Surviving (and Thriving) as a Single Mom

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1You’re Not Alone


When my daughter, Mae, was 7 months old, her father and I split up. He left the country — without saying goodbye, I might add — to start a new life. I was a hormonal, heartbroken 28-year-old, and in between work hours spent editing textbooks, I nursed Mae and mashed up baby food.

That first year was chaos. It didn’t help that there were no single-mom role models in my life — except, say, Madonna, who was also parenting solo at the time. If she can do it, I can, I used to think, but I hardly had a superstar’s life. Fortunately, I had a fantastic group of friends who helped. Maybe none of them knew exactly what I was going through, but they babysat and showered Mae with love, which I appreciate to this day.

After a time, I got back on my feet and ventured out. And what did I see? A lot more single moms than I had ever noticed before. In fact, in 2005, nearly 4 in 10 babies in the U.S. were born outside of marriage, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It’s an all-time high — and it’s not due to teen moms (teen motherhood is at its lowest rate in 65 years). Births to unmarried women ages 25 to 29 are up 30 percent since 1991; births to unmarried women ages 30 to 44 are up 17 percent. One caveat: Statistics don’t tell how many single moms are with a partner (and choosing not to get married), how many live with family (so they have some help around), and how many are truly alone. But the point is, there are a lot of single moms out there.

Day-to-day duties for a solo parent are no different than they are for a married one: coping with sleeplessness, finding child care, paying bills. But… you’re on your own. Even so, single mothers agree that even when overwhelmed, there’s usually a way to work out problems. Here are some of the biggest worries of new single moms, and a few words of wisdom. Continues on the next page…

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