I looked down at the hand entwined in mine. It was a hand I shook for the first time just seven months before this moment. Now we were in a dimly lit room, awaiting the “news” from the ultrasound tech. “Oh!” she exclaimed. “It looks like we’ve got the gender. See the turtle?”
I stared at the blurs of black and white on the monitor in front of me as the tech continued to narrate the parts of the male genitalia.
On the outside, I smiled. On the inside, I panicked. I have no idea how to be a “boy mom”!
But the real challenge had nothing to do with the baby’s gender: I had to learn how to co-parent.
For seven years, I was a single parent. Raising my daughter on my own made our bond unique. I never had to really share my daughter’s time. Her dad has always lived at least 1,000 miles away, so she didn’t go back and forth between two households. It was the two of us, and I loved it.
Of course, she was very close to other family members and is involved in various extracurricular activities. In fact, she’s a social butterfly and loves meeting new people. But on most days, we had each other’s undivided attention. And we loved it.
Often I found myself wrinkling my forehead when reading articles or hearing people talk about how hard it was to parent solo. Financially speaking, sure, I could relate. But in all other aspects, I disagreed. As a single parent, I never had to depend on anyone else to make dinner or share other household responsibilities; I didn’t have to coordinate who would take Lexi to dance class; or worry about varying disciplinary techniques leading to a confusing childhood.
I didn’t always feel this way. Early in Lexi’s infancy, when I was already divorced, I found myself wishing I could experience Lexi’s milestones with a partner. I never longed for a significant other out of loneliness. For me, it was purely out of the desire to share these life-changing experiences with someone else. To be able to glance at one another at the end of the day and say: Look what we’ve accomplished together.
But feeling that way during Lexi’s toddlerhood only resulted in forced relationships. So I stepped away from dating. In return, I got to experience all the joys and wonders of parenting from only one lens: my own.
A few months into my second pregnancy, my daughter and I moved two hours away to live with my boyfriend. Our family was expanding, and it was time. For the first time since becoming a parent, I became a worrier. I worried about her transition to a new second grade class after being at the same private school since she was 3. I worried about the public school curriculum; I could probably learn my boyfriend’s native language of Arabic before understanding Common Core math. I worried about her being comfortable with a father-like figure in the house. I worried about her feeling left behind when a new baby comes in the spring.
All of this worry seemed appropriate for the new changes, loved ones gently told me. But I knew something was off, and it wasn’t just the pregnancy hormones or the transition. Since finding out I was pregnant, I didn’t write as much. I didn’t meet friends for coffee. I spent more time on social media. I watched TV every night after Lexi went to bed (something I never used to do). After crying quietly in bed one night, for seemingly no reason, it hit me. The worry and recent lack of routine finally made sense: I was mourning the end of being a single parent.
I have always tried to teach Lexi the importance of seeing the other side when it comes to situations that seem negative or hard to understand — such as disagreements with friends, current events, etc.
Well, it’s time I took my own advice.
In terms of parenting, the only view I’ve had has been my own. I’ve never had to consider another perspective.
But since I’ve started co-parenting, I’ve been able to watch my boyfriend create a bond with my daughter. It makes me feel proud to observe their love. And I’ve also learned that sharing in the parenting doesn’t make my role any less significant.
As I laid there in the ultrasound room, I recall watching my boyfriend as he studied the monitor. I felt his excitement surge through our interlocked fingers. It wasn’t just the moment I became a “boy mom.” Together, we were becoming parents.