Motherhood

Dating as a Single Mom

Dating as a Single Mom

My first date with S. was over Bloody Marys and fried potatoes at Vinegar Hill House in Brooklyn. Fleetwood Mac was on the stereo. We bonded about our New England roots, and delighted in throwback slang, like ‘wicked’ and ‘grinder.’ I insisted he take the leftovers home. He walked me to my small DUMBO loft, which sat on a noisy highway. Before we said goodbye, he asked if I wanted to hang out again…

I said, “No… Just kidding… Yes, of course.”

The truth is, even if we didn’t hang again, even if I never heard from him again, even if I ghosted him immediately, that lovely mid-morning date with a handsome, interesting guy was good enough for me. A brief flirtation and fiery cocktail was all I really desired.

After all, I had a seven-month-old upstairs.

S. and I originally met on Tinder, where I was open about the fact that I’d had a baby via sperm donor. He was not the first, nor the last, guy who embraced that not-so-insignificant detail. During my pregnancy, the only man I craved was Justin of the Peanut Butter Cup, but when I finally recovered from my C-section, got into a breastfeeding groove, and felt quasi-human again, I had decided to get back on the market.

Why not? First of all, my parents and sister helped me so much. On a deeper note: I had nothing to hide. I felt extremely liberated by my decision to become a ‘Single Mother by Choice.’ It was (and still is) a great pleasure to talk to new people about the journey.

Which is why I had mixed emotions when things with S. got serious quickly. I didn’t need him around, but I sure wanted him around. He met Hazel on date three. By date four, we all went to a Dolly Parton concert with his parents and siblings in Maine. We took her hiking upstate, which coincided with a work trip for him. We watched her crawl for the first time on the floor of a hotel lobby — while on a magazine assignment for me. Everything just meshed. We were the modern definition of Togetherness.

But it wasn’t all room service and L.L.Bean. Things get real, fast, when you’re dating with a baby. Before we even reached the three-month mark, we survived chronic carsickness, Lyme disease, daily sleep-deprivation and a devastating professional heartbreak (mine). I never had time to shop for lacy bras, let alone shave my legs or wear glowy makeup. We barely went to any cool, cultural activities unless they ended by 6:45 p.m. Those early stages of dating that are often filled with drunken nights and romantic drifting were pretty much impossible for us.

Whatever the sacrifices were, we liked what we had. We felt lucky. We were falling in love. He adored my daughter and helped me so much. Then life got even more real.

I’m very social — as the ultra-reserved S. will tell you — so it’s no big surprise that Hazel is a chatterbox. It was a little surprising, however, when she started calling him “Da-Da” around 11-months-old. Granted, she also called dogs “Da-Da’s.” We laughed it off by telling people she thought S. was a big puppy. “DaDa” soon turned to “Daddy” and while we never pushed it, we also never corrected it. People would say, “Awww. Kids just know.” Do they? I had complicated feelings about it. Mostly I wondered: Is this happening too soon?

I sought advice on a popular Single Mom by Choice Facebook group that had always been helpful in the past. “My daughter started calling my boyfriend ‘Daddy.’ I feel comfortable with it. He is overjoyed. Is this okay? I’m scared.”

No one responded. Not a peep. Not even a “Like.”

Had I betrayed the group? I started to worry it came off as insensitive. They might have thought I was bragging — but actually it was the contrary. I felt proud to be a solo parent and idolized the single moms who helped me get there. Alas, transitioning into a more conventional family structure was about to be one of the hardest decisions of my life. I felt friendless. I guess I didn’t belong in that Facebook group anymore.

Instead, I turned within. What would it really mean if she started to call him Daddy? I knew we’d be together for a long time, but relationships are always risky. When it came to raising my daughter, I could make whatever choices I wanted. Was I prepared to release my grip on that autonomy? Would it still be Hazel-and-me against the world? It took a lot of soul-searching and reflection. It took trusting conversations with S. and private moments with Hazel and all my female intuition. In the end, I followed my heart. Like everything else in our relationship, Hazel calling S. “Daddy” felt natural and right.

During my first months as a single mom, sometimes I’d wish for a partner to delight in her gloriousness with. The hilarious, life-affirming things babies do can be so heartwarming and surreal that it occasionally felt counterintuitive to experience those happy-tear moments in isolation. Now that she’s two, I’m tested more physically than emotionally. I’m constantly carrying Hazel, the stroller, her scooter, her helmet, our groceries (aka: waffles, Talenti and wine), my coat, her jean jacket, my pocketbook, her pocketbook, her babies, my keys if I can find them, etc. I often get home and my arms and legs are shaking. Now I can say, “Thank goodness I have a second set of hands!” I’m so grateful to have a loving partner worthy of my and Hazel’s complete adoration. I could also say, “One more pair of socks to pick up and also, um, the will to move my body for, um, sex?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” It’s not a single mom or working mom or married mom thing — parenting can sometimes feel crazy amazing and crazy hard.

