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Changing from Married to Single Parenthood

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > All Kinds of Families > Changing from Married to Single Parenthood



Considering single parenting and school

Nov 2008

I do not love and never have,the father of my child but we are living together (unmarried). We both hardly make any money but I've managed to work things out so I can be SAHM with my son for the 1st 20 months of his life. Father has lost 4 jobs in the last 12 months. He has a little bit of savings, so he still contributes 50%. But we have a terrible relationship and things have gotten worse between us. There is a lot of mutual resentment and defenses. I just don't even really like/respect him anymore. I don't want to live like this, nor do I want to expose my child to this as a model.I do not have any family nearby, nor a lot of support. I have been planning to go to school in 2009 so I can make a career change and be able to support my son on my own (now, I am pretty much at poverty-level income-wise). This will involve about 3 years and I don't think I can manage it w/o his help. As is I will be living on student loans to pay for my share.I don't think I can handle all of it on my own. He is low-skilled, an underachiever, and not good at earning $, so i doubt I will be able to get fair child-support out of him to help me with the additional costs. He doesn't have a car, so I don't think he won't be able to help as easily with childcare. But I am so tired of him. I don't know what to do. I can't decide what's more important...getting myself financially secure through schooling or being is a bad relationship for 3 more year and having my son grow up in this atmosphere. (Note: there is no physical abuse) My son has good relationships with both of us, and has not exhibited any emotional problems or unusual stress, but he does get fussy at times when we talk to eachother. (I can't tell if it's b/c he is afraid we will argue or if he just wants undivided attention b/c he will do this w/friend )I am seeing a counselor, he just started seeing a counselor. We did counseling in the past for a few months w/ not much improvement.One of my parents thinks I should stick it out while I go through school, the other doesn't. I would love to hear experiences from others who have been in my shoes. What did you priortize? Did you have creative alternatives that worked for you? If you stayed, do you hate it? If you left, did life improve? Thank you. needing encouragement/advice


In your posting it sounds very clear that you do not care enough for your child's father to remain in a relationship with him; I would say that you need to get out of the relationship and start moving on with your life. Consult with a lawyer -- just because you weren't married doesn't mean that he doesn't have to pay child support, and if he is reluctant to do show it is possible that his wages could be garnished. But do get legal advice and don't hang around in the relationship for financial reasons or reasons related to security. You can do better elsewhere. happily unmarried
Sorry to hear about your situation but unfortunately men pretty much tell us what they're about before we decide to make a life time decision with them, e.g, make a baby with them. You made this decision and now you have to live with the consequences. My ex husband was an alcoholic, drunk, womanizing jerk who gave me all the red flags before I ''stupidly'' decided to make a baby with him to maybe ''change'' him. Well, it didn't happen, and I ended up having to be a single mom which is very, very difficult but I pulled it off. You are at a point of a crossroads and you are going to have to decide what you want to do that in turn will affect the life of your son and your potential soon-to-be ex. You'll manage. Jump and the net will follow. Good luck. anon
I have lived in a relationship with the low-achiever type with little love/respect, and let me tell you, it is better to get away from an unhappy situation even though it may be very challenging. I was a single mom for 4 years, and my son's father couldn't muster up any money to pay child support so he fled the state and I haven't heard from him since. Even though we were dirt poor, we were so happy, and healthy mentally and emotionally. I decided to go to school when my son was 3. I have one year to go and was living on welfare and financial aid for most of it. It's very difficult, but I can almost see the end of the struggles and am so proud to dig us out of poverty. I would work and be in school but my program is so intensive and the class times are not flexible, and childcare is so expensive that it's not worth it for me to work. Good luck!!! It is so gratifying to go through school and make a good life for your child. But until that time comes, it may be best to get in a emotionally/mentally healthy atmosphere. anon
First I want to say, good for you for being detirmined to go to school and make your life better. I have a couple of friends who are in the same situation as you are, and it is a tough one. I know a single mom who just moved in with another single mom. They support each other, share childcare, and there is no drama in the house! They found each other on Craigslist, but you could find a situation like this on BPN too I bet!
I've been a single mom for the past 5 years, since my daughter was three years old. Basically, you need to find a full-time job with benifits and day care for your son. Go to school in a couple of years, when your child is older and you have established some financial stability. I went to some single parent support meetings at the beginning, and the biggest problem of the moms was financial, and the resulting stress. Being poor and stressed out because of it will be harmful to your child; he will be fine in daycare. -- happy and stress-free single mom
I am a very happy single mom who was once in a similar position as you. Unlike you, however, my husband simply walked out on us. This left me with no choice but to struggle on my own and go back to school - No help or decent child support from him. I lived on student loans and the support of my family. I am now financially stable, independent, and very happy to be in a peaceful little home with just my daughter and myself. There is no fighting or drama in my life.

