A reader, let’s call her “Karen,” contacted me recently for advice. She’s a single mom with a five-year-old and she’s pregnant again. She’s feeling very scared and lonely, trying to figure out how she’ll negotiate life with a new baby and a full-time job.
I’m so grateful for the advice of readers on this blog so I asked Karen if I could post her dilemma here.
Here’s Karen’s story:
I am a 30-year-old single Mom with a five year old daughter. Being a Mom is the greatest joy in my life. I am also 16 weeks pregnant. I was dating someone who was told he was sterile. After many months of dating, I broke it off with him—because of many reasons, one of which was that I didn’t like how he spoke to me and my son and another was he is not family-oriented and he said he didn’t want kids. Right as our relationship was ending I was increasingly ill and found out I was pregnant. It is his child. I am keeping it happily.
His parents, who live in the same city as me, while great in some ways, are very very controlling and all they can talk about is “their bonding time with the baby” at least nine times his Mom has brought up the idea of me going back to work after one month (might I add that I have to have a C-section due to some physical issues) and that they would watch the baby and help pay for daycare. They also are pressuring me to go take time off to meet their family, who the father of this child is estranged from and never speaks to.
It is so much stress and pressure on me.
What puzzles me is that I am a great Mom, my daughter is awesome, and she and I are really close. She is happy, well adjusted, and healthy, and they are aware of this. With my first baby I worked from home, at night, doing virtual administration and clerical work and editing, so I could stay home. When she was three I got a job outside the home and she went to daycare for the first time. I am a breastfeeding, babywearing, love-being-a-Mom parent, and they think this is strange and over the top.
I want to share this baby with the family, but I’m having panic attacks that they are trying to separate me from the baby. I called a meeting with his parents to tell them that I appreciate their support and involvement, but that I need them to stop talking about these things that stress me out. My ex-boyfriend’s Mom even told me last night that she didn’t think that my Mother should come right after the birth because there would be too many people at my house, and that she and her husband would take care of my needs and care for the baby. My own Mother she is trying to push away.
Readers, what advice do you have for Karen? How can she keep a relationship with her ex-boyfriend’s family—and accept help from them—but also set clear boundaries and have the time and space she needs to bond with her baby? Strong advice and opinions are fine but please be kind and compassionate in your responses.