Many times a day — especially now that we all live together in an apartment in Brooklyn — I ask myself, “Am I still a single mom?” I think about bringing Hazy home from the hospital. Just the two of us. She came a month early and was so fragile yet so fierce. When I wasn’t trying to fatten her up or lull her to sleep under the warm October sun, I’d just gaze at my baby… in shock and awe and wonder of it all. Those first few months of her life were powerful and miraculous — as was the entire road toward motherhood. Single Mom is still in my soul, and I’m not ready to say goodbye to her. We’ve been through too much.

But I am ever so grateful for the way parenthood has unfolded so far. This road-less-traveled to motherhood has rewarded me with so many beautiful and surprising gems. Baby to dating to Daddy, everything came out of order. All that matters is that it has always felt right.

P.S. Alyssa’s first post about having Hazel, and a thoughtful quote about single parenting.

(Illustration by Alessandra Olanow for Cup of Jo.)

  1. It matters to be happy. Happy mother is happy children.

  2. Michelle Chang says...

    Love that you were thoughtful and looked inside to your inner voice as a guide!

  3. Kelly says...

    May I ask, what does “would it still be Hazel-and-me against the world” mean? Is it the struggle of independence vs what the perceived norm is? Thank you!! Enjoyed reading your article.

  4. Katie says...

    This is so interesting to me. I’ve always felt that I would rather have a child than a romantic partner. I’m not in a place to choose to birth or adopt a child on my own, and dating in my town is hard enough as it is, so I can’t imagine combining the stresses of single motherhood with trying to find a partner for life. I’m so impressed by the women who balance those facets of themselves while giving so much to their children! Thanks for sharing this story.

  5. I didn’t start parenthood as a single mama but became one in 2006, when my son was 6. Five years later, I met my current partner who inherited a then-11 year old. I have welcomed all the support and help and I’m grateful for no longer being on the parenting journey alone. But I learned a lot about myself in those years when I was a mama on her own and I am sometimes wistful for the little dynamic duo that was my son and me. Thisessay really resonated —– thank you!

  6. Amber says...

    I enjoyed reading this lovely post and am so happy for this mom, but lets call a spade a spade. She is not a single mother. I would love to see a post with an actual single mother on dating. I feel alone out here in this dating pool as a mother of 2.

    • Emily says...

      Hey there – I’m also a single mother of two (well co-parent really, the children’s father and I do week about care), and have been dating for about the past 6 months. I’m not ready for anything serious, so the children have not met any of the men I’ve been seeing. I feel like I’m living two lives – both enjoyable – but it will be interesting in the future, blending the two together. Although I’m getting all my needs met between the children, my friends, and my dating life so it may well be that this is what works best for me and for my boys.

  7. Stephanie says...

    Thank you for this story. Like one of the earlier comments, it is far from typical, though it gives a lot of hope to single parents out there that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Like many others who have commented, I became a single parent by accident, not by choice. I agree that those who chose to have children via sperm donor do feel more joyful and empowered as they made that decision in their own and they prepared themselves financially and emotionally.

    I live in Australia where government support for single parents are fantastic. We get financial aid as well as subsidised childcare. However, whenever someone laments they don’t receive the same benefits as I do even though they’re on a single income since most decide to be stay-at-home mums, my blood boils. I would give away all the benefits in the world to have a partner to parent with and a father for my child. As many have said, it is not the same when your partner goes away for a week.

    One thing that nobody really talks about is how lonely it is to be a single parent. As an Asian immigrant with no extended family here, I don’t know anybody in a similar situation. Most other single parents at least have family support around them. So instead of nodding whenever someone says something unintentional insensitive, I merely avoid. I have try to avoid going out on weekends. I avoid birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and especially Christmas. Mostly because I don’t want my loneliness amplified when I see families out and about celebrating. Their happiness makes me feel like a failure that I couldn’t provide that for my child.

    Of course there are good days where I feel great, and thankful for my beautiful child who doesn’t even flinch when her friends ask where is her dad. She merely answers she doesn’t have one and my heart breaks for her. The lonely days far outnumber the good days.

    I really enjoy all your Motherhood posts but it would be nice to read more about other unconventional families like mine and make us feel less alone. But thank you for posting this one. Reading all the lovely comments has been uplifting on one of my lonely days.

    • Alice says...

      I am so sorry to hear that you feel this way Stephanie- my heart broke for you. I just wanted to say that it sounds like you are doing an AMAZING job for your daughter, and not providing the “conventional” does not make you a failure in any way.
      I know that can’t take away the loneliness, but it sounds like you are beating yourself up for something that isn’t necessary. Just remember that you are your daughter’s favourite person in the whole entire world, and you two are probably the most brilliant team.
      Sending you absolutely loads of love!

    • Hi Stephanie, I totally agree on the loneliness of being a single parent, I ‘m sorry you’re going through this. You are doing an amazing job, you really are, and your daughter knows that too x

    • Anna says...

      Hi! I’m from Australia – where are you from? If you’re in Melbourne, would you like to meet for a coffee? Although I am not a single parent, I am an Asian immigrant with two kids and no family support whatsoever in Australia. I believe friends are the family you choose, but it’s hard when your friends aren’t really in the kids stage yet! If you’re interested, email me achamsay@gmail.com :)

  8. I really enjoyed this. I’m a different kind of single mom and really enjoyed hearing someone else’s journey.

  9. Sarah says...

    I just LOVED THIS SO MUCH.

