Credit: Candice Febrile
No matter the home you grew up in, you’ve likely been influenced to conform in one way or another. Even parents with the best intentions expose their children to societal expectations. Yes, even if you were raised by the cool, free-spirited hippie mom who taught you how to meditate and turn inward for guidance on any major decision rather than asking anyone else.
For many of us, we were taught to “grow up, get married, become a mom, be a great wife, have a great career, do all the things, and you’ll have found your bliss.” You may have even believed that some chiselled Disney prince would show up at your door, slide your elegant, perfectly pedicured foot into a glass slipper, and you’d ride off into the sunset. If your name is Cinderella and the shoe fits, this story isn’t for you.
I know tradition has its place. I personally love all of the holiday traditions we celebrate, and how great is it looking back on annual first-day-of-school photos? For some, traditional marriage is also a beautiful choice. The union of two people and choosing to do life together is wonderful. It just wasn’t the thing for me. Although, initially, I thought it was.
At the ripe old age of twenty-four, I got engaged to my high school sweetheart and made big plans for our life together. I thought I was living the dream. Shortly into our engagement, we found out we were pregnant. The husband and the baby? Everything I imagined for my grown-up existence was unfolding just the way I hoped it would.
On a snowy spring day, my beautiful baby girl made her grand entrance. She was perfect, with a full head of black hair, big blue eyes, and the most delicious rolls of newborn goodness. Although we were surrounded by baby perfection, the fairytale ended shortly after. Within the year, my fiance and I separated.
Part of me always knew it would fall apart. I understand now that we were two emotionally unavailable people with broken hearts, looking for fulfilment in someone else.
Following my separation, I took the time to sit with my sadness and heartache. To reflect on what had transpired and how to move forward. Then, I decided to do better for myself and my daughter. I got us settled in a little apartment, and over time, it felt like home. I dipped my toe into the dating pool and almost immediately drowned, so I stepped back.
During one of our custody hearings, my attorney told me about a client who had a baby on her own after her traumatic separation. At the time, I thought it was a great idea for her but gave it little thought for myself. Months went by and I couldn’t seem to get the idea out of my head.
I shared the idea with my best friend and she agreed it was a great choice for my little family. She knew how much I wanted my daughter to have a sibling. I researched for months until I contacted a fertility clinic in my area. Excitement and nausea took over as I went in for my initial consultation.
“Am I going to do this? Can I do this? What if I can’t do it? What if I can’t afford it? What if people think badly of me for doing this?”
Thankfully, the consultation was surprisingly simple. The doctor asked me routine questions and provided me with a handful of requisitions for medical tests to begin the process. I left the clinic feeling empowered but still mildly apprehensive.
After years of researching choice motherhood, soul searching and unsuccessful IUIs, I finally conceived my second child, my son. A beautiful, dark-haired, brown-eyed big guy with newborn rolls that were just as perfect as his big sissy’s.
As I write this, my daughter is eight and my son is two. I’m a single mom, business owner, and mentor for other women and mothers going through divorce, separation or navigating having a baby on their own. I am so grateful for how life turned out for my family and me.
My “failed engagement” was hardly a failure. At this point in my life, I was offered an opportunity to flourish or flounder. Momentarily, I fumbled, but ultimately, I became the woman and mother I had always dreamed of becoming. Breaking tradition was the best thing I did in my life, and I’d do it again every time.
Candice Katherine Febrile is a mentor and advocate for single mothers and choice mothers. She is the founder of Single Mom Mindset, a program for women navigating choice motherhood, and offers mentorship for women and mothers looking for healing and empowerment. She is a writer, speaker, and podcast host (Single Mom Mindset podcast). She lives in Montreal with her two children.
Keep up with your baby's development, get the latest parenting content and receive special offers from our partners