S2E15 - Your Frequently Asked Questions

Episode 15 January 10, 2024 00:43:49
S2E15 - Your Frequently Asked Questions
Start to Finish Motherhood with Aisha
S2E15 - Your Frequently Asked Questions

Jan 10 2024 | 00:43:49

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Hosted By

Aisha Jenkins

Show Notes

Welcome to another exciting episode of Start to Finish Motherhood Season Two! Today, we've got something special in store for you, as promised – it's the Frequently Asked Questions episode. But before we dive into these fantastic questions that you, wonderful listeners, sent in through email, the Facebook group, and our Start to Finish Motherhood Instagram page, I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of you. Your engagement and support mean the world to me.
 
Now, let's set the stage before we get into these thought-provoking questions. I want to share where my mind is at – not too long ago, I was right where many of you are now, just beginning this incredible journey of single motherhood by choice. So, some of these questions take me back to those early days, while others reflect where I am now with my kids aged nine and four, soon to be five. I'm deep in the parenting trenches, and I want you to know that I'm not here to downplay your experiences. We've all been there, caught up in worries about what others might say or think. But there comes a point where you gain some perspective and realize that everything's going to be okay. That's the lens I'm using to offer my advice.  Here is a peek at some of the questions addressed in this episode:
 
1. How did you prepare your supervisors and direct reports at work for your pregnancy?
2. How do you politely tell male friends you do not want them to be your donor?
3. How do you deal with the long wait time between thinking of becoming an SMC and trying?
 
4. How do you find the time to fit in workouts as a single mom?
5. How do you explain your child's conception story to others, and do people typically believe you?
6. Were you financially prepared when you decided to become an SMC?
7. Is there a distinction between being a solo mom, a choice mom, and an SMC?
8. Do SMCs ever get married, and if so, how does it impact their single motherhood journey?
9. Have you thought about the long-term consequences of being an SMC, and if so, what are they?
10. How do you approach your dating profile if you're an SMC?
 
And many more...
 
Get ready for some insightful answers to these burning questions in this episode!
View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:04] Welcome to start to finish motherhood, a podcast for those thinking or already single mothers by choice. Just looking for practical advice for navigating life's relationships. When you decide to have children on your own, it doesn't mean that you're completely alone. I'm Aisha Jenkins, and I'm partnering with you every step of your journey. [00:00:26] Hi, everybody. As promised, this is the frequently asked questions episode for season two, and I want to take this moment to thank everyone who sent in their questions through email, through the Facebook group, and through the start to finish motherhood Instagram page. [00:00:46] And also before I jump into these questions, these are really good. I wanted to remind you that over the course of the season, I have been also posting videos of some of the episodes to the YouTube channel. I would also really appreciate it if you could subscribe, turn on notifications, and share out any videos or any shorts that you find relevant and relatable, especially as it pertains to being able to answer some of the questions that you might get from well meaning family members and friends. Okay, so let's jump right into these questions. And these are not in any particular order. [00:01:29] Oh, last thing before I jump into the questions, I just want to frame my responses to the questions so that you understand the mindset that I'm coming from. And so it's not too long ago that I remember where I was as I was starting the journey. [00:01:46] And so some of the questions will be thinking back to that time and then also where I am in my headspace at this current place in my life. [00:01:56] I have a bit of confidence in knowing that my kids are nine and four, soon to be five, and that I am in the midst of my parenting journey. And I do not want to minimize where you are. If you are just getting started in your parenting journey, or if you are just getting started with the thinking process, I want you to know that I'm not trying to minimize. I think that when you get to a certain point, you can look back and you have some perspective that Everything is going to be okay. And so that's going to inform the lens that I use to offer my advice. Because sometimes we get so caught up in what are people going to say? What are people going to think? And beyond a certain stage, you are just in the depths of parenting your own kid. Okay? And so that's the framing for my answers to these questions. So, question one, how did you prepare your supervisors and direct reports at work for your pregnancy? So how did you prepare to answer those questions? This is a really good question. And so I work in a pretty progressive work environment, and I was in the same environment when I was trying to conceive. It's a family friendly environment, so there's some fairly decent work life balance with my job. So I knew going in what culture it was that I would be introducing my pregnancy, my maternity leave, and my work life balance needs moving forward. Many of my colleagues were married. Either they were married with grown children or they were in the midst of family building stages, too. I kept in mind that for most people, the baby bump doesn't show until the second trimester. So there was really nothing that I did any