  10. Xo says...

    I’d love to see a story about being a single mom for years and dating and having older kids. I think it’s great that she found someone with her newborn and he wants to adopt this baby! Amazing and lovely. It’s just that I kind of leapt at the story about dating as a single mom and this is about as far from typical of that world of my friends as possible. Hope this encourages others to tell their stories!

  11. Claire says...

    What is really striking in these comments is that the majority of moms who don’t like this post, and are single moms, do not seem to have been single moms by choice, like the author. They state again and again that they have been “single moms since” … since their child was 3, or 6, or what have you. There really is some evidence that women who decide to become mothers on their own rather than those who intended to do so partnered, but then find themselves single after they are pregnant or already have children because of a failed relationship, find the experience easier and more joyful. I think it is a matter of expectations. As a woman currently trying to get pregnant via donor sperm, there is so much soul searching that you have to do beforehand. You have to “mourn the dream” and come out on the other side to a place of joy and excitement, in a way that is very different from women I know who got divorced, dumped, or even widowed. It’s hard no matter what kind of a mom you are, and plenty of married women don’t even get the help they need from their husbands or wives. Women who find themselves to be single mothers of infants happen to find love all the time, no matter how they became single. And of course many don’t. But as more women no longer feel pressured to marry men they don’t really want to be with just in order to have children, there will be more choice moms like this author, and therefore more situations like hers. Kudos to you for publishing this.

    • Sarah says...

      That’s an interesting perspective! I also think there are socio-economic and probably socio-cultural issues at play here, too. Those who choose single motherhood have done the math and know that they can afford to raise their child in the manner that seems best to them – it’s part of their plan. Those moms who have single motherhood thrust upon them have not had that opportunity. They are doing the best they can with what they have. Additionally, society views Black and Latina single mothers very differently than they do white single mothers. It would be interesting to hear the perspectives from single moms of other backgrounds, too; both those who have chosen single motherhood and those who have risen to the occasion.

  12. Great writing! Loved this piece…

  13. Sarah says...

    I’ve been a single mom since my daughter was two. It was a necessary decision, and one that I don’t regret. However, being a single mom is HARD. As a nurse who formerly gloried in taking the most medically challenging patients, I now must choose my job based on its hours and benefits. I’m lucky that I chose a profession that has this option. I choose not to date because I don’t want to bring people in and out of my daughters life. That isn’t intended to disparage a mom who chooses differently – it’s a personal choice.
    While I’m always happy to see a fellow mama finding happiness and navigating her life on her own terms, I find that it does not represent my life as a single mom at all.
    I would love to read a post about a single mom without abundant family support, for whom dating would mean leaving her child in someone’s else’s care (when they have already been in someone else’s care while she worked all day). I would enjoy hearing how other single mamas create their family from friends.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is that this post made me feel more alone.

    • t says...

      Sending hugs. Being a mama in any situation is hard for sure!

    • Sarah says...

      sounds like you’re doing a great job :)

    • Crispin says...

      Hi Sarah

      My kids are grown up now but I was a single mother with them from the time my son was 2 until 10. Their father lived overseas and I had no family support. So I really understand how you feel. During this period, I really didn’t date. My life was consumed with bringing up two kids and making a living. I did have a couple of lovers who made me feel like a woman again (some days I felt like I had mother tattooed on my forehead and that I didn’t remember what being a woman was) but I never introduced them to the kids. Eventually, I meet my now husband and knew immediately it was right. I’m not sure if this story helps, other than when you do meet the right person you’ll know its ok to introduce them to your daughter. And the sacrifice you are making now to ensure your daughter has a great childhood it absolutely and unequivocally worth it. I am so proud of the job I did bringing my kids up and reap the rewards daily with their love.

    • Thank you for writing about single parents in such a positive light. I enjoyed reading this article but, like Sarah, I have also struggled to date as a single mum. I’ve been a single parent since my daughters were 3 and 6, they’re now 18 and 21 and I haven’t had a support network behind me. Combined with the fact that my youngest daughter has some health issues, and not having the budget to pay for babysitters, I’ve found it impossible to combine dating and being a single mum, and 15 years on I think I’ve left it too late to start now. It’s also impacted on friendships, as I’ve only been able to do a limited amount of socialising.
      Being a single parent is difficult at times, and the amount of responsibility can be overwhelming, but there are plus sides too (I get 100% of the love). I like to think that single parenting is a bit like learning to ride a unicycle: harder than riding a two-wheeler, but ultimately very rewarding when you master it.

    • I agree. My son is 10. His father has never been involved, I don’t get child support – ive never been out dating like so many single online because working FT and single parenthood is enough. I don’t see someone as single who started dating and moved in with a partner within months of the birth. Yes, you chose to have a baby alone. But if you start dating and consider yourself a couple you’re no longer single. By the very definition you are not. And, in my experience (not judging), many of the women who are seeking a partner/actively dating have a completely different focus in their life than I do.

