Single Mom Seeks Playdates, Blind Dates

Welcome to the Tuesday guest blog. Every Tuesday -- in this case, Monday, because of tomorrow's holiday -- "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.


By Rachel Sarah

My boyfriend -- who was bipolar and an alcoholic -- walked out the door on Thanksgiving Day in 2000. His whereabouts? Unknown.

In hindsight, I feel lucky to be free of him. But I wasn't exactly prepared to be the 28-year-old single working mom of our seven-month-old baby. As a researcher at Time Inc., then a freelance editor and writer in New York City, I'd managed to support myself for a decade. Now, I had to turn to family and friends for help. I moved back to California for more support.

At first, the thought of dating again was unthinkable. It was tricky enough balancing hours of peek-a-boo and dirty diapers with editing and deadlines. Besides, trying to get over my ex had shut out the possibility of romance. Not to mention how exhausted I was.

When I hit 30, however, everything changed. I stopped nursing. I was ready to get out of domestic overdrive. This is how my Match.com profile began:

"Are you an honest, big-hearted man with no addictions, except coffee?"

First, there was Gary, the businessman who liked watching movies that make him sad. Then Robby, who looked like a Calvin Klein model and went to AA meetings every week. Guy was a human resources consultant who said: "I believe in love at first sight, yet I am grounded enough to pay my bills on time."

I got focused. Some might say that I got obsessed. I organized all "my men" in a thick three-ringed binder. I checked my e-mail at all hours (even when meeting a tight work deadline). When my daughter turned two, I jumped back into reporting -- I had a journalism degree -- and worked for a number of newspapers and magazines, including writing a romance column for j., the Jewish newsweekly of California, which included the perk of nice Jewish men writing to me.

One afternoon after picking up my five-year-old, I was back at it again, glued to the screen. All of a sudden, my daughter was next to me.

"Mommy, is that you?" She was pointing to my headshot.

"Uh, yes--"

"But it doesn't look like you, Mommy."

"It doesn't?" Maybe she was right; my grin did look strained.

What are you supposed to tell your little girl when you're going out on a date? I'd drop her off at a friend's house, and say, "Mommy is going out for coffee." Was it wrong to lie? The single parent dating guides didn't seem to apply to single moms.

"Don't share inappropriately with your children" (Duh!)

"Have regular family discussions with your children" (Excuse me?... She's
still in preschool!)

So I found my own way. Where once I was a free-spirited adventuress, now I am first and foremost a mom, dedicated fully to my daughter's well-being, which includes being her sole provider and trying to sneak in a few dates between deadlines and playdates.


Rachel Sarah's first book, Single Mom Seeking: Playdates, Blind Dates, and Other Dispatches from the Dating World comes out this December from Avalon/Seal Press. She lives in California with her family.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  July 3, 2006; 7:58 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
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Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



Hey, Leslie, for the second week in a row, you're posting at the wrong time. It's not Tuesday yet!

Rachel sounds like she still doesn't get it. After being irresponsible in the first place by getting pregnant by her bipolar, alcoholic boyfriend, she's still too focused on being single and "getting the guy." There's now a far more important person in her life: her daughter. Yet, Rachel is spending way too much energy (binders?) on findings a boyfriend. What is wrong with this woman?

Yes, it may seem unfair that she should have to sacrifice her dating life, but it was not her daughter's choice to be brought into this world or to be born into these circumstances.

Her daughter is two, for goodness sake! Rachel needs to wait much longer before she starts dating again. And, to be a good role model for her daughter, she needs to stop making "finding a man" such a major focus of her life.

Posted by: Getyourdates right | July 3, 2006 9:06 AM

Her daughter is five. I think she's doing well in terms of balance.

Good luck! I wish I knew a nice man for you, but I have a lovely sister to look out for first.

http://momsquawk.wordpress.com/

Posted by: MommaSteph | July 3, 2006 9:17 AM

Maybe you should actually read the article before you post... it says at the beginning that it was posted today because of tomorrow's holiday. In addition, Rachel's daughter is 5 years old, not 2.

Posted by: KML | July 3, 2006 9:17 AM

Actually, Getyourdatesright, if you'd bother to read carefully, her daughter is at least 5 now. So has Rachