When I Pictured my child’s birth, I saw my husband holding my hand as I labored through a natural delivery. My baby would never know a pacifier or a bottle. Cloth diapers all the way for this mama.
Here’s the birthing experience I actually got: unplanned pregnancy, no partner in sight. Tears as I begged for an epidural. Two days of grueling labor, my mom holding my legs and my dad supporting my back. The nurses feeding my son formula from a bottle while I was in recovery. On Day 1, I learned parenting’s most valuable lesson: Expectation doesn’t equal reality. And I don’t care that our life looks nothing like what I’d planned, because I love our life.
The parent I thought I’d be had it all—the spouse, the house, enough money to afford organic baby food. I did not see myself as a single mother, ever. And single motherhood is the hardest thing I have ever done. Being a single parent means you have to do it all or it doesn’t get done. Going to swimming lessons and doctor’s appointments, kissing skinned knees, training the puppy, buying the groceries, cutting down the Christmas tree.
You have to do it all, but you also get to do it all. There are moments every day that overwhelm me with love. My Ethan, now 4, hates bedtime. He comes up with a million reasons to get out of bed each evening. One night, he wandered out to the living room. I sighed.
“Ethan, what else could you possibly need?”
“I just miss you so much, Mommy.”
A kiss, a hug, and back to bed. The parent I thought I’d be had a perfect life. What I got is even better.