Your problem? You have a choice. Given the burden of choice, you are struggling. You could decide that it's something you have to do for the sake of your peace and sanity. That's sort of like not having a choice, I suppose. However, you seem to want ''permission'' to leave your husband and go off on your own. I'm afraid that no one will be able to give you that permission except yourself. Good luck. anon


It sounds as if you're boxed in and unable to escape due to mental paralysis.

Have you thought about making a completely fresh start and re-examining your priorities?

First, it doesn't sound as if staying home for 20 months was the best thing for your baby, for your relationship, or for you. I don't have any co-workers who stayed home more than 6 months, and their children and relationships are all thriving.

Second, if you've read the book, ''Millionaire Next Door'', you know that many peoople without a college education make more money than people with a college education. Are you sure that there is actually a financial reason that you want to go to college right now instead of getting a job? Do you really prefer digging your family deeper and deeper into debt? I actually feel sorry for your husband after reading your self-centered letter.

Third, have you ever thought that maybe your husband would like to be the stay-at-home parent while you go out to work for awhile? He could even start a home-based daycare business to make some extra money.

The economy is actually worse than it appears right now, so now is not the time to get deeper into debt while hoping for a job that might not exist by the time you get your degree. Now is the time for common sense and hard work and doing what's best for your family. Common Sense


Hi there! Drop me an email, we should talk. I lived in a very similar situation while going to school and it's now been one year living on my own with son. I would be happy to connect with you and share my story and it would be great for me to hear yours as well. Nicole

Suddenly single with 3 girls under 4

Dec 2007

Husband of 15 years has decided to ''move on'' (translation: he wants to explore other women...not that he hasn't been already, it's just that I only recently discovered it).

So, here I am, a single mother to 3 baby girls under the age of 4. My family does not yet know any of this and my friends who do know have been supportive, but my friends with kids all have teenagers and have memories like how theirs were potty trained at 6 months and having complete dialogue with adults at 18 months...sigh.

I left a great career to stay home with the babies and thought that was a great idea until this bombshell. Now I find myself needing to look for a job after having been out of the corporate sector for 3+ years along with caring for and nurturing my girls.

On the good days, the dishes might actually get done. On a great day, the laundry gets folded too!! There are some really not so great days though and it is all I can do to not fall apart in front of them. I just started looking for a preschool of sorts for my oldest one, as I feel like she is being short- changed being here with me and her little sisters.

I guess I am just wondering if there are any other single parents who actually made it through raising babies so young and so close in age with NO help (recently moved here so friends and family are too far away). Having to PT 2 of them at the same time is no joke! Oldest has backslid and 23 month is just starting to take an interest.

PLEASE share your survival tips. I just want the best for them and try so hard to not show any of the hurt I am feeling, but most days I wonder if I am doing a good job just holding it together. Pen pals welcomed (for advice and e-friendship)!! Just trying to do my best...


Okay---this is perhaps an extreme suggestion, but if you don't have a job and are looking for one anyways, why not move back to be closer to your family? It makes all the difference in the world and the thought of all you are facing and in a new place seems overwhelming. Sometimes you just have to cut your losses and do what it takes. Even if you did find a wonderful and very high paying job, you'd still be facing the cost of childcare for 3 kids under 4 at Bay Area prices. There's No Place Like Home
I feel for you! I was raised by a single mother of three. She was off and on welfare, but that doesnt really work anymore because welfare for a family of four is something like $750 a month plus Foodstamps. I think children need thier parents in their early years. Many studies indicate a child's first three years make a huge inpact on who the person is in their life. I would start now with preschool for the 4yo, with maybe three half-days, and then work up to more time. My baby is only one, but I am looking into this awesome preschool by my house because she is super social and I plan to start 2 half days then 3 half days. I had started by going to ''babytime'' at the library where the parents are also present, so I knwo she would love preschool. So even young children can go to preschool/nursery school, you just need to shop around for the right one.

Suggestions: Think about movig back to where you friends adn family live. Maybe your X would want you close so he can see his kids, but he was the selfish one in the first place. I have a single mother still and moved in with her. Even though she is older and cant watch Ramona alot, it is so helpful, she is a part-time co-parent. Maybe someone in your family is willing to move in with you? We also moved to Petaluma, which is a very wonderful place to raise children, is less expensive, and has an awesome mother's club.

Also, you migth have to suck in your pride, but CalWorks, the welfare program, will help you get retrained for the work force. You may qualifiy for some money that wont be enought to live on, but the major helpful thing they do is pay for things like CHILDCARE. Even after you get a job and are doing fine, they will help with childcare costs for 2 years and it can be the childcare of you choosing. They will also pursue the dad to pay up, so that stress will be off of you. I spent my first year of motherhood finishing grad school (part-time). It is hard, but I only had to go to class twice a week for 3 hours and I had flexibility of when to study. you can get financial aid. I personally think school is easier than ft work when children are small, and you are investing in the future.

You need people around you for support. Maybe look for single parent support groups. My mother, when I was 2, helped start a cooperative house. We lived with three other single mothers, and had two mothers that didnt live in the house that were involved. They would all have one day a week that they would watch the kids from 9am to 2pm and every other weekday they had free. write me if you want to talk more. Hang in there! Soni


I had the exact same thing happen to me but my kids were slightly older and I only had two. My heart goes out to you in this moment of crisis. It will get better. The first year is the toughest, but being a single mom is not as dire as the media describes it if you've got a good job and good child support.

1) Get a good lawyer. Ask friends for referrals.

2) Call everyone you've ever worked with and find out about the job market. I hadn't had paid work in five years when my crisis hit and the first job I got was terribly underpaid and 35 miles from home. Within a year I had a job at double the pay a mile and a half from home.

3) Tell your family. They may surprise you in their offers of support, particularly money.

4) Start looking for a nanny. With girls that little, you'll really need a good one.

If you need supportive friends, I volunteer to try out for the role. My sympathy for you could not be more whole hearted. I just got freed up from children and I've got some time to spare. My oldest just graduated from Berkeley and my daughter, who gave me the most trouble, is a freshman at CCA. I want to offer you hope for the future. Danelle


Sweetie, if your girls are still babies, you don't have to go back to work yet - your ex has to pay alimony till the littlest one is in kindergarten, at least.

I'm not saying this as a ''screw him!'' thing -- but in a case like this, when he is making the decision to leave and you have been staying home with the kids, and he KNEW that, and acted this way anyway -- honey, YOU are the woman alimony and child support were invented for. His responsibilities don't end when the marriage does!


I have been raising my two kids alone for many years. It is a tough job, no doubt about it. I have so many thoughts for you that it might be best to send you a note directly. Please feel free to write me and I will get in touch with you asap. gretchen
It sounds like you are actually doing a great job coping with an impossible situation. I have only one very active child, but with no financial help (and I hope you will have some!) it's incredibly difficult. Preschool for your oldest will help save your sanity and will be so good for her too, after the initial transition. Any kind of babysitting or daycare that you can arrange will buy you time to think, collapse, rest, job search or interview, go to therapy, take a walk, WHATEVER you most need to do to restore yourself. It won't be enough, and the laundry never gets done. But on a good week, there is food in the kitchen and we are ready for the school/work week on Sunday night. I hope you hear from many of us who are doing it alone. However difficult, it's better than staying in a dead marriage. we are out here with you!
I'm a singel parent of an almost 4 year old girl. The biggest piece of advice I can give is get a support system going. I live in El Cerrito/Richmond Annex. I'm happy to set up an e- mail friendship, also available for playdates, grown up conversation, and laundry folding (I'll even bring a casserole ;- ). Melissa
Firstly, I am soooooo sorry! You have a full plate and there is nothing I can say to you to make it easier. If you are going to go solo HERE without many friends or family you will have to make some serious changes in what is reasonable to expect of your self. Set up a pre-school for your oldest. Hire someone to come clean your house and do laundry once in a while. After 15 years of marriage you are entitled to 7.5 years of spousal support. ASK for it! Ask for a lot of child support. Full time childcare for children under two is about $800 a month PER child. Pre-school full time is equally pricey. Then there is a place to live, food, clothes etc. It may inspire your husband to participate in the burden of child care even if it interferes with his love life? work on a reply to your family-I'm sure it was different when you were raising kids but right now I am COMPLETELY overwhelmed with the tragedy of this no good man walking out on me. so please, please cut me a little slack and when I'm on an even keel I may be able to be a better mom. don't sell yourself short getting a job, grieve, mourn whatever its called for at least a month or two....then start getting your resume in order. The traditions you make with your children will be yours. Don't shy away from the unconventional if thats what works now. Cereal for dinner won't harm them, really! Moving back towards family could help but only if the reality is that they WOULD help. Good luck! been there, done that
First, I really feel for you. My husband asked for a divorce when my youngest was two AND I had just taken a much lower paying job so that I would have more time to be with the kids. It has now been 5 years or so and thanks to fairly good communication most of the time with the ex, the children are doing well.

I would make out a couple trial budgets. How much would you need to return to work and have enough to pay for preschool and/or a caregiver? We had a wonderful caregiver for years and with three little ones, that might be the most cost effective way to go. Some of my mom friends have cobbled together part time jobs they can do mostly from home (travel advising/sales, accounting, organizing, etc.). That cuts cost on nice work clothes and child care and you get to be with your girls! If you go the preschool route, we were very happy with the one at the JCC (Jewish Community Center) at Rose and Walnut (you don't need to be Jewish to go).

Network with your friends on childcare and job leads. Maybe you could job share with someone. Be confident that you are resourceful and something will work out for you. I know many of us out in the BPN community will be rooting for you! single Berkeley mom


Dear Calling: So sorry you're going through all this. I can't imagine how hard it must be to get through the day sometimes. I haven't been through it as a mom, but I am one of 3 (now adult) children very close in age raised by a single mom. My mom always says she made it through by getting help from family and friends. You simply can't go through this tough time alone! I can't tell how attached you are to this area or what kind of relationship you want with your ex -- but a lot of folks find it easier in tough times to be where their family is located. See how your family & friends respond once you go public, and consider options. Most likely they will be outraged at his behavior and ask you to come home. For us, being essentially ''abandoned'' by one parent left some scars, but also built a strong sense of loyalty and ''we're in this together'' bond. It also ''grew'' our family -- in addition to mom, we had very close relationships with grandma, friends & aunts. We became independent, responsible kids earlier than most, and we're now all well educated and leading happy healthy lives, like millions of others raised by strong women. I'm sure others will post with names of support groups and great advice; just hoping to give you a little reassurance from a different perspective.

p.s. I hear ya about the friends w/now older kids. What happens to our memory?? Find some friends, or at least a mom's group, w/kids closer in age to yours. Much sympahy


Although my situation was much easier than yours, separated then divorced with one 2.5 year old who was already in preschool and I was already working full time, it wouldn't have been so easy without my great family close by and my great boss who had also recently been divorced. I think stability, routine and new family traditions were vital to my and my daughter's sanity.

Is there any chance you could move closer to your family? If not, do you have close friends who could be your ''team,'' at least during your transition back to work? It also helped that my ex-husband and I continued to get along and was close by and would drop everything to come to help if our daughter was, for example, throwing up in the middle of the night. It sounds nuts, but I would also save household projects for him to come over to do, and he would, but now I can do them myself. -- good luck


Any chance you can move back where you have support? I am a single mom- on my own since my 2 girls were 2 years and 6 weeks of age. I only survived this because I have a very flexable job that pays well and with the help of my chosen family (friends). My blood family is on the east coast.

People asked me all the time how I did it and the truth is I focused on the short term- first- make it through breakfast, great! now make it to lunch time, etc. My other goals had to be put to the back burner for a few years.

Make the best decisions for what you need- if you are not working yet maybe a move is not a bad idea making it through the day


Hi, I've done some version what you're doing. Raised one child from 6 by myself, no family, no assets, etc. Of course it will be done and can be done, but realize that this is just deep and huge. I would think you need 1. legal support NOW, 2. emotional support - counseling, 3. a network of friends - just to start. I would seriously consider moving back to be near family for at least the next decade. Even one of those 3 babies is a full time job, you'd need a grandma or live-in nanny. The concerns about getting new work, how to phrase the resume, are secondary. That is totally workable. It's the more basic support that you need to have in place so that you can work reliably.

This kind of bombshell takes at least a year, at least, to adjust to - even if you had no kids. Then there will be ongoing new challenges even if he behaves responsibly (unlikely). There will be financial issues. There may well be new emotional issues that come up - him integrating a new girlfriend into your kids' lives, for example maybe. Definitely your kids will go through a difficult adjustment. They know inside you're hurt no matter how good a show you put on and they'll have their own new issues, you need help for them and you.

I don't mean to sound negative and I'm sorry whenever I hear about this kind of assault - that's what it is. I'm just saying, prepare for a long haul the best you can and take care of yourself financially and emotionally the very best you can, even if it means moving. Get everything you can from him in court because the max will fall far short. Remember what he has shown he is and be aggressive on your own and your kids' behalf. Shamelessly borrow if you have to, to get the legal help.

I loved the Bay area and did not move to be near family though I was floundering. Now I'd say it was maybe six of one, half a dozen of the other. Good luck. -been there


You asked for survival tips and I really hope you mean survival tips for your daughters as well as yourself.

First - Your 4 year old should be in preschool. She is not a baby as you claim, she's a preschooler. You are making her spend her time with someone 1/2 her age and then expecting that she's not going to act like someone 1/2 her age. Unfair! Also, I hope you do not refer to her as a ''baby girl.'' It allows her no room to work toward becoming a kindergartener, which she will be next fall, or at the latest the fall after that.

Second - A nearly 2 year old is not quite a baby either. You will probably want to transition her to a preschool situation as well. Toddlers love other kids their age; it's how they learn to navigate the world.

Please allow you children to have lives outside of yours. Its how they build a support system they can count on when you are not able to provide what they need. As a single mom, oh hell, even as a married mom, you cannot provide everything they need. Get on a schedule and stick to it. Allow your kids to help. A 2 year old can fold wash cloths. A 4 year old can sort laundry. This can be fun or a drag, it's your choice, please choose wisely. I am speaking from the perspective of a single mom of a daughter who was doing these things from age 2 on, as well as a daughter with a sister of a divorced mother.

And, yes, there are many children who at 18 months have on-going dialogs if they were spoken to and respected as individuals rather than babies. You also need to think about getting a job. This is for your financial survival as well as a perspective on how people think, cope and work with what they have. It will also help your daughters see women and girls as strong and capable.

This is probably not the kind of support you may have been hoping to hear, but it will help you with your self-esteem, the self-esteem of your daughters and your life plan going forward. Been there, still there and doing that


1. Get enough child support to hire a nanny so you can return to your career.

2. Allow your ex-husband to have custody of the kids. This will give him the opportunity to learn how to PT three kids at once.

3. Start a day-care business so that you can stay home with the kids and earn extra money.

4. Ask your attorney and friends to brainstorm for more ideas. Plan B


I'm not a true single parent, but since my husband is gone 5+ days per week for work, I am a de facto single parent. It's hard, but you will make it. You can't, absolutely can't do it alone. You need to assemble a team-a support network. I have learned that you can find a way for many people to be helpful. It's normal to feel worried about a request being rejected, but you can't control how much people like you, only how much they hate you. Look for single parenting books at the library. They have helped me become super organized, which really helps. There are resources to help you eat very cheaply, cook ahead to make it through the week, get the financial end straightend out. Get the little ones in childcare, because you need to work. Wake up earlier and stay up later. Keep yourself in the best health you can and prioritize personal care, sleeping, alone time (even 1 hr/week) or you won't be able to hold it together. It seems overwhelming because it is.

No one should have to do what you have to do. But many many women have, so you will too. tamtar


Becoming single with 2 children

May 2007

It's looking very likely that the best thing for my husband and I now is for us to separate. We have had a long and complicated relationship and we are just not weathering having two small kids together well. We are seeing a therapist together but honestly I'm not very hopeful, since we've been fighting about the same things since long before ever having kids. Each time I conclude that it would be better for the kids to have us live apart than have to be around so much fighting, but what holds me back is being absolutely terrified of being single in the bay area. I'm a SAHM, have no income, no savings, have a 2 and 5 yr old, very little support, etxended family all thousands of miles away. We can barely afford our rent now without paying for two homes. I have a lot more support and potential for income in Europe but I can't move my kids so far away from their dad, and he can't leave his job. It's a real mess.

I'm wondering how other women deal with a situation like this? Do I stay in an unhealthy situation simply because I can't cope on my own? scared of the next step


If you can't stop arguing in front of the kids I recommend you separate. Since you're a SAHM it would be best if your husband found aother place to live, maybe share a place with another guy somewhere. Go to the family court and sign up for the free legal advise. Bring your kids if you need to, there are lots of other women there with kids. The advisor will help you fill out and file the forms for temporary child and spousal support. It takes a few weeks so try to plan ahead - maybe do it as soon as the monthly bills have been paid and make sure you have some emergency cash. As a SAHM you'll have some time to get back into the work force - you may even get assistance in retraining. Your husband will have to pay 1/2 of all child care if you are training for a job or working. I would try to find a share rental situation with another single mom - you may be able to help with each other's kids. The best thing would be to peacefully cohabitate with your husband, but if that isn't possible get out. I recommend a book by Shiela Ellis called 'The courage to be a single mother' - she lived in a studio apartment with four kids when she was getting divorced and somehow made it work. Good luck! BTW, I'm going through the same thing right now but a few months farther along than you - it's hard but the happiness of my kids is worth it. anon
I was single (divorced) for 10 years with kids 2 and 5 when I started being single. I managed just fine, and I'm sure you will too. You are right about a ''stressful'' situation staying together when there are problems. I think it was better for me to have gotten divorced also. This is what I think about your situaion: If you have more chance for income and childcare suppoprt in Europe, then move there with the kids. Your husband will just have to deal with it. Sounds like you are a ''giver'' from the posting. You are worried about 2 houses, having your husband see the kids, finances etc. Time to be selfish and look at your own happiness and your kids' well-being! Hope this helps! Feel free to email me if you want more communication about this. b
Honestly, from one who has been doing it for a long time, you have to make something add up on paper before you just jump out there. I had no family nearby, a legal obligation to stay in CA (I could have fought that more but decided not to), minimal salary, rented not owned my home in an impossible market, and I personally could not do the corporate thing leaving a kid for a long workday. I don't know how any single parent without family does that with sick days, school holidays, summers, Christmas, spring and even winter breaks, not to mention field trips, plays, etc.

I simply could not make the break before school age, so during that time I tried my best with the marriage, went to counseling, went to bed each night in a fantasy pretending I had things just the way I wanted them, I planned the divorce papers with an attorney, I planned a picture that could work. In my case, that meant starting a totally unimaginative business, frustrating for me because no creativity is involved but lucrative enough to pretty much support us. I did all the school and home stuff, worked the candle at both ends, had moral and sometimes financial support from friends, endured rent raises and unethical landlord issues while my friends bought their rental and vacation homes, as a result felt like a loser compared to them (some single parents move a lot and it would have been cheaper, but I wanted to keep a stable home), got therapy as needed, dated without mixing that with my home life (better than nothing, marriage material hasn't quite shown up yet), and I've done it. It was the far lesser of two evils, but I always say I will never be a single parent again in any of my future lives!

Something has to give in your scenario. Maybe there would be a way to move near family. Or subsidized housing and some flexible, well-paying job. Maybe an alliance with another single mother. Don't panic and don't rush. Don't underestimate what you can create. Spend time imagining it working and shifting the puzzle pieces around in your head. Put it all on paper, talk to friends. In the meantime give the marriage one honest last try if you think you can. If you have to wait, know you'll be out someday and play games in your head where you let go of the power struggles, pretend your husband is some house guest and be extremely polite and joking and as complimentary as possible while you're all there together. Why not? Something will work out


I bet all my friends on this Network think I wrote your letter!! Our kids are the same exact age and we are going through the same thing. Maybe it is the stress of having two little ones and trying to make it in the Bay Area? Our therapist mentioned that I may have experienced post lactation depression similiar to post partum, but that hardly gives my STBXH an excuse to become a deadbeat! I also have considered working overseas which will include a tax break and a housing stipend and maybe a fresh start? Before all of that I would suggest reading Divorce Busting by Michelle Weiner. It may not save our marriages but it has given me a lot of strength and hope. I wish I could give you a big hug! I know you were asking for advice but your letter made me feel less alone at this difficult time.

Taking the plunge into single motherhood

Sept 2006

My boyfriend and I have a beautiful, healthy and perfect 18 month old baby. The problem is that our relationship is a total mess. There are issues of infidelity (on his part), constant bickering, a lack of sex drive for me. We've been through counseling, but that didn't last long when our therapist ''fired'' us, because she said our problems were too deep and beyond her expertise.

I am a stay at home mom, and depend on him to support us financially. Unfortunateley, we have no family closeby to help with childcare and the thought of getting a nanny to raise my child absolutely breaks my heart. I haven't been away from my child for more than a few hours at a time.

My main goals are to somehow start Nursing school once our child starts preschool and remain in the Bay Area. I should also note that I have significant debt from student loans and credit cards. I'd like to see if any of you creative BPN readers have any ideas for me - Assuming my relationship is over, how can I support myself and my child on my own in the Bay Area? Some ideas I have are finding a live-in nanny exchange to pay for rent, getting a night job so that my boyfriend can babysit while I am at work, finding roomates with kids, etc. Of course, another main concern is how this separation will effect my baby?

If anyone has similar experiences or any ideas at all, I'd love to hear from you. I am very confused and emotional at the moment, so it's hard to think straight. I sit here and wonder how things got so bad and how my life turned out this way because it is definitely not the life I imagined for my precious child Anonymous


You may want to consider offering daycare services as a nanny / stay-at-home mom . Since your baby is now 18 months, he/she is really now a toddler and could probably do very well having one or two little ones around in the same age range for a few hours a day. My baby's former daycare was a stay-at-home-mom, and she was wonderful. It was a nice, quiet environment for my son to be in, with lots of one-on-one attention plus some socializing, it was a great experience for us. We payed her $12/hr (because she had prior nanny experience), but I've seen many stay-at-home-moms charge in the $9-$10/hr range. If you perhaps took on care for two children and could charge each perhaps $7-$8/hr for each child, that could bring your rate up to $14-$16/hr. I realize that may not be a lot by Bay Area standards, but I don't know what your budget needs are or how much debt you're in. If you have to return to work, the cost of childcare can be a huge expense, and making $14-$16/hr may not be so bad, especially considering that you'll still get to be with you baby full-time. Plus, he'll get some built in friends and socialization, and you'll still have plenty of one-on-one time with him after the other kids go home. Best of luck to you! Melody
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