I’d like to share with other solo mothers two of the practices that I developed that served me and my child well. Being on my own while pregnant was a continual effort to combat shame and loneliness, imagining conversations like, “Oh, she’s pregnant, but I didn’t think she had a partner. . . ” “She did, but he left.” “I wonder why he left?” “Must be something wrong with her. . . ” I’ll never know if people said those things, but I believed they did. I girded myself.
I was also very proud and brimming with joy during my pregnancy, and loved my swelling belly. So I alternated between the two states of mind. What helped me through was forming a friendship with a tolerant, older woman, a surrogate mum, I guess. Find one of those if you’re solo and pregnant. Find one if you’re partnered and pregnant. Find one if you’re solo, not pregnant, partnered, whatever. Find a wise, compassionate, older woman. She’ll comfort you and make you laugh and hold you when you cry.
The second practice I developed once I had my child was related to physical attachment. I decided that when he came to me for comfort I would hold him until he decided to move away. I wouldn’t let go before he did. I practiced this from the time he could put his arms around me ’til this day (he’s 12). And he is one of the best huggers I know. He has the ability to sustain contact whether it’s pleasant or sad. He can stay with someone’s pain and with their joy. He holds me when I’m sad with confidence and ease. I think this practice might have contributed to his ability to sustain attention for specific exploration and play when an infant (that’s gone now, except for soccer!). He’ll make a sensitive rock for a lucky woman when he grows up.
The Families Commission has recently done research on the challenges and resiliency of step-families in NZ. Some readers might find it helpful to see their problems are not new. Unfortunately, the sample pool is not representative of our population and instead is biased towards university-educated, affluent families.
There are some good ideas about building resiliency.
So it all boils down to: find someone to love you and stick with love.
Enjoy the process, and contact me if you get stuck!