Podcast: Becoming a single mom by choice

Families come in all forms! Sarah and I have received a number of requests to please feature podcast guests who can talk about solo parenting. So this week we welcomed Mel Johnson to Best of Both Worlds to talk about becoming a single mom (or “mum” — Johnson lives in the UK) by choice.

Johnson had reached her late 30s and realized that she definitely wanted to experience motherhood, even though she hadn’t found a life partner. So she embarked on the process of becoming a mother on her own. She is now the mother of a baby named Daisy. In addition to her day job, she also started a coaching company called The Stork and I to help other women considering the single-mom-by-choice option. In this episode she talks about the details and logistics. Some highlights:

A support network is key. Frankly, it is for people who have babies the “normal” way too! But if you don’t have a partner, you have to explicitly solve the problem of who can, say, watch your toddler while you get a haircut on the weekend. Johnson’s parents help out a lot; her mother stays over one night a week so she can go out to socialize, and also have a “lie in” (sleep in).

Dating is more relaxed post-parenthood. Johnson noted that before she had Daisy, dating was far more fraught: with a ticking biological clock, she was always wondering whether any given man would be Mr. Right, and whether she might find that out quickly. Now she can just enjoy dating, since the baby piece is in place.

Honesty is the best policy. As Johnson noted, new genetic testing companies are making it very difficult to keep your heritage a secret. In the UK, when children are 18, they can make contact with their sperm donor fathers if they’d like. Johnson plans to explain to her daughter, in age-appropriate language, why she decided to build her family this way.

Community helps. One reason Johnson started The Stork and I is that she felt incredibly alone while making the single-mom-by-choice decision. Even something like “which sperm donor should I choose?” can be a hard conversation to have with people who have not experienced something like this. She helps to build a community, and she also talked about apps for single parents to connect. She offers free webinars for anyone who’d like to explore options.

Today’s listener question may be relevant for people approaching extended family get-togethers. Our listener is an introvert who likes to plan ahead. Her extended family is more extroverted and spontaneous. She wants to know the plan, so she can manage her energy, but people often feel hurt by this. We discuss some ways that people can compromise but still stay sane.

Thanks for tuning in!

8 thoughts on “Podcast: Becoming a single mom by choice

    1. Another way is to format the column as type “zip code” which I think is in the list under Other. Or even easier, format as text and it’ll leave the zero as well 🙂

  1. I appreciated hearing another perspective! I hope you continue to seek out families that aren’t all the same.

    The guest seems to have a great arrangement with her parents!

  2. This was my favorite episode. So interesting to hear the nuts and bolts of her life. Its really cool to see how single parents, divorced parents, same sex couples etc do things bc we can all learn from each other.

    Definitely another vote for continuing the family diversity

  3. This episode was interesting and I enjoyed listening to Mel’s perspective, but I disagree with intentionally depriving a child of a father (which is much different than being a single parent due to divorce or death of a spouse). There is a great deal of research citing the importance of fathers’ influence on a child’s development; fathers were largely ignored for a while because all the focus was on the mothers’ influence. I understand why Mel thought this was the best route for her to go based on her desires to experience pregnancy, etc. but I think it is unfair to the children involved in that situation because it puts the desires of the parent ahead of the needs of the child. Anyway, that is my perspective. 🙂

    1. I hear what you’re saying but even if there had been a father involved, that’s not to say all fathers stay around. I have two friends who had men in their lives in fairly stable relationships, fell pregnant and the fathers couldn’t handle it and left. So same situation and both those kids are honestly better off than having those resentful men in their lives.

      Laura and Sarah, as someone who also conceived through IVF, I really enjoyed listening to Mel’s episode!

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