My divorce was finalized one month after giving birth back in 1999. It was quite a year and you can just imagine my holiday newsletter. “Just wanted to drop a note to wish you the best … by the way, I’ve gotten divorced, given birth (see, I wasn’t just porking out due to a crumbling marriage), and had to change jobs. Oh yeah, and I also had to move out of the house and into a rental, so you might want to note this new address in pencil.”
I have to admit that despite the awful concept, and the fact that there’s no one around required to tell you that you’re still beautiful or talk you down from all your horrible thoughts about what could go wrong with the baby, there are some huge advantages to being pregnant during a divorce. First, you can’t drink yourself silly and wind up married to the next inappropriate bloke. Second, there’s nothing like being dumped back onto the dating scene one month after giving birth to motivate you to fit back into your skinny jeans. And, finally, after years of trying to being a “good girl,” there’s actually some relief to be tossed off the perfection bandwagon.
Really, what can be less perfect than a single mother with a baby? Suddenly, I had every excuse to have a messy house, screw up at work, and basically toss the rule book out the window. It would be absolutely impossible for me to live by the standards set forth by all the parenting books and magazines. In fact, I was even told by a hospital administrator that I couldn’t attend Lamaze classes because I didn’t have a partner! Imagine that. Just because you’re alone and pregnant, you’re barred from learning what’s going to happen in the delivery room. (Special thanks to high-up friends at the hospital and to my pal, Candace, to whom I am forever indebted for spending a Saturday pretending to be my “partner.”)
Yet, that was my first introduction to the sad fact that society still wasn’t ready to deal with single mothers, let alone an ambitious career girl. Then again, I was a bit naive like Diane Keaton in Baby Boom, so I’m not sure I was ready for my new life either. “What do you mean all my years of hard work count for nothing now that I’m a mom?” “Can it really be true that even if I can afford the $20,000 it costs for full-time daycare in the city, there’s no guarantee I will even get off a waiting list?” “Is it bad to load your kid up on 8-hour Motrin and hope they don’t realize he’s sick again?” “What, me? I’m not sick …hack… hack … hack … just give me another zinc tablet, … wheeze …. besides I used up my sick days for my son.”