that may have been conjured up.
Nominating the Mommy of the Year
Need more negativity-busting ammunition? Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, MS, PT, author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness, recommends developing a mommy mantra that you can call to mind when something’s got you down. Don’t be afraid of sounding like a broken record: Feel free to repeat phrases like “I am proud of myself” or “My love for my baby will get us through anything” just as often as you need. By refocusing your attention on what’s most important, a solid singles slogan will help push unsolicited critiques out of sight and out of mind.
The road to the red carpet isn’t an easy one, but one that requires hard work and dedication. There will be plenty of I’m not sure I can do this moments and even a few Is this the right career for me? doubts. But by believing in yourself, giving it your all, and persevering even when it would be easier to give up, you’ll find you’re definitely Mommy of the Year material. There may not be a fancy awards show or million-dollar paycheck, but the richness of the rest of your life will be more rewarding than you could ever have imagined.