Dear Carolyn: I’m getting ready to pick a donor for my pursuit of single motherhood, and I’m toying with the idea of a Sperm Picking Party. I would screen a list of potential donors, and then close friends and family would come over, drink a bunch of wine and narrow us down to the winner.
I know my friends would be a blast, less sure about the family, but don’t want to exclude them … I mentioned this to my mother and she immediately said she didn’t want to be invited. I told her I was mentioning it to feel out her interest, whether she would feel excluded if she wasn’t invited, and she immediately backpedaled and said she wanted to be there.
It was a little disconcerting and hurtful that she was so instantly un-interested in being part of this. Should I accept her second answer as more considered and thoughtful than her initial rejection? It occurred to me this type of reaction to my decision to be a single mother will be common. How do I begin to prep for what will likely be years of negative judgments from others? I’m very secure in my decision, but not impervious to judgment.
You do see the irony, I hope, in wanting a more “considered and thoughtful” response to making a game of drunkenly choosing your child’s father?
You will get some negative judgments from people who think single parents aren’t good for kids or society, and there’s little you can do about those except be the best parent you can — which presumably you were going to do anyway for your child’s sake, not theirs.
You can make this path easier to travel, though, by not inviting criticism with choices that are tone-deaf at best, and at worst cavalier.
You are taking on a sacred responsibility. That doesn’t mean you can’t joke about it, mercifully, or a good percentage of parents would go out of their minds. It just means recognizing the line between joking about that responsibility, and making a joke of it. Cross over, and few will comfortably follow you there.
Dear Carolyn: My mother-in-law has a hard time with “no” to any of her invitations. We do attend holiday gatherings, etc., but sometimes we choose not to attend something for no other reason than my husband does not wish to be around his sister.
His mother wants to know why and what we are doing instead. How does one respond appropriately?
Apparently Husband has issues with Mother, too, or else Mother would know about his objections to Sister, Husband would know about Mother’s disappointment in that, and each would try to meet the other halfway.
Absent that intimacy and mutual respect, you and your husband must decide what your priorities — and boundaries — are and respond accordingly. Do you want to remain arm’s-length polite? “So sorry, can’t make it that day.” Or, do you want one answer that applies hereafter: “It’s not you, Mom — we just can’t always come. Tell us when something’s particularly important to you, though.” Or do you want to let those chips fall? “I’m sorry, Mom, I need breaks from Sister sometimes — hope you understand.”
Regardless: Make time for Mother on your own initiative. Put “no” in a pillow of “yes.”
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