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Monday, July 28, 2014

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Life-altering decision

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Dear Ella,

I’ve been seeing Mark for the last nine months and have fallen in love with him and his little boy. Mark is a little older than me, but we’re on the same level in so many ways. Things are getting serious. We’ve talked about marriage, and his son Justin and I get along wonderfully. The three of us make a special family unit, and I would love to be Justin’s step-mom.

One day, I mentioned something about how wonderful it will be when we can give Justin a little brother or sister. Mark sat back in his chair and stared at me. He took my hand and said, “I don’t want any more children.” It was like I was punched in the gut. I’m only 27 and I’ve always dreamed of having a child of my own. I want to be pregnant and feel a life growing inside me. I never imagined not having my own baby. Mark is 36 and he said now that Justin is in kindergarten, he can finally enjoy him. When Justin was a baby, he was always fighting with his ex and the baby was one of the reasons they divorced, and now he’s quite content only seeing Justin every other weekend.

I can’t leave the two of them, I love them so much, but am I making a huge mistake making Mark’s family my own?

Life-altering decision

Dear Life-altering decision,

This is not the kind of question you’re going to find an answer to in an advice column. Life doesn’t come with guarantees, and whatever your decision, you will have to live with it and hope to not have regrets.

Giving up the chance of having your own baby is life-altering. Have you thought of what would happen if you and Mark split in 10 years. I’m sorry to be negative, but given the statistics for divorce and Mark’s track record, this isn’t something to overlook. Chances are, to Justin you will always be his part-time step-mom. You don’t see him enough to create the kind of bond you’re looking for. Your relationship could change as he grows, but are you prepared to take that gamble? Although Justin and Mark are a huge part of your life, are they enough to fill the void of not having your own baby? Will you one day regret making the decision to not have a a baby of your own? When Justin says in anger, “You can’t make me. You’re not my real mother,” will you be able to handle it? Will you mourn when you watch a mother in the park cradle or breast feed her infant? Fast forward 25 years, when all your friends are planning their kids’ weddings, or 30 years when your friends are showing you pictures of their grandchildren. Will you regret your decision then?

You have a lot of soul-searching to do before you can make a pivotal decision like this. Think this through very carefully, and don’t choose the easier answer. One road represents short-term pain, while the other may be forever pain. Don’t talk Mark into a decision he will resent you for, and don’t trick him in any way. (I’m sorry I’m even mentioning this, but it has been done before.)

At least you have the sense to be thinking this through. That’s a huge step in the right direction. Talk to a counsellor, or maybe other childless step-moms. Whatever you decide, don’t look back. You will not going in that direction any longer.

 

Readers may submit their questions to Ella at The CJN, e-mail: ellacjn@gmail.com. But Ella is not a professional counsellor. She brings to the questions posed by readers her unique brand of earthy wisdom. Her advice is not a replacement for medical, legal or any other advice. For serious problems, consult a professional.

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