Picking up the pieces, and single parenthood

I had a conversation the other day with a long-time friend whose life is not turning out the way she thought it would, and she asked me to share her story.

After a few years of marriage, she told her husband she thought she was ready to start trying to have a child if he was. He told her that he didn't want to have a child, wasn't in love with her anymore, and wanted a divorce. She was still in shock by the time the dust settled and the papers were filed, and it took a few years for her to get back on her feet (her job was on track, fortunately, so she was ok financially, but emotionally she was devastated). In the several years since she's dated, but hasn't found anyone she wants to be with and can trust.

She just found out that her ex-husband has gotten remarried and his new wife is expecting a baby. Although she has processed the divorce, the fact that he didn't want to live a specific life with her but is now living it with someone else is cutting her to the core. She is in the middle of a grad school program to advance her career, and has started getting serious about her health and fitness. But this news about her ex has brought up thoughts she's had for awhile of trying to have a baby on her own. She's 42, so she doesn't even know if she can at this point, but she's thinking about it. She's always wanted to have a child, and felt like she needed to be married, but that doesn't look like it will ever happen.

I think there are two things to talk about in this story. The obvious one (to me) is that I think that if she wants to be a mom she should be a mom. Most single parents didn't grow up thinking we were going to be single parents, but now that we're here it's fine. Would we want an engaged, loving partner to parent with? Of course. But I think the vast majority of us would rather be single parents than single non-parents. (If you disagree, please speak up in the comments.)

There are all sorts of ways to become a parent, of course, so she may have more time than she thinks she has, depending on what ways she's willing to consider to become a mother.

The bigger idea in her story (and the reason she wanted me to tell it) is the question of how you move on from the destruction of the life you always thought you were going to have. That's a topic that's near and dear to my heart, as I am not living the life I thought I'd have, either. I think what makes my story and her story different, though, is that I chose to get off the track I was on when it became too painful for me. I had to form this vision of a new life that I could love more than the life I'd thought I was going to have (but wasn't actually living). She didn't choose to get out of her marriage, and the rejection still hurts. She didn't know that she wasn't in a happy marriage until he wanted out, so the divorce felt like the end of that life, and she didn't have a new vision to replace it.

So how do you build something new that you love, when you still wanted your old life? If she'd felt the destruction of her marriage as it happened and had been living in an unhappy situation it would have been easier to move on. But her experience was being in something good, and then suddenly it was gone. How do you get over something that was stolen from you?

I'd love all your thoughts on moving on and transitions and making a new life, and rejection and rebuilding. And on being a single mom, too, if you have thoughts about that.