I believe I began the ‘soul searching’ that led to becoming a single mother by choice whilst I was going through the egg freezing process. As I mentioned, it was the first time I became truly aware of my potentially dwindling fertility. Despite this, I didn’t make my decision quickly. I would say the time frame from it being just an idea to making the decision and selecting the sperm took me about four years. So, it has been quite a long road I have travelled in the journey towards becoming a single mother.
Looking back, I realise I have been down a lot of paths and the experiences I’ve had have shaped my thinking on this journey. Whilst these experiences were varied, what I have come to realise and appreciate, however, is that the final destination I was working towards remained the same: ‘motherhood’.
Definition of motherhood: The state or experience of having or raising a child
These are the lessons and experiences I wanted to share with you, which I believe ultimately led me, personally, to the destination I wanted to get to…
Firstly, and probably most overwhelmingly, there are all the friends and family members I know who have had children. I always imagined that I too would follow the ‘norm’; meet a man, get married, have a family.
I am fortunate to have witnessed and been a part of two brilliant examples of ‘traditional’ happy family setups. Firstly, growing up in my own family with parents that have been together for 45 years, and then in my sister and brother-in-law who have been married for 10 years. They have made me a very lucky aunt with my amazing niece and nephew.
In comparison, I have also seen marriages break down and become very aware that sometimes these traditional happy families don’t last. It is through witnessing both the good, the bad and sometimes ugly that I have been able to make the decision that I would rather be a small happy family of two than build the foundations with the wrong man just to get to the destination of family.
Like so many, throughout my 20’s and 30’s I have enjoyed being a guest at friends weddings (including being a bridesmaid five times as well as a witness), in fact, I can’t think of a year in the last 15 years when I have not been to at least one wedding. These partnerships/couples/unions have gone on to grow into families and I am very fortunate that in many of these families I have been ‘adopted’ as ‘Auntie Em’, ‘cousin Em’ or just as Em. Revelling in the chance to be the fun adult, and big kid, who is willing to play games, bounce on a trampoline or stand on my head, many of my friends and family members have commented on how comfortable their children are with me and kindly told me what a wonderful mummy I would be. This positivity from those that know me best certainly encouraged me to follow my dreams and make motherhood a reality.
Another significant part of my life is my quest for adventure and the opportunities I have had to travel and observe other people. The experiences I have had mean I am very rarely lost for words. If all else fails I can easily pull out; ‘this one time on the Otavango Delta/up Kilimanjaro…’. So I think it is fair to say that I really do love to travel, something I hope to share and pass on to Mia. Throughout all of my adventures one of the things I always love to do is people watch. This is a pastime I learnt from my mother and to clarify we are inquisitive, not nosey!
The most fascinating thing about people watching is how much you can learn just by observing and listening, even if you don’t understand the language which is useful as I am shocking at speaking all foreign languages! What I have seen and learnt around the world is how just the presence of family, traditions and love speaks beyond words.
Through travelling, whether with family, friends or alone, I have developed a better understanding of myself and others. I believe that we should treat others how we would wish to be treated. It has also taught me that we all have the capability to change the direction our life is going in, although I understand it won’t always be easy, but I think it is possible. I therefore think that having seen so many cultures and seeing that love and friendship really can conquer a lot (maybe not all) I was driven to at least try to have a child with whom I can share the joy of people watching with.
The final part of my journey to motherhood is a relatively new one for me with my discovery of yoga and in particular the importance of breathing and being present. I first tried yoga in 2011 when I went on a Bikram yoga holiday in Turkey which was a rather extreme form of yoga to start with. However I was still keen to discover what yoga could add to my life, and the idea that breathing and movement could really ‘transform’ a person.
A couple of years later I decided to try yoga again. At this time I was not feeling good about by myself and, I recognise now, I was somewhat ‘lost’. I was not enjoying my job and as a result this was having a negative effect on both my health and life (more on this next post). I was lucky to have an amazing doctor who understood my perspective and whilst she offered me traditional options she also talked me through the virtues of trying alternative ways to rebalance.
I made a commitment to myself that things needed to change and that it was time to find new ways to ‘destress’ and clear my mind. Luckily, for me I found my perfect yoga teachers Soraya and Mike and, thanks to their teaching, at weekly classes and on retreats, yoga has not only stretched my body but also my mind. I have learnt flexibility, openness and most importantly, how to breathe correctly. I am by no means a model pupil, what I have gained through practicing yoga is a new understanding of how ‘to be’, which gave me the final push to follow my dreams and see what could happen…