    • Jen says...

      I’m a single mother of a 2,3,4 yr old who is trying to build a village. My parents started helping with child care but my mom was diagnosed with a rare cancer. Single motherhood was not a choice but this is my hand. I struggle daily with everything and try to keep a level head but it’s incredibly hard. Harder than I ever realized. It’s hard making connections to anyone, potential mom friends or even a companion as I’m exhausted and my budget is tight. My hope is this will pass when the kids get older. It’s nice to know that there are couples who do form. I worry no one would want a tired lady with three kids! :)

    • Stephanie says...

      Wow, you’re my hero! Thought it was hard with just one kid!

  14. Megan says...

    Thank you so much for this story, Cup of Jo team! I am a single mama via foster-adoption, to a beautiful almost-three-year-old girl. I love being a single mom, and while I pretty much inhale everything Cup of Jo features, it is extra special to see something so familiar to me reflected on your site. Thanks again!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I’m so glad, Megan! You sound like such a loving mom, and almost-three is such a sweet age :)

  15. Jeannie Lorenz says...

    Thank you for this essay. You have the best of both worlds! You know what it is to be in a committed partnership with a co-parent (if I may call your partner that), as well as being a single mom.

  16. Louise says...

    I loved reading this and it was wonderful to know that someone else has experienced the same pangs I have. I am also a single mother by choice. My son is now almost 4 and two years ago I began dating a wonderful man to whom I am now engaged. My son does not yet call my fiance “Daddy” although my fiance loves my son like his own and my son loves him. I have struggled with the idea of this –mostly about what it means to me. Those shared moments with my son of getting through things as “team us” and knowing it was just us against the world; the very idea that I was this strong solo parent by design…..those things were ingrained in how I thought of myself for so long and bringing a “daddy” into the picture officially seemed to threaten those victories for me. I love my fiance and am happier as a family unit and am so glad for another person, but the transition has been a journey. I hope to hear more from you about your journey!

  17. What a beautiful and brave essay. I can’t even begin to imagine the challenges and soul searching involved in the decision to bring someone new into your and your daughter’s lives. But how wonderful for both her and you to be gifted with so much love. The more loving hands raising a child, the better for everyone!

  18. Mara says...

    Megan Watterson uses the term “indie mom” –meaning a single-but-not-really-single mom. Thought I’d share because I think it’s a wider term that encompasses the style, function and reality of modern parenting–an essence perhaps not quite captured by “single mom”.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      love that, mara.

    • bes says...

      what does “single but not really single” mean? Like the author who is the solo parent of a child but in a relationship?

    • Mara says...

      Yeah, that wasn’t totally clear. My interpretation is that rather than modify Mom with a descriptor that ties to relationship status, the term kind of embraces that one may identify as a single mom but actually have a partner or coparent or some other arrangement. Or, maybe you are single but created a community around parenting so that friends or other significant adults are fulfilling a parenting role.

  19. Alice says...

    Fascinating and soulful glimpse into a world very different and also not so different to my own. Alyssa you’re brave and thoughtful and generous, thank you for sharing your story :)

  20. Raeleen Redzuan says...

    Hi Jo. Usually I love your site’s posts and am very happy for this woman/writer/mother. As someone who has been a formerly married then single mum for the last 9 years, I feel her story is very, very atypical of “dating as a single mum” and the title therefore over-generalised, really. The team could have been more considered about the title here.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, i hear you, raeleen. this was one woman’s personal experience, but we’d love to cover more stories from single moms, divorced moms, etc. we have another story coming up, actually! thank you so much for your feedback.

    • mamabird says...

      Agreed. I was looking for some tips. I’m a single mum and widow dating and could use some guidance! Still enjoyed the article though.

  21. Shena says...

    I can see it being hard to give up being a single mom after working so hard through the struggles of those first months, yet persevering. Remembering my exhaustion and lack of time or of romantic interest in my husband during that first year of each new life in our house, I find myself not connecting with the desire to date a new man with a 7-month-old, especially through Tinder (which I admittedly know nothing about except for hearing that is about flings and not so much about finding a trusting-partner). This is probably why the crickets on the Facebook group…along with the difficulty to congratulate what these women on the group are embracing and navigating living without. But on a broader scale, it seems very brave and probably very mentally-healthy (and awesomely-optimistic) to look for a new romantic relationship, despite raising a small child. It also seems a (non-planned) way to find a good guy who isn’t afraid of a strong woman who can make life decisions based on her needs, and not on societies sometimes-oppressive rules. On the other hand, there are so many accidental-duds out there. It seems a risk, possibly not worth it, to possibly let one into the delicate and sacred life-balance of new mom and child. But S. is not a dud, and instead is a wonderful addition to the family. This is a love story of life working out in a non-traditional, pretty perfect way. Thank you for sharing your story with openness. I gather from your writing that you have always trusted yourself through it all, and you know what you are doing and how to get what you need. Your willingness to reach out as a bright and intelligent woman, and your obvious love for life, has steered you, and now your loved ones, to where you all need to be.

  22. Suzieq says...

    Yay for single mom content!!!