differently than what I had seen other people in the organization do when it came to announcing their pregnancy and sharing what their needs were. That was pretty much how I took my cues. I didn't announce my pregnancy to my team until I was comfortable. And for me, comfortable meant being in the second trimester. Prior to that, because I was going to be having prenatal appointments. I did let my HR team know that I was pregnant because I would be requiring time off. But also I needed time to really find out what resources were available at my job and to plan out financially what maternity leave meant to me for my unique circumstances. I needed to do that outside of other people looking and wondering what my maternity leave plan and my return to work plan was going to be, I took that time that I needed. I also pretty much did not do too much different from what any married or couple people would do at my company. I wasn't shy about saying, yes, I'm pregnant. Yes, this is when I'm going to be starting maternity leave. So none of that really changed. But I really took my cues from my work culture, and I would recommend you do the same. I would set up boundaries. If you work in a more conservative area or if you know that your culture is not necessarily conducive to single parenting or not really female friendly or kid or family friendly. So I would say, take your cues from there. I did leverage HR because I knew that was the culture of my company. I like to think about what the plan was going to be in terms of just preparing my documentation and my different projects for me going out on leave, but doing anything above and beyond. I didn't get any real uncomfortable or inappropriate questions about my marital status, and so I was grateful for that. So what I did not want to do was I did not want to hide my pregnancy. I did not want to hide my family situation, because when it came to having accommodations for things like business travel and certain delays that happen when I have to arrange for childcare. I wanted to make sure that I had the flexibility. I had the understanding of my supervisors and my management team that it might take me a couple of days to get back because I need to make certain arrangements. One of the pros that I found of being a single mother by choice is that by the time that we get to the point where we are pregnant and we are announcing to the world that we are pregnant and the world includes our jobs, that we've had a lot of time to plan ahead, that's what I would say if there was anything that I would do, is I would take that time and I would prepare myself, and I would ask my HR what resources are available or if I'm self employed, I would find out how do I need to prepare myself by perhaps talking to a financial planner or a tax consultant to see the things that I need to do to maximize and be able to take advantage of my unique circumstances. Question two. [00:07:32] How do you politely tell male friends that you do not want them to be your donor? This question comes up quite a bit, and these situations come up quite a bit, and it is super uncomfortable when you tell somebody, I have made this decision to have a child on my own. And then you go into details and you are blindsided by people offering you up their appendages and their bodily fluids to make this dream happen. And along with that comes whatever other conversations or baggage. So it's just super uncomfortable. Again, that's one of those opportunities where you don't offer up help unless someone asks for it. I would assume goodwill and I would kindly decline in a way that is firm and definitive. Your response should be as bold as the offer. For example, I'd say something along the lines like, I appreciate your offer, but no, I'm doing this on my own. Right, be firm with the no, and then leave the room or hang up the phone. Now, being a single mother by choice means that you're going to encounter all sorts of unsolicited advice, all sorts of unsolicited offers, unsolicited stuff and baby items, you name it. Unsolicited things will just come out. The woodworks. I learned early on whose opinions I valued in my journey, and for those whose input doesn't really matter to me, I would just respond to something like, that's great. I love that for you. If you like it, I love it is my favorite saying. This response pretty much shuts down the conversation, and for me, it helps me to stay focused on my own path, because my path is my path. By the time we arrive at this position where we're thinking about becoming single mothers by choice, we have reached some point of self determination or autonomy in our lives where we know what we are taking on from a global perspective. Kids are an x factor, but okay, next question. How do you prepare for unexpected challenges at work after becoming a single mother by choice? I say that I identified early on who were the people I needed to keep informed about the changes in my home life and my various situations. In particular. Childcare is always a big issue for me. I can weather most anything with stable, reliable, safe childcare. I knew who I needed to keep informed, what projects I were working on, that I needed to make sure that they kept running, even if I had to take time off because I had a sick kid or something like that. I learned what resources were available to me, and then I used those resources. So I used my company's eap quite a bit. I used whatever health insurance plans, whatever backup childcare options were available to me. I needed to know what my options were so that I can make informed decisions in the moment. And so I did this homework and this legwork ahead of time. I keep in mind my priorities, and so when my resources become limited in terms of what I am able to do based on changes that happen due to my single parent by choice status, then I had to then fall back on my priorities. What things can wait? What things needed to be taken care of immediately. And that's still something that I do, even with regards to finances, because when you have children, unexpected things come up. And they're not small like $10 things, they're like hundreds of dollars. I needed to remain flexible, and being flexible meant that I needed to know what my priorities were going into almost every situation. And then I had an episode on creating margin. This means that there are things that you can expect to happen at unexpected times. You can expect that in a 365 day period, somebody's going to get sick, somebody's going to throw up on you, somebody's going to need a change of clothes out in public, and if you can anticipate it, then you can prepare for it. And that allows you just a little bit of breathing room and grace. When those things that are expected at unexpected times, when those things occur, you can kind of move through them with a little bit more grace. How do you deal with the long wait times between thinking of becoming a single mother by choice and trying? Okay, so this question relates to the single mother by choice journey. Which I broke up into five parts where you're thinking and then you're trying, and then you are welcoming a child and then you're parenting and then you're adulting. So this deals with the first two stages, which could be really long. Some people have spent weeks to months in the thinking phase, and some people will spend months to years in the thinking phase, waiting for the timing to be right, waiting to be a certain point in their life. And so what do you do in the in between time? For me, I was a planner and I also ascribe to living life in the moment. So seizing the day. If I know that I'm living life from one menstrual cycle to the next. In between, I am going to have fun and I'm going to live my life when I have those real pensive moments where I'm in my head because I just need to focus on the process ahead of me. Then I'm taking that time to plan out what do I want for my children? What do I want my life as a parent to be like? What are my priorities? What do I need in a village? Where do I want to live? What do I need in a school district? So I'm thinking and I'm planning, what do I want my parenting philosophy to be? I'm envisioning and almost speaking hopefully into existence the type of life and the family that I would like to create and lead. And so that's pretty much how I spent that time. If you're a religious person, go to church. If you're a person who likes to travel, go spend the time traveling. The future will take care of itself. But you do want to make sure that you are living life in the meantime. Because while we all do hope for the best outcomes in this single parent, single mother by choice journey, there's no guarantees here. So you don't want to spend a huge chunk of your hot person summer life just waiting and pining and hoping, I'll do this when the baby's here. I'll do this when I welcome a child. I'll do this when live life in the moment because tomorrow is not promised. That's just my bit of advice. This question is one that I got specifically for me. You don't have family around you. How do you do it? I think that not having immediate family around you has pros and cons. One of the pros is that I have more control over the environment that I can set for my kids at these foundational stages. I don't have to compromise with people. I don't have to rely on people to babysit. And if they're babysitting, then I just have to kind of go with the flow of what they are saying around my children, bringing around my children, what baggage they bring into the situation, good or bad. I don't have to worry about swatting down and navigating all of those social politics. One of the cons is that a lot of the work and the day to day things fall on me, and it can sometimes be a lot of pressure to stay healthy, to stay in the moment, to be able to have really strong and firm boundaries in place. When you go through things like the holiday season where you're juggling different social calendars and different obligations, that's where it becomes challenging. Like I've said earlier in the season, my family, they're older than me, they have kids. They're currently grandparents. I fortunately, have been given a graceful out of what expectations for me on a day to day look like, what expectations for me on the holidays look like. Now I will say that I'm starting to get a little bit of pressure from my nine year old to want those traditions, to want her family members around her. She's now asking, and they want to have more conversations with the aunties and the cousins, and so it makes sense for where she is developmentally. So now I'm going to have to go into the lion's den and begin to resurface myself in family dynamics and start to really think about what that could look like for me. But pretty much when I don't have family around me and I still have all of these obligations, I have five priorities and things that don't fall within those five priorities. I consider them optional. [00:17:01] I'm not a jerk about my no's, but I do know that a no is coming. I want to make sure that I prepare people for the no, but they're easy no's for me. And so if it doesn't involve my health, if it doesn't involve my kids, my time, my estate and my chosen family, then if I don't have the time for it, I'm not going to stretch myself to make the time for it, especially not on a regular basis. So those are easy no's for me. In essence, I have really tried to simplify my life, my wants, my needs, my desires, my finances, and the people that I need to roll with in my circle. I've really simplified that to make all of this manageable because I know it is just me that's in this geographic region for the day to day. [00:17:49] Okay. [00:17:51] I hope you're finding this useful. If there are questions that you want me to go into more detail about, or if there are questions that you can really relate to, please just let me know. [00:18:04] Okay. Most useful baby shower gifts. For me in particular, I got really useful gifts in my second pregnancy. I say that because with the first pregnancy, you don't really know what you need. You don't really know what's going to be useful. You're kind of flying by the seat of your pants. But by the second time, I knew what I wanted to be like in terms of parenting. I knew what was important. And then I had a bunch of handmedown stuff. So when I think about the things that were really useful to me, they were things that fit into my individual needs and desires that I had for my family and the legacy that I wanted to leave, there were two things that I got that were really useful. I got vouchers for a photo shoot, and so it wasn't like anything super expensive. I think it was like at one of the local malls, somebody got me a package for a month by month photos and then a couple of sessions. And so that meant that at the end of my three year journey to get my second child, I was able to have a family portrait session, which was really deeply meaningful to me. To finally say that I've arrived at the end of my journey, and here is the family that I always envisioned. But then I also got to take some photos during key holidays as well. And all of that was just free of charge. The only thing I paid for were some of the products outside of what was included in the package that was gifted to me. And then I got a daycare voucher. So I had a friend who owned a daycare. And when I had my second child, my second child was born at the beginning of summer. So I was going through maternity leave. And one of the conversations that happens in the single mother by choice community is, are you going to keep your older child home with you while you're on maternity leave so that you can save the money, or are you going to send them to care or to camp and just continue it, and it's just you and the baby at home? I didn't have to make that decision. A friend gifted me camp voucher and what that meant to her credit, I loved her dearly because she picked my kid up and she took my kid in with her and she dropped my kid off. And that was super helpful because I had a challenging second child, and my maternity leave was just really hard. I was trying to exclusively breastfeed. But then I also had a child that did not like the car seat. That meant that even if I had gotten a free voucher for day camp, I would have had to get in the car with a screaming baby and twice a day to do pickup and drop off. And that would have been really stressful for me. And so, hindsight being in 2020, those were the two things that were gifted to me that were really useful and made my life as a single mother by choice easier because it spoke to how I wanted to parent. [00:21:20] Okay, this one's funny. How do you go about brushing your child's teeth? [00:21:26] Okay, so by the time your child starts to get teeth, you're going to need to start brushing those teeth. For me, I had a small baby. I'd hold the baby in the cruck of my arm and I would just go ahead and brush those little teeth. So I quickly brushed the teeth using a circular motion and whatever fat baby toothbrush I got. And then as the child gets bigger, I let them watch me brushing my teeth and they get to mirror me brushing my teeth, but still kind of like at the two to three year age stage, I let them do their thing and then I take the brush and I do a mommy brush. And now that I have a four year old going on five, that is still pretty much the same. But on the weekends, I just let her go and brush her teeth. But for the most part, once a day I will try to do the mommy brush, and then Monday through Friday, I just consistently do the mommy brush. And my child has tight contacts on her teeth. And so the dentist said, put a little bit of toothpaste on the flosser, and then at night, after they brush their teeth, also floss in between their teeth. So a little bit of the good stuff from the toothpaste kind of stays in between the teeth and to help to fight those cavities. And so that's pretty much my approach. Even with the nine year old. I'm like, every now and then I'll just go through and do a mommy brush. And whenever we go to our dentist, they give us dental floss. I purchase the flossers that we like, and so then we just go from there. So we just make it a thing. [00:23:02] Next question. How do you fit in workouts? Well, for me, I'm a structure person, so I need structure in my day in order to consistently fit in workouts. So that's one thing I need to know. What my work structure is going to be and my life structure so that I can fit in workouts. I'm not even going to try to work out on the weekends because that's family time. We do activities, but during the week I have more structure. Monday through Friday, I pick days that I can consistently work out. So Monday, Wednesdays, Fridays, I go to the gym. And my gym is also at a location that has childcare. I make sure I put the kids in childcare. I go to the gym. Right now I'm doing 35 to 40 minutes workouts. That works for me just to kind of keep everything flowing and moving. As the kids get more older, I would just expand out that schedule. I like to buy gear and I like to look fit and sleek when I go to the gym. And so for me, that's a big part of the excitement leading up to it. So I will catch whatever sales there are and I will buy myself two or three workout outfits so that I am comfortable. I like to create a routine. I am a structure person. So it takes about four weeks, four to five weeks