Sara Lanthier was 38 and single. But skipping love and marriage didn't mean forgoing the baby carriage, too.
At eight years old, Will is Sara Lanthier's everything. "He's hilarious and smart. He's super artsy and could build Lego for three hours at a time and not bat an eye," his mother asserts.
Nine years ago, Sara had written off being a mom. At 38, after a handful of short-lived relationships and one failed engagement, she thought, It's not going to happen; I'm already in my late 30s and I haven't met anybody. Plus, she didn't think she could manage the expense of raising a child on her own, so she made peace with her status as the resident fun aunt in the family.
Then, one night, her dad and her stepmom sat her down and suggested she try to have a child on her own. "It hit me out of left field," she says, but they praised her strength and her independence and promised to help out financially. Though motherhood had never seemed like an option, Sara realized the only thing that had been stopping her was the question of money. She decided to do it.
She picked a donor through Xytex Corp, an American sperm bank that divulges extensive donor information, including a personal essay and photos of the donor as a child and an adult. She went through more than 60 profiles to narrow down to her top five options, then she had her friends over for a cocktail party to help make the final decision. "I joke that I went with their No. 1 pick because my taste in men is what landed me in this situation," she says.
Alas, when she went to order him, he was sold out. Instead, she went with her friends' second choice—and her first—a German-Portuguese glassblower and artist.
After Sara underwent several rounds of tests with LifeQuest Centre for Reproductive Medicine in Toronto, the time for insemination finally arrived. Because of Sara's age, the chance of success was only 33 percent, but she found out six days later that she had conceived, and the pregnancy stuck.
She knows she's fortunate to have a supportive family, and because she lives in a time when it's possible to become a single mother by choice. "I have friends at my neighbourhood coffee shop who are in their 70s and never had kids. They wish this had been an option when they were younger," she says.
But her luckiest break has been Will. The day he was brought to her hospital room from intensive care (he was born 10 days early), she says, "it was like a first date." They wheeled him in and she sat there, staring at his tiny face. In the span of a few hours, she'd gone from a single woman to having a partner in crime for life. "We're a team," she says. "It's just me and him."
When writer Shana Gray's marriage ended, she thought she'd never find love again. Then, a weeklong foray into the world of online dating renewed her faith in romance—and herself.
"I'm leaving you tonight. I won't be there when you get home."
After 22 years of building a home and a family together, those were the only words Shana Gray's husband, Tim*, had left for her. His announcement—delivered by phone call while Shana was at work—came three weeks after she'd discovered he was having an affair with a mutual friend. "I had expected to be with him for the rest of my life," she says.
After Tim moved out in April 2003, Shana was ridden with insecurity. "I remember thinking that, if my ex didn't want me after 22 years, how could anyone else ever want me?" She was afraid to trust a new man after the horror stories she'd heard from her police officer ex-husband, and it didn't help matters when she watched a TV show about male stalkers one drunken night with her girlfriends. Maybe I'll just be single for the rest of my life, she thought.
Shana had been single for 18 months when one of her friends suggested she sign up for a dating site; the friend had found love online and thought Shana could do the same. But she was skeptical. At the time, there was still a stigma surrounding online dating, and Shana assumed most men trolling for women on the web were "scuzzbags." She finally agreed to log on—for a one-week trial.
Then, on Day 2, Steve* found her. Like in a cheesy '90s rom-com, his profile was titled "Looking for Ms. Right." His bio made him seem "down-to-earth and honest," so they struck up a conversation, moving quickly from chatting on the website to hour-long phone calls each evening at 10. Shana felt like she'd known him for ages.
When it came time to meet in person, they decided to grab a coffee at the mall. They had never seen pictures of each other, and Shana was scared Steve might not be physically attracted to her. "I'm a curvy girl," she says. She also had her friends on alert in case he was a creep. But when the couple embraced, there was an instant connection—and they've been together ever since.
In hindsight, Shana, now 55, realized the end of her marriage was the best thing that ever happened to her, as it made way for Steve to enter her life. A far better match for her, he's also much more supportive of her writing. She wrote and published her first novella in 2010 and has since authored several romance novels under the pen name Shana Gray. "Steve felt that I needed to have an outlet," she says. "He'd tell me, ‘You've got to follow your heart. You've got to do what you love.' "
*Names have been changed.
Instead of reaching for the phone, try these takeout recipes you can make at home.
Always check packaged food labels for gluten, including ketchup (Heinz is gluten-free), sriracha, fish sauce and broth (homemade stock is best – and safest).
Everyone needs a fried rice recipe in his or her repertoire, because it's great for using up leftovers.
Serve these burgers to people who don't like lentils and they'll soon be converted!
Sub in different vegetables depending on what you have in your crisper to make unique brown rice sushi.
East meets West in these tasty little bites. We've doubled up on the spring roll wrappers, which provides extra crunch and prevents the filling from bursting out.
This recipe can easily be left to simmer away in a slow cooker for eight hours before adding the chicken.
Roasting all but one of the garlic cloves pumps up flavour to the max without having the overpowering taste of raw cloves.
No need for messy, greasy deep-frying with these crunchy baked wings. They make a fun meal for two – just add some sliced baby cukes, carrots and cherry tomatoes for a crunchy, fresh side.
Put down that takeout menu! This healthy spin on beef and broccoli will leave you feeling full and guilt-free.
This Vietnamese favourite is easy to make and is just as suitable for a main course as it is for an appetizer.
The essence of this Vietnamese pho lies in the long-cooking, rich beef broth which forms the base of the soup - the slow cooker is the ultimate tool for the task.
Our foolproof dough delivers the most amazing pizza crust you'll ever taste. The long rising time results in a lovely texture and extra-rich flavour.
This twist on a takeout favourite is made with sautéed chicken instead of greasy fried beef.
There's no need to dial up dinner when you can make this takeout classic – better, cheaper and faster – at home.
Even kids who hate fish with devour these fish fingers, and our Sweet Potato Oven Fries provide enormous amounts of vitamins A and C.
Photo courtesy of Paul Bradbury/237/Ocean/Corbis Credits: Photo courtesy of Paul Bradbury/237/Ocean/Corbis
|This story was originally titled "Higher Learning" in the September 2014 issue.|
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