Sarah and her daughter, Margalit
Over the years we’ve started a tradition here at JewishBoston.com in which we interview our friend and colleague, Sarah Feinberg, CJP’s senior director of operations, planning and analysis, about what it’s like to be a single mother by choice. Two years ago Sarah welcomed her daughter, Margalit (Gali), and learned the ins and outs of first-time motherhood with the help of a supportive community. As summer comes to an end and Sarah preps for preschool, we checked in again to find out how raising her 2-year-old on her own is going. For more, check out parts
one and two of this series.
It’s been an entire year since we last checked in with you ! At just over 2 years old, Gali is now a toddler. What have been some of your biggest parenting joys over the past year?
The difference from 1 to 2 is astounding—watching her learn how to talk, put sentences together, run and jump. She is so talkative that it’s fun having conversations with her. She also walks around singing to herself while she plays, so I often feel like I’m living in a Broadway musical, nursery-school edition!
And what about the challenges you’ve faced? ( You knew we had to ask! )
I don’t think my challenges have been different from those of any other parent with an active toddler. But sticking to my guns when I’ve set a rule and not giving in to her is a challenge, because in the moment it’s easier but in the long run it’s much harder. Also being home with her for four days when she was sick was probably the hardest thing this year, since no one was coming home to back me up at the end of the day. Fortunately my neighbors weren’t scared of a little fever, and since some of her friends were also home sick at the same time we had a “sick playdate.”
From your past interviews we know you have a really supportive community around you. What role has this support system played in your journey?
My friends and community continue to help me feel like this journey is possible. I really feel like they are all helping me raise Gali. I get to bounce my parenting thoughts off of them, they keep us company, and I can arrange “play dates” for Gali with several of them when I need a break or want to go out.
With a full-time job and a toddler, your time is limited. What do you do to take care of yourself—and stay sane?
It’s gotten a lot easier over the past year. Gali now goes to sleep consistently on time, which gives me several hours to myself at night. Friends come over for dinner and I make dates by phone to talk to those who don’t live locally. And with many of them, we set the next time to hang out or talk before we say goodbye. This has helped a lot with not feeling so isolated.
You and Gali recently met one of Gali’s donor sisters, and her mom. Did you initiate that introduction, and how did you explain it to your daughter?
I registered Gali with the donor-sibling registry for the cryobank that I used to conceive her. Through this registry I reached out to other families with children from the same donor. I discovered that the mom of one donor sister is from Sharon, Mass., and we now know that we have multiple connections in common, so it was only natural to try to meet in person. When Gali was born, a friend and another single mother by choice gave us a book she wrote for her daughter called “Gali’s Story,” which explains how our family came to be. We read it regularly, and it talks about the “nice man” I chose to help me make a baby. I used this as a jumping-off point to talk about how this same nice man also helped make other children in other families, and that those kids are Gali’s donor sisters and donor brothers.
What are your hopes for Gali’s relationships with her donor siblings as she grows up?
As of right now, we know that she is one of eight children, and we’ve met one of them. Gali talks about it and knows that we call this girl her donor sister. And we have plans to meet up with them again and to video chat. We also have a Facebook group in which we occasionally share pictures and updates among the families. As she grows up, I hope Gali has the relationship that she wants with each of them. I want to provide her with information and develop relationships so she can decide how, and if, she wants to be connected with them as she grows up. I’m happy for us to expand our family in many different ways.
Last year we asked you how you were feeling about your decision to become a single parent. You mentioned it wasn’t the path you necessarily wanted to choose, but that it was the best decision you ever made. How are you feeling about it this year?
I am still so grateful that I was able to choose this path, and that Gali is my daughter. I continue to be amazed that I have her in my life, and I hope that one day I’ll also meet a life partner and grow our family.
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