to settle into the routine. And then life happens and it changes things up. Then I have to reengage and restart the process again. So I went from two days in the office to now three days in the office, starting in the new year. And so now I'm in the process of trying to adjust my workout schedule to fit that schedule. And I will say this, fitness was a part of my identity before I became a parent. So it was something that was always at the top of mind for me. Even as I spent two or three years not consistently going to the gym, I still stayed active. So that meant going for walks with the kids when they were small. That meant every now and then dropping them off at the gym, daycare and then going to get in a workout. It still wasn't consistent, but it was active, going on walks and hikes. And I recently gifted myself some roller skates because I don't ride a bike, but my kids ride bikes and ride scooters. I want to be mobile with them. So now this is an additional activity that I can fit into family time. So I look at the weekends as just that, optional free time to do whatever we want in terms of activities, whether it's a leisure walk or if I'm roller skating and we're doing things on wheels that weekend. So that's how I fit in fitness. But be gentle with yourself and don't rush it, as long as you stay active. Times. My kids were the only exercise that I got, and by that, I mean that children are physical. So I'm doing a lot of picking up whether I'm picking up the kids, picking up the kid with the car seat, picking up groceries so that I only make one trip. I was constantly trying to stay active. And so while I was staying active, I'm engaging my core and I'm engaging my quads. I'm stretching as I'm washing dishes, I'm doing yoga, I'm doing planks. So just different things to activate certain parts of my body. [00:26:19] How did you find your doctor? I'm big on recommendations, and once I get a recommendation, I work based off my gut. One of the things that I tried to really harness before I started really getting into parenting was trying to understand what a respectable dialogue between myself and my medical professionals looked like and how that made me feel. Whenever I go based off of someone's recommendation, I'm using my gut to say, do I feel heard? Do I feel that my needs are being met with this medical provider? And I have, on occasion, had to fire a medical professional for not providing me an adequate level of care. Based on what I expect, I have the authority to do that, and I will find another physician within my network that works for either myself or my children. [00:27:11] While I do prefer doctors who look like me, my vetting process does not change. You could look like me and still not be for me. [00:27:20] How do you tell your child their conception story? Well, in the single mother by choice, we have the mantra, tell them early and tell them often. That being the case, I started when my kids were really young, knowing that their donor conceived is just a part of their lives. It's nothing that's out of the ordinary. I don't shy away from conversations about people with dads or people with granddads and grandparents or aunts and uncles and pets. I lean into all of those because all of those are valid family structures that I want my kids to recognize because they might choose any one of those family structures. They might also choose the single mother by choice family structure. And I want them to know that all of those family structures are validated and that they're AOK. With me, it's just been a part of who we are as a family. And since I have a four year old and a nine year old, I'm having a second chance at telling that conception story. And I also have an older kid to help validate that conception story. We're just constantly asking questions, and it's just a part of our normal dialogue. And the questions become more mature and more perceptive as my children become older. And so I'm here for it as long as I'm able to talk to them. My approach is a recipe approach, so I use a recipe analogy, and I try to keep the recipe as inclusive as possible. So, basically, I've arrived at it takes four things to create a baby. It takes eggs, sperm, a uterus, and lots of love. And then I go into the specifics for each child's conception story. The level of detail will change over time. As the kids get older, their understanding becomes more sophisticated, so they ask different questions. [00:29:12] I find that it's not always a smooth or a fluid telling, and it's okay for them to watch me stumble and recover, for them to hear me rephrase things and ask them questions for clarification. But I get the story out because I know that it's an important thing that they know all that they can know. They know all that I know about their conception story and that they feel safe when they're asking me these questions and they're sharing their feelings about the information that I've shared with them. Those are just basics for me in terms of the family that I want and the relationship I want to have with my children. What's the most difficult part about being a single mom? [00:29:58] For me, I always feel as if the landscape is changing and shifting. So my choices have changed based on life circumstances. Did I become a parent while I was with a partner or as a single person? Circumstances changed, and I had to become a parent. As a single person, I changed physically, and I changed emotionally. With my first child, it was a happy, jubilant conception. With my second child, it was emotionally draining. Physically. [00:30:28] I now have stretch marks and I have a little bit of a pooch. And so I'm dealing with the jiggly wigglies. But my kids love the warm patches and the warm places where they lived. Your children arrive, and life changes, right? So