Singlemomhood, is that even a word? If not, perhaps it should be. I mean parenthood is a word!
Recently, just for “gits and shiggles” as they say, I posted on Facebook: “I remember being a single mom back in the day! It’s hard! Hey single parents: what do you think is the biggest struggle?”
I found that the challenges are much the same today as they were back in the day, if you can call the ‘90s “back in the day.”
Here are a few common struggles reported by single moms:
- “The non-stop moving and all the things to be done… and money. It’s like you have no sleep, then have to get them ready, work an 8-hour shift… get them settled, cook, clean and somehow do the things you need to do for yourself as well….”
- ”Doing it all alone with no child support.”
- “There is no quitting.”
- And the saddest of all, was when one mom explained: “The absent parent believes that the kid is not their responsibility and seeing the pain on my child’s face wondering where their dad is.”
I want my mistakes and successes to help other single parents. It wasn’t always quick or easy, but I reached my goal.
Here’s my journey from single mom to landlord and entrepreneur, complete with missteps, detours, and struggles.
Entering the Land of Single Mommies
Back in the early ’90s, I found myself in the land of single mommies. I did not expect it. Heck, I am not sure I even wanted it, but there I was. I had four little girls depending solely on me. The youngest was still an infant and the others ranged in age up through ten.
Money was a constant struggle, yet still not the greatest challenge I faced. I was so busy, busy, busy, trying to “get everything done,” that I missed the chance to enjoy my girls. They became projects. I had to make sure they were clean, fed, had a roof over their little heads.
In the rare moments I had time to spend with them, I fought to keep my eyes open.
Eventually I learned to think outside of the box. Before “house hacking” or “income suite” had been coined as terms, I rented out a section of my house just to survive. The renter paid most of my mortgage, allowing me to virtually live for free. I was even able to enlist some child care help from them as well!
Surviving in this Strange Land
As life marched onward, a norm evolved. An exhausting norm, but it had its own rhythm and routine. I worked, juggled my daughters’ needs, and worked some more.
At first, I was a personal assistant to a builder. The hours were long and the pay was short, but I started gaining skills. I learned about scheduling sub-contractors, and how to obtain permits, how to circumvent the tight-knit tangle of local politics to get things done. Before I knew it, I was managing the construction of a new home development. On the side I did bookkeeping for our contractors, to help make ends meet.
The head builder owned a vacation home, a block from the boardwalk in a New Jersey beach town. I proposed a deal: I would manage it, if I could use it when it was not rented. He accepted, and I was able to provide my troop with some summer fun.
Eventually, I moved on to manage a community of over two hundred apartments. It was closer to home and came with benefits. I had managed property in the past, so when the opportunity came along it was a no-brainer.
Emerging on the Other Side of the Land
Eventually, I began dating. Where did I find the time? Whenever I could squeeze it out of thin air.
I never was fond of the dating game. Sitting through endless meals, worrying about how my kids were, slogging through small talk and interview-like questions. Eventually, the question of kids would always come up, and as soon as most suitors heard I had four, they would leave skid marks in their hasty retreat.
Except one. I met my current husband through a friend. He already knew how many little ones I had, yet he remained. Two chaotic families became one: him, me, his young son, my four daughters, and a small zoo of pets.