  23. Anna says...

    Thank you for posting this! I remember reading her first post back last year (about being a single mum and buying a daybed) and it was one of those lovely stories that really stuck with me and still comes to mind every now and then. I admired her courage to “go it alone” with having a baby …and what a lovely followup! Wishing Alyssa and Hazel and S a happy future!

  24. Tracy says...

    Once again, Joanna, thank you for this site and the breadth of lives you cover – the stories and the readers’ comments. I’m a single mother by choice of a great teenager. I’m interested in Alyssa’s story, the recent story of a person who knows raising children isn’t in sync with who she is, stories of how different marriages work, etc. – the whole spectrum. What might look like a life “choice” to someone else because it isn’t the norm might be the only authentic path a person has to take. That’s what resonates for me in all of these.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      so glad to hear it, tracy. sending love to you and your lovely teen :)

  25. Jill says...

    So beautiful! I became a single mom in 2006, “we” traveled to China to adopt “our” daughter and after a year home, he had an affair and I became a single mom. I remarried when she was 7, 5 years later, and she approved. But I still long for the days of her and I, on our own. It was the best time, and Ill never forget. My daughter is 13 now, and my husband is the only dad she knows, doesn’t really remember my ex. I am grateful for my husband. He accepted that I don’t want more children, just the one girl from China I adopted. He is a loving dad. But I remember those single mom days with freedom and joy and just me an my besti, having “girls night” every night. Watching hello kitty videos on our computer and eating in my giant bed.

    • Frankie says...

      Love this. My ex and I split when my daughter was not even 2. Lucky for he she gets lots of her dad in her life, but she’s with me most of the time and I do treasure this “me & my girl” life of ours. So much that I’m incredibly hesitant to let any of “us” go by committing to another man…. We’ll see what comes.

  26. Beautiful essay. I’m in my mid 30s, single and with no kids, though I very much want children and a partner. Most days the feeling of wanting those things so much breaks my heart and posts about dating and parenting feel foreign at best and painful at worst, but something about this really resonates with me and gives me hope. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Katie says...

      Sending you love, Tracey. Your comment really struck a chord with me. x

    • Em says...

      Tracey, I feel exactly the same as you: 33, single, and no prospects of love or children on the horizon, despite what sometimes feel like herculean efforts. It has been my heart’s deepest wish for as long as I can remember to have children and a partner but unfortunately it’s just not something you can force. Just wanted to say — you’re not alone, I know how you feel, and that your situation is more likely the result of your *GOOD* decisions and not settling for something that in the long run wouldn’t fulfill you. It’s better to be single than in the wrong relationship. As my mum always says to me, in the infamous words of Diana Ross, “You can’t hurry love”. I hope it works out for you! X

    • Katie and Em, thank you for your thoughts and words, they made my day. Sending love and warm thoughts to you both!

    • Nikki B says...

      AGREED! <3

  27. Sara says...

    Alyssa, Thank you so much for sharing your story. As a single woman who wants to one day have a family it is so nice to hear good things come even if they may be a little “out of order”. I often look to this blog for advice of all kinds. Recently, I’ve fallen for a guy who has a daughter. It not something I ever imagined would happen (to be honest for the most part I’ve actively avoided it) but for some reason I’m drawn to this person. I would love to hear more stories and experiences like Alyssa’s.

  28. Amanda says...

    A sweet, beautiful and honest story! Thanks for sharing, and more like this, please! xo

  29. Ooh one of my favorite posts in a long time. Have always loved your writing, Joanna, has been hard for me to fully love the stories from other members of the team (though of course still enjoy!) this one has struck me. More from Alyssa please!!

  30. Hope says...

    Love that you had someone from the glory days of the Glamour blogs! I devoured Alyssa’s column. Glad she’s doing well and happy. :)

  31. M says...

    How about, if you’d be comfortable making him her guardian in your will, he adopts her and is “Dad.” If you’d want to designate someone else in the will, that’s the sign it’s not a daughter-daddy relationship in your heart. Just another thought. xx

  32. Kristen says...

    Enjoy hearing from her and would love to hear more of her voice. It would also be fun to have a beauty/outfit post with Alyssa. Often when I’m having a low day reading about other women living out all kinds of amazing stories encourages me to get back out and do my own beautiful badass life again!

    • Just looked at the author’s name – she has a great book called Apron Anxiety if you want more from her!

  33. emmanuella says...

    Something about her calling him S. instead of Sam or Saul or Saxophone or anything(!) made me feel like she still wasn’t ready to let go of being a “single mom”.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      saxophone, i love it :)

      he is actually super private so that’s why she’s keeping it more anonymous. i asked if we could take a group photo and she was like, hazel and i would love to, but S…. no way. i totally get that (especially since i’m married to more of an introvert).

  34. Denise says...

    This was a fun read. Great attitude. Reminded me of something I’d hear on the Modern Love pod cast (as read about on this blog).

  35. Shade says...

    Wow, what a beautifully written story! I would love to hear more from her. xo

  36. Janel says...

    This essay was captivating and rings true to my deep desires. Thank you for sharing – I would love to hear more!

