Dear Dr. Norquist:
I’m 39 years old and in a panic. From the time I was a child, I have always wanted kids. My whole life, I’ve longed to be a mother – from deep inside me. Unfortunately, I’ve never met the right man and now I have my biological clock staring me in the face. Lately I’m considering getting pregnant and mothering a child without the benefit of a husband/father. I work at a 9 to 5 state job and have good medical insurance and sick leave benefits. I have a two-bedroom condo. I even have family nearby who would probably be supportive (after the initial shock, anyway). Do you think I should go ahead and get pregnant?
Dr. Norquist responds:
It’s not for anyone else to say what another’s path should be. This may or may not be an essential part of your soul’s journey. I know this is something that is being seriously considered more often in recent years by women who share your dilemma.
I’d suggest that you do your research well before you go ahead, so that you are as clear as possible regarding the consequences. Talk with other single moms (perhaps through the internet) and look for books or articles on this topic. Most of all, try to spend lots of time around moms with their young children. If possible, volunteer to watch a young niece or nephew or friend’s child for the weekend (for example, if the parents want a mini-vacation). It’s essential to get a taste of what it would be like to be ‘on’ as a mommy 24/7.
Certainly being a single mom is not ideal for either you or your child. Child rearing is meant to be done as a parental team. Raising a child is extremely demanding of your time and energy when your child is young and of your mental, emotional and financial resources as your child continues to mature. As a mom, you will always need to be either “on duty” or ready to be on duty at a moment’s notice, 24/7. It’s definitely a plus that you have family nearby who are likely to be able to provide support for you.
There is no end to the job of mothering. You can’t decide to no longer be a mother. Once you experience it, it will change you forever. Your child will always occupy the core of your heart, so you will be vulnerable to pain and loss as well as great joy. In addition your child and your role as a mother will always have to be a central factor to consider in any future relationship or potential marital commitment.
Having said all this, I must add that I do believe that being a mother is potentially the most fulfilling experience that life has to offer. But this is only the case if it is right for you –and that is for you, and you alone to determine.
(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed psychologist (NJ #2371) in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling Services, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.) Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling Services, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanya.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax at (201) 656-4700. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding health-related concerns. 2016 Chaitanya Counseling Services