working single moms

I rarely talk about the difficulty of being a single mother because I don’t like to dwell on it. While it is extremely emotionally taxing raising Le Kid without his father’s input, the day-to-day logistical matters haven’t been overly arduous.

What can I say? I’m blessed. Though my experience isn’t the same as everyone else’s, I’m not unique, either.

Like many single parents, I have a great village that fills in the gaps and helps out with Le Kid when I need it. So, calling myself a “single” mother sort of feels wrong and discounts the fact that my family has played a tremendous role in helping me raise him.

But not everyone has a village. And even when you do, the gravity of raising a child alone makes this an extremely difficult undertaking. But in spite of this, I believe there is still no excuse to NOT follow your dreams.

If I had a dollar for every person who told me, they’d love to do what I do (you know, quit their job and follow their passion), but couldn’t because of the kids, my emergency fund would be on swole.

While it is certainly challenging to juggle a job, a child, your emotions, their appointments, cooking dinner, school meetings, and still have time to sleep…doing what you love while parenting solo totally possible.


J.K. Rowling, the prolific (and now amazingly wealthy) writer behind the Harry Potter series, has written at length about being a single mom trying to support her son, while trying to get her novel published. In the politically-charged essay titled, “The Single Mother’s Manifesto,” Rowling recalls a few of the tough times.

She writes: “Between 1993 and 1997 I did the job of two parents, qualified and then worked as a secondary school teacher, wrote one and a half novels and did the planning for a further five. For a while, I was clinically depressed. To be told, over and over again, that I was feckless, lazy — even immoral — did not help.”

Rowling isn’t the only one. Maya Angelou wrote an entire book about her struggles (and trust me, she has all your problems beat…with interest) and subsequent triumphs of being a single parent—and we know how well she turned out.

Dr. Angelou once said of solo-parenting:

“I struggled, sure. We lived hand-to-mouth, but it was really heart-to-hand. Guy [her son] had love and laughter and a lot of good reading and poetry as a child. Having my son brought out the best in me and enlarged my life. Whatever he missed, he himself is a great father today. He was once asked what it was like growing up in Maya Angelou’s shadow, and he said, ‘I always thought I was in her light.’

asha bandele is another. In her book, Something Like Beautiful she chronicles her journey of solo parenting while her daughter’s father is incarcerated (a story I know well). Despite the loneness, the lack of money, the difficulty managing it all, bandele—a working journalist–has managed to write two memoirs, one novel, and two collections of poetry.

In Something Like Beautiful she writes:

Parenting is all about replaying David and Goliath. It’s about having to go toe-to-toe against entities immeasurably larger than you are or ever will be: from the fast-food chains to the soft-porn music videos pumped out newer and nastier each passing minute, from Christmas and Halloween and all other holidays that celebrate nothing but how much money one mom, one dad, one family, can spend.

You fight the health-care system, the educational system, everything out there that would make one-size-fits-all solution for your very individual child and his or her very individual needs. If you don’t have the wherewithal to gangsta up when the time comes, Goliath will win.

And in spite of having to “gangsta up” and fight all manner of things that single parents are required to do battle with, asha bandele, and Maya Angelou, and  J.K. Rowling, and Toni Morrison, and so many others have managed to raise children and still do what they love.

So why not you?

Money will always be tight and time will always be scarce, but when it comes to pursuing a life and career you truly love vs. working a job you hate for 20 years simply because it’s the “responsible” thing to do, there is no competition.

Imagine how much happier, well taken care of and loved your children will feel once you are able to live a life that you actually enjoy, instead of just getting by.

When I was still teaching–a job that both physically and emotionally drained me–I wasn’t too kind to my son. We argued every morning, I felt guilty because I was too tired to do anything with him after school, and was upset that all we had were weekends to spend time together and explore.

These days, my life is completely different. I work from home, we unschool, we are able to randomly explore our city most afternoons, and I feel like our time together is better spent. I am happier, less stressed, and a better mom.

Do I have as much expendable cash as before? Not yet. But my income is no longer dependent on other people’s budgets and plans. I’m in charge of my own destiny and that both propels and inspires me.

Though every single parent doesn’t want to be an entrepreneur, we all have dreams for our life that we often times put on hold in service of our children. But we don’t have to.

As I wrote about before, we make time for the things we want to make time for. And while time and resources and patience is tight, if others are able to juggle being a single parent while pursuing the life that they want—you can too.

Remove your fears, cast your self-doubt and judgment aside and get ready to thrive.

I’m a living testimony of what’s possible when you step out on faith, are stubborn enough to want to make your ideal life happen, and begin taking the steps necessary to make it a reality.

Won’t you try it for yourself?

Are you a single parent who is hesitant about pursuing your dreams? Or have you stepped out on faith to accomplish your goals in spite of being a single parent? Please leave a comment and share your experience with me. 

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