  37. I really love this piece. While I’m not a parent, it really resonates with me because of Alyssa still wanting to identify as a single parent at times. A couple years ago, I left my teaching job for something different, but I still identify as a teacher and that part of me still exists. Thanks for sharing!

  38. Lee says...

    Perfection. Life is messy and sequential milestone markers and timelines are outmoded and always a dangerous idea. Making commitments to another – or to ourselves – need to come on our own terms and in our own time. Thank you for sharing and reaffirming the value of following your own perfectly imperfect path.

    • Anna says...

      …And sometimes the messiest and most “imperfect” stories are the loveliest and most interesting.

  39. Jenny says...

    Oh, I love that there’s a follow up to her first essay! And I love that we as a community can embrace families like this.

  40. Courtney says...

    This is beautiful! It reminds me of the NYT Modern Love series (both for the thoughtfulness about your relationship with your daughter and with S). Lovely.

  41. Amy says...

    Well-written. Thought provoking. Heart warming. Great job. and thank you.

  42. Ellie says...

    Joanna,

    Despite being a daily blog-reader for years, I have never commented on anyone’s post until today. This piece was beautiful and thought-provoking; I loved it. I am so incredibly impressed by this amazing website you and your team have created that balances light and fun pieces on fashion and interior design (which we all love) with serious, introspective, unique features on life, career, and relationships like this one. These articles bring together readers of all ages and make us THINK; what a wonderful daily gift. I am so excited to see what else you and the Cup of Jo team continue to create.

    A big heartful thank you,
    Ellie

    • jess says...

      Yes, Ellie. I feel exactly the same way about Cup of Jo and the community that it brings together.

  43. What a thoughtful and beautifully written piece. I love that you are showcasing alternative routes to motherhood, too. I wish hazel and mum the very best on this great adventure.

  44. Loved this post, life can change so much in an instant.. Enjoy it while you can!

  45. AJ says...

    Really good read, thanks so much for sharing. As somebody who has (unintentionally and with much confusion and sadness and fear!) found myself creeping towards 40s without having managed to find a lasting relationship and start a family, it’s so refreshing to read about women who chose to have a baby alone, where the focus of the article isn’t all about what society ‘thinks’ about that decision, etc. There’s so much more to talk about too! And so much more to the journey. Really enjoyed reading this. It’s given me a warm glow!

  46. t says...

    Embrace happiness and everything feeling right. Life is short. Good job mama.

    • Kimberley says...

      I really love this advice, T. I remind myself of it regularly when something feels off. xo

  47. Carrie says...

    Enjoyed this essay. I would also enjoy reading one from his perspective!

  48. Hadley says...

    Really really enjoyed this.

  49. Anna says...

    Ah! I read Apron Anxiety a couple of months ago and I loved Alyssa’s honesty and strength, and really wanted to know what happened after the book ended! And now I just read this. You are so brave and brilliant Alyssa – feeling so moved right now and so happy for you. Keep telling your story to us, it’s an honour to read your words.

  50. Anita says...

    Thanks for this post on dating while a single mom. Dating with kids is complicated (i am in that boat right now). The bottom line is that as parents we do need to seek out sources of support for ourselves (which may or may not come through dating). Acknowledging and accepting that we need help does not have to undermine our independence, and we should never turn away from meaningful relationships for the reason that they clash with a preconceived notion of our plan for ourselves or our identity. I think you are definitely doing the right thing. You are taking life as it comes.

  51. Susan says...

    I loved reading this! Thank you!

  52. Laura says...

    This is beautiful, and I’m glad to see alternative paths to motherhood shared here. I considered being a single mother by choice pretty seriously before I happened to meet my current boyfriend, who, it turns out, is sterile. i guess i’ve got all the luck!
    So maybe I’ll find myself in a similar situation – where I do it on my own, and he’ll be… well, I’m not sure what he’ll be i guess! i love how it is now, with just the two of us, and i’m afraid of screwing everything up between us by pursuing motherhood through a donor, but i’m afraid of regretting not trying… i feel like it’s all so messy and i haven’t even gotten to the parenting part yet! i guess i need a little faith that it’ll be ok somehow. if anyone has any kind words for me, i’m all ears. :)

    • Sandra says...

      Yes, It will all be OK! Love and parenting are messy even under the most typical of circumstances. Maybe you just need a little more time to “live into the answer,” as they say.

    • Agnes says...

      Laura, I had always planned on and thought I’d be a mother, but didn’t meet my current boyfriend til I was 44, almost a year ago. He’s the first person I wanted to have kids with (I definitely don’t feel up for going it alone). Until he told me he didn’t want any more kids (he has 2 grown up kids already). I still don’t know what I’m doing. I feel so confused and it doesn’t seem to be making any more sense as time goes by. Sure people will say I’m too old anyway but women on both sides of my family have had babies in their 40’s and I’ve never had any health issues soo… I’m still hoping. For what, I’m not sure. Maybe that he’ll change his mind? I don’t want to leave him, I’ve waited so long to meet someone like him, and we are truly right for each other. I have no idea what will happen but I know he’s been put in my life for me to love and I’m going with that, and what happens, happens. I hope that you both find your way!! Does he want kids? Would he be happy with a donor? Would you adopt or foster? There are many options if he DOES want kids with you.. :)

    • Lilly says...

      It’ll be ok! We’ve all got to figure out this path thing. (Mine’s looking a lot more conventional than I thought it would ever be but it feels so right, so go figure! I thought I’d be a totally different person at this 10-years-out-of-high-school mark.)
      Nothing really to say, tbh, just throwing in a few kind words – that sounds tough, but also like you’re being really self-aware and have a good handle on sorting out what you want, now and in the future!

    • C says...

      Once at a major crossroads in my life, my mother told me, “there’s always going to be this second version of you, living the path you didn’t choose, following alongside you like a shadow. But the only reason you can see your shadow is because you are in the path of light. Live in the light that you choose and pay your shadow no mind.” It had helped me not necessarily to make decisions, but to find contentment with the decisions I have made.

    • Chloe says...

      Here come some kind words your way :-). I don’t know for how long you’ve been dating your current boyfriend but if it’s kind of serious, maybe you should address the issue and talk about the future with him. Xxx

    • Bec B says...

      Just because you asked but in my experience if you have an inkling you want to be a Mum don’t put on hold trying to appease someone else. If this means donor, fostering, adoption or even another relationship follow that feeling in the pit of your tummy! I waited in a relationship that wasn’t going anywhere and as soon as I left I found relationships can be so much easier and ‘big life decisions’ can happen more ‘naturally’ (by which I mean without drawn out tedious discussions about ‘the right time’). I love having my daughter!
      Good luck with your decisions :)

    • Midge says...

      It WILL be okay somehow! The moral of this story is to do what feels right. Whatever you choose will be the right thing, because you chose it.

    • dana says...

      @C. Your mom must be a very wise woman. I wrote down that quote to try to remember it for the future.

    • t says...

      Laura is he sterile and doesn’t want kids or is he sterile and wants kids? If he wants kids with you and vise versa even with a sperm donor he would be the father? You wouldn’t be doing it on your own in that situation.

  53. Anna says...

    Loved this essay. I wish all three of you great happiness.

  54. Sandra says...

    This was a really great essay. As someone who was single in my mid-30s and really wanted to be a parent (but 100% could not have afforded single parenthood even if I raised a child in my tiny studio apt) it is really interesting to get a glimpse into the life of someone who did take that path.

    I finally did meet someone, fall in love, and get married and have a baby at 42. It is so fascinating to think of dating during those early months of parenthood. New parenthood is SO hard, and it is interesting to think about what it would be like to meet someone and fall in love during that time.

    • Jessica says...

      Reading this made me so happy. Feeling like I’m running out of time is one of the saddest things I can imagine for myself, but knowing that it works out for others gives me hope.

    • Karen says...

      Jessica – my (now) husband and I met/moved in together/engaged/first baby born/walking down the aisle with second baby in the belly all under two years. When it’s right, it’s right – and it can be right fast!

    • Elizabeth says...

      I met someone and had a surprise pregnancy and baby at 44! So it can happen….

  55. Cara says...

    What a wonderful read. Besides the fact that her writing is so captivating, this story is so sweet and lovely and relate-able, even for us non-mothers. I’m happy that she found such a wonderful man.

  56. Lamah says...

    I have to be a bit critical. My father died when I was 6. It was devastating. I honestly can’t imagine your child being attached to the person she thinks is her father, and then your relationship with your partner complicates and you guys break up and she looses her “father”, which is one of the worst feelings in the world (that you never really recover from). I think you and him should consider that he adopts her formally. This way if you and him break up for whatever reason, she will still have her father. If you or him are unsure about this move, please end this now. Please please don’t put your child in a situation where she loses her father. I am sorry to be blunt, it’s just losing a parent is devastating as a child, and if it can be prevented, then I think it should be. Lots of love to you and your family.

    • Elizabeth says...

      I agree with Lamah. I had a slightly different concern. No one ever likes to think about it but what if something happens to Alyssa. Hazel’s “father” has no rights.

  57. Lisa says...

    I’m about to pursue single motherhood (by choice!) myself and I really appreciated this essay. I get the sense that my friends and even many SMCs see it as giving up on ever getting married or finding a long-term relationship. And while I’ve certainly done a bit of grieving about the order of things and I’m realistic about how all-consuming early parenthood will be, I don’t believe I have reached the end of the road on finding that special person. I still very much see myself as someone meant to be in a long-term committed relationship – just as much as I see myself as someone meant to be a mom. It’s just that biology is telling me one must happen before the other.
    Yes, you are a single mom and should be proud of that journey. But you are also right to welcome all the love into your life that is available to you.

    • Kelly says...

      I’m in the same boat – long term partner didn’t want more kids (he has a 13 year old) and I compromised desire for years to be with him, and when I turned 40 I was like screw this, it’s now or never to have a child. Of course dating with a biological clock deadline meant settling and going out with guys I’d never normally be into just because their online dating profile said they wanted a family.