I feel like you're in a constant state of adjusting. There's never enough time, there's never enough space. And so I feel like there are so many developmental stages for your children, but there are also development stages for you, too. As you progress on your parenting journey, right, your professional life changes, your finances changes for a time being. Your relationships, they're constantly evolving. Your friendship circles change. So becoming a single mother by choice, it just constantly feels like I'm adjusting to change. And I as an individual, I don't handle change well. So I need a long Runway to get prepared for the change. So my thinking phase. I appreciate it. Having the years to think about what being a single parent would look like and then the off ramp as well. So I slow down. I've simplified. I stay mindful. I adjust, and I breathe through and reflect on how my life has changed. And so I protect my time and my mental space as a finite resource. And so for me, the hardest part of being a single mother by choice was being on this journey of change and accepting the change and accepting myself. [00:32:10] Gosh, you guys have a lot of really good questions. And so let's see if I can go through some of these. I got a question. What are you currently reading? I will say this quickly. I used to be an avid reader of hard copy books before I became a mom. So one of the hardest things for me to adjust to was not being able to touch books and sit down and curl up with a book. And then I really leaned into audiobooks. And so I love audiobooks. The things that I'm currently reading, well, I just finished kindred by Octavia Butler. In a parallel life, I am working around things of Afrofuturism, and Octavia Butler's name comes up as well as Rashida Phillips. And so I've listened to podcasts that feature Rashida Phillips, and I'm now delving into Octavia Butler's books. I'm also reading finding me by Viola Davis. And it is cathartic, it is deep. And I have read the first few chapters, and I had to put it down and reflect on the parallels that it has with my own life. For the second time, I've listened to the smartest kids in the world. Because as I get ready to enter my child into kindergarten, my second child into kindergarten, I'm reflecting on this little person and what she might need in terms of becoming one of the smartest kids in the world. How do you explain your conception story to others, and do they believe you? So, me personally, I don't really like giving energy to explaining my life choices to other people because I don't really need that external validation. But I do have groups of people that I think is important for them to know. And for those people, I do share that information and I share facts. Those people are going to be medical professionals, school staff, childcare staff, someone that I'm considering dating seriously, my management team at work. In those cases, I keep it factual. I keep it straightforward. I'm a solo parent. I use a sperm or egg bank and a doctor to conceive my children. [00:34:23] Professional people will take it at face value, and they will ask any follow up relevant questions. For people that I'm dating, I have encountered weird responses from wow to wonder to disbelief. In some cases, someone will be like, did the father know that he's a sperm donor? And I'm like, well, to reiterate, I have used a sperm bank and a doctor to create my family. So moving forward after those first few instances, that is how I started describing my conception story. People believe what they want to believe, but I don't really like when people use a known father figure who is just not present in the child's life and call them a sperm donor, because then it makes it harder for those of us who actually use sperm bank donors, which are sperm donors, to create our families. But that's just something I'm okay living with. [00:35:21] Were you financially prepared to become a single mother by choice? I think I was, but also, this is relative. I had money in the bank. I had just purchased a home. I was done with school. I had a stable job. So I did feel that I was financially prepared. But there's a lot of variability in this journey and based on what path you choose to become a parent, whether you're debt adverse or whether your insurance will cover anything, your relationship to money and even your personal definition of preparedness can vary. I say, know who you are and your relationship with money and then determine if you're financially prepared. I felt financially prepared for my first child, but looking back, I was woefully unprepared for financing the journey to my second child. I did make some good corrective choices later on down the road, but it took me almost three years to conceive my second child, and it did put me into quite a bit of debt. I feel like I'm now at the point where I'm rebounding from that debt, but I am very aware of my finances, and I don't say that that was a terribly hard experience for me to have because I did learn the finer basics of budgeting, and it allowed me to kind of tweak the things that were materially important to myself and my family. Let's see. Solo mom, choice, mom, single mother by choice. Is there a difference? For me, I use the terms interchangeably, and that's a real, deeply personal choice. I work in diversity, equity, and inclusion, and I know that words have power and words can be used to either unify and make inclusive, or it can be used to divide. I choose to use language that is inclusive of all forms of single parents because when the world looks at you and they see you as a single parent, they're going to say they're the single parent. They're not going to say they're the solo mom, they're the choice parent. They're the single mother by choice. And oh, you went to a sperm bank to have your. They don't care about all of that in people within the community. They seem to care a lot about those distinctions. I have siblings who are single parents. I'm a single parent. [00:37:47] I accept them the same way I want them to accept me. And that's my say on that. So I use all of those terms interchangeably. [00:37:57] Do single mothers by choice ever get married? Yes, they do. I do know a few single mothers by choice who have gotten married. I do also know that some of those single mothers by choices who have gotten married have also gotten divorced. And so once you become a parent from that point forward, it doesn't really change in terms of how you might date or in terms of what the outcomes of those marriages and pairings are going to be. For me, what I've seen is it's similar to a divorced person dating. The biggest difference that I will say that I've seen is the conversations around what it means to be a solo parent and the sole provider of your kid and then what babysitting looks like if we're going to enter into a dating situation together, because babysitting is not cheap and it's not insignificant, and then boundaries around when and how you introduce children. But other than that, those are very similar conversations to what you would have with anybody who is in a single parenting situation. [00:39:03] Do you think about the long term consequences of being a single mother by choice? I will say single mothers by choice. We don't enter into this decision lightly. Many of us, we think about everything deeply for years and for months. And long term consequences of this choice is one of the things that we think about. And to be honest, I think that if people in all relationship statuses approach marriage and parenthood with the same level of care and consideration as those who are considering single parenthood, if they approached it in that same fashion, I think western society would be in a more positive place than it is now. And so if you are thinking that someone who's considering becoming a single parent by choice is doing so willy nilly and that they hate the other gender and things like that, it has nothing to do with that. And it's a really thoughtful and deeply personal decision that's being made. And we are considering the long term consequences for our children and ourselves. [00:40:08] What do you put on your dating profile if you're a single mother by choice? [00:40:13] I personally, I am not trying to be a standard bearer, anybody's beacon for being a single mother by choice. It's not something that I need to wear as a patch. It is not the main part of my identity. It's not the only hardship that I've endured. I have children and I don't want more is what I put on my dating profile. The rest of that information, I lead to conversations because you probably don't even need to have those conversations because some people won't even make the list, right? So I filter people that I come across on dating websites or I meet in person with who needs to know who's even going to get to that point in dating, to have to know my status with my child's donor. And so I share the most important parts of my life with the people who come through that filter. And this means that we could have months and months of superficial conversations until I decide that you're going to be sticking around long enough to even to meet my children or to have to know what my relationship status was or how I conceived my children. And so I don't put that on my dating profile that I'm a single mother by choice. I put that I have children and I don't want more because I am done baby making. How do you deal with the question about the dad? And this is my final question. I really keep it simple, I keep it straightforward and I keep it factual. And this is whether it's my child who's asking, school administrators who's asking. I think you become more comfortable with answering that question to those people who need to know, you become more comfortable over time. Remember that parenting is a journey. It is your journey. And for those who are just getting started, it's going to seem and sound much more scarier to you in the beginning than it is when you're nine or ten years into your parenting journey. So be kind with yourself. Understand that it's a developmental phase in an area for yourself. And don't feel bad that you feel nervous, that your palms are sweaty the first few times that you open your mouth and you say there's no dad, that we're a mom and kid family, it's perfectly natural. I would almost say almost every SMC has gone through having to say those words the first time to somebody who's part of the general public. And then also keep in mind, not everybody deserves to know your story and not everybody needs to know your story. So if there are people who are just nosy, feel like I have given you permission to walk away to shut down the conversation by any means necessary and got through it. There you have it. [00:42:59] This is season's two frequently asked questions episode. Thank you so much for sending in your questions. And send more. Send more. Don't forget to follow the YouTube channel and don't forget to subscribe, share, and turn on notifications. [00:43:19] Thanks for listening to start to finish motherhood with Aisha if you want to keep the conversation going, follow start to finish motherhood on Instagram or email me at [email protected] if you love this episode, please share it with anyone who's thinking of becoming a single mother by choice, anyone who's already parenting as a single mother by choice and just looking for advice on navigating it all, or a friend or family member who's looking to support someone else's single mother by choice. Journeys. Until next time. Bye now.

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