Last updated on Feb 11th, 2021 at 08:40 am
Bianca van Wyngaard was 24 when she met her soulmate – a man 18 years older. Having children back then wasn’t an issue – she wasn’t ready and he was the father of three pre-teens and had come through a difficult divorce.
11 years later she became increasingly broody. At the time he was approaching 60 and not interested in starting all over again. Desperately wanting a child, she ended the relationship and carefully researched her parenting options.
“Initially I thought about going the sperm bank route, but the thought of actually ticking boxes of my preferences seemed too much like playing God,” she says.
“I gave myself two years to find the fairy tale – the loving relationship that would get me married to become a mother. I tried Internet dating and met my daughter’s father. I was completely upfront, explaining that I wasn’t interested in getting involved unless having a baby was an option. He told me he loved being a father and wouldn’t mind doing it again.
“But when I fell pregnant, he did an about-turn and suggested an abortion. So I decided to go ahead with the pregnancy and never heard from him again. It’s not how I’d hoped to become a mother, but I’d wanted Mia for so long that I choose not to dwell on the how and why but prefer to embrace this awesome gift from the universe.”
“Motherhood is tough enough when there are two of you, so doing it on your own comes with a lot of extra challenges,” says Jodi Hepker, a clinical psychologist in private practice in Johannesburg who has seen a steady rise in the number of women choosing to become single moms.
“We’ve come a long way since the traditional nuclear family of the 60s. Today there are increasing numbers of well educated, financially successful, independent women in their thirties who have decided not to gamble on the possibility of finding their soul mates and who embark on the journey alone.
- “It’s important to carefully think things through when it comes to single parenting. You can’t simply wake up one day, hear your biological clock loudly ticking, bemoan the fact that you’ve still not met Mr Right and decide on the spot to have a child on your own,” says Hepker.
- “Making a choice about the direction you want your life to follow is vitally important. You’ve got to do this for all the right reasons too, primarily because, like Bianca, you’ve always yearned for motherhood and you’ll never feel fulfilled without a child. But don’t have a child to alleviate loneliness, because motherhood is so all-encompassing that it may have the opposite effect and leave you feeling lonelier.”
Dr Kelly Owen, a clinical psychologist and director of Stress Free Kids, offers the following tips to prospective single moms:
- Consider your motivations, expectations and your need to be a single mom very carefully. Consult a professional to identify and acknowledge your issues, particularly your attitude towards relationships, commitment, and men, as this will influence your decision and your parenting style later on.
- Think about your child. Children growing up without fathers may have disadvantages in relationships later in life. How you explain to your child why he hasn’t a father will be critically important to his emotional development, self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Consider the cost. Having no emotional and financial support from another adult can weigh heavily on the single mom. Financial stress is one of the major problems that dual-income families face today and this can be significantly worse if you’re parenting alone.
- Evaluate how a baby will impact on your work or career and how work will impact on your child. Do you earn enough to give your baby the best childcare? Does your job allow your baby to have the best of yourself? Remember that bonding is vital and must not be sacrificed – quality time and quantity time are important.”
Expert tips for single moms starting out
- So that your child can benefit from it later, keep an open, honest journal of why you took the decision to have a child and become a single mom.
- Prepare your story in a way that your child can appreciate and immediately understand.d
- Understand that parenting is an emotional journey and you should seek professional help any time you feel overwhelmed.
Single mom Bianca advises:
- Make sure you’re financially OK and plan for contingencies. I naively thought I’d be back up and running my normal work hours within two weeks of giving birth, but even with the best laid plans (nanny included) I really couldn’t do much work for the first three months.
- Put together a good support system. I’ve always had a full-time nanny and my mom and sister have been amazingly supportive. Having someone around during ‘suicide hour’ is essential, especially as your hormones are all over the place and newborns are much more hands-on than you can ever imagine!
- Learn to ask for help. I fell into the trap of telling myself that having chosen to do this alone, I had to cope alone. Although I find it hard to admit that I’m not managing or just need a break, when I call for help I’m always amazed by the positive response and willingness of others.
By Lynne Gidish