      After much agony I’ve decided to be a SMC at age 42 – it’s scary AF but the way I see it, yes the next few years will be tough but once the kid is 3 or 4 maybe I can go back out there and try to meet a “soulmate” without the biological pressure and urgency. I mean, online you see tons of guys in their 40s with kids who are out there looking for a partner, so I’m hoping that having a child won’t limit my chances when I eventually get back out there. I decided fear and desperation can’t rule my life and to try to be hopeful about the future, fingers crossed.

    • Meredith Leigh says...

      Currently 19 weeks pregnant with my donor baby I’m planning to raise alone. I feel so much peace that I am finally, FINALLY going to have this thing that I’ve wanted for so long and people have been overwhelmingly supportive. I’d love to find a partner someday, but I can control being a mother now. I also feel the release of so much of the time pressure of finding someone—if I meet a great guy when I’m 50, that’ll be fine because I got to have my baby!

  58. Anela says...

    What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing.

  59. I love the thoughtfulness and ultimate hopefulness of this piece. Thank you for sharing your story, Alyssa! As a woman in my late 20s, I’ve long thought about motherhood and potentially becoming a single mother by choice, thanks to the empowering example of a college mentor. I’ve known (how DOES one know such things?) that I want to be a mother one day; I’ve not had this same knowing about being a wife. What your story made me realize is that the path of single mother by choice does not necessarily rule out finding/enjoying a partner in the future.

  60. Libbynan says...

    Parenting is just hard. There is no one way or right way to do it. “Feeling right or good” is a good test. I can remember doing something my mom or M-I-L said to do and just knowing that it was wrong for me. I didn’t do everything right….no one does. But my children are now happy, productive adults that I am proud to say are mine. And I did it all by the seat of my pants while not having a clue. Even with a partner, we are all single parents trying to figure out how to do this.

  61. Ashley says...

    This essay gave my i’ll-be-single-forever heart so much hope. Thank you.

    • jade says...

      It gave my I’ll-be-single forever heart hope too!

    • Regina says...

      Me too!!

  62. Nicole says...

    From this, “the hilarious and life-affirming things babies do can be so heart-warming and surreal…” to “it’s not a single mom or working mom or married mom thing — parenting can sometimes feel impossible.”

    This just perfectly captures the contradictions in parenthood (and life!), regardless of what path any of us took to get there. What a beautifully written piece.

  63. Karina says...

    This was so important and so poignant. Thank you for sharing.

  64. Christine says...

    Oh this post is wonderful. The identity shift of becoming a mom, a working mom, a mom who is also a wife, and a daughter who is now a mom is like being cracked open like an egg. Everything is different and all of your love is exposed. It is tremendous and terrifying and oh so unique. Thank you for this beautiful perspective.

    • Elle says...

      ^ So well said. I’m so feeling this right now as I nurse my 2 week old first born. I’m an egg, cracked wide open.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “I’m an egg cracked wide open.” Oh, Elle, I remember that feeling! Sending you the biggest hug. You’re doing a great job. We’re rooting for you, and thinking of you. xoxoxo

    • Midge says...

      To Elle: someday you will drink a glass of wine on the couch while happily watching your child play. It will happen so much sooner than you can possibly believe right now. My sister told me that when I had a newborn and it got me through some rough moments. And then: it came true!

    • Sonja says...

      Wow, Christine! “Cracked open like an egg,” is so beautiful. And I couldn’t agree more. The contents were always there but you feel like one thing and then it all comes spilling out and all of the sudden you’re the very same and entirely different.

  65. Liz says...

    LOVED reading this, would love to hear more from her!

  66. Maclean Nash says...

    Thank you so much for sharing. As long as the feeling of “rightness” stays, you do you!

  67. Lucy Kalanithi says...

    Love. xoxo to you, Alyssa!! Go Team Kinda-Single Mom. :)

  68. Sarah N. says...

    This is such a lovely essay — I think even parents with partners see how our meticulous plans for what life with a baby will be like are constantly readjusting to the ways that life just comes at you in ways you least expect. Thanks for sharing something vulnerable that I’m sure elicits too much judgment one way or another. She sounds like a wonderful mom!

    And the description of being weighed down by SO MUCH STUFF is all too real. Do you know the book Meet the Parents? There’s a hilarious image of a mom slowly carrying more and more of her kid’s detritus (mom is a donkey!). It’s around 1:50 in this video reading of the book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uma2JRlxF1g

  69. Beautiful story! And a touching message of how powerful and true happiness is when it comes from within us.

  70. Cynthia says...

    You are brave to choose single motherhood.

    • Lily says...

      Yes very brave. Wishing you all the happiness.

  71. Take your happiness and run with it. Regardless of how many “likes” on Facebook or how many comments you may get here. Happiness is fleeting, for all of us, and you’ve found yourself in a safe and happy place for you and for your daughter filled with love and the willingness to take a leap of faith. Wonderful.

    • Lori says...

      Dang. You hit the nail on the head. Perfect.

    • Hita says...

      co-sign! Let the joy pour in to your lives.

  72. Melisa says...

    Can’t even articulate how much this resonates with me. Beautiful essay.