Neighborhoods

November 28, 2015

I decided to have a child as a single-parent-by-choice. By the time I was almost 30 years old, I had had several meaningful relationships but none of them were lasting.

I was dedicated to being a writer but I thought that if that was the only really significant thing in my life that I would regret not having more. More to me was having a child.

It seems most of what I have done in my extremely varied life has made its way into the print or electronic media one way or another. Either I have written the stories or someone else has put them down on paper or broadcast them.

Here is the story of me beginning my life as a single parent to my son, Luke, who is now 28 years old:

Winnipeg Free Press

1988?

Neighborhoods

by Ross McLennan

Luke Lester’s father lives in Cyprus and has never seen his six-month-old son.

And there’s a pretty good chance he never will.

“I don’t want to call him Luke’s father,” says Tanya Lester, 32, cradling little Luke in her arms as we sit talking in her Simcoe Street home.

All of which sounds like a bitter reaction to a nasty marriage breakdown.

Except things aren’t always what they seem to be.

Lester is a single parent by choice, a woman who has opted to have a child outside marriage, free of any kind of relationship with a man.

“The biological clock was ticking,” says Lester, explaining why she decided to head into a situation single women were once supposed to avoid at all costs. “I had been living on my own for a number of years. I felt if I waited much longer I might get set in my ways and never have a child.”

Tanya suggested the idea to the man with whom she was having a relationship while living in Cyprus. The relationship wasn’t destined to last. She planned to return to Canada, he wanted to remain in Cyprus. She is a feminist, he the product of a patriarchal society. But they were happy together and that, she says, was an important consideration when she asked him to be the father of her child.

“I want to kee[ some lines of communication open, in case Luke decides to go to see him some day. I don’t really have the right to take that away from him.

“Some people may feel that’s a sexist attitude. Society has a thing about the male seed. But I don’t think I can impose my political beliefs on him to that degree.”

But while Luke’s parentage isn’t something Lester’s going to keep secret from him, the man in Cyprus isn’t considered part of the family.

Which brings us back to where we started.

“I don’t want to call him Luke’s father.

“If Luke grows up and wants to be a father someday, I want it to be obvious to him that’s not the way to be a father.”

Her family proved receptive to her becoming a single mother by choice and have provided her with the support group anyone making the same decision needs.

But can’t that kind of support and good parenting come from a good relationship traditional or otherwise?

“I don’t think the two things necessarily go hand in hand,” says Lester. “I think that’s why the divorce rate is so high.

There is, of course, another way for a woman to become a single parent by choice: taking advantage of artificial imsemination programs like the one offered at the Health Sciences Centre.

“There’s something a little bit too scientific about that,” says Lester.

So far Lester hasn’t encountered a great deal of opposition or outrage from people over her decision to become a single parent by choice.

“In our society people are fairly open-minded about it,” she says, adding that divorced single parents are the persons most shocked at her actions.

The problems Lester has run into are more subtle than outright hostility. During prenatal classes, the nurse insisted on referring to every women’s partner as her “husband”, even though Lester herself was accompanied by her sister. And forms she filled out during her pregnancy often contained a question pertaining to her husband’s career.

“It’s not really harsh discrimination,” she says, “but it’s those kinds of things that will be encountered.”

Lester, who is an active feminist, is trying to establish a single-parents-by-choice support group to help women in her situation deal with a society not quite sure how to handle them.

She’s certain there will be an increasing number of single women who will make the choice she has made.

“A lot of us find we do have love to give and feel we just might be missing out on something.

“Having a career is not the only thing in life, and I think a lot of feminists are just beginning to realize this.”

–END–

For more information on Tanya Lester, read some of the other posts on this blog at tealeaf56.wordpress.com or at writingsmall.wordpress.com or go to her website at http://www.teareading.wordpress.com or to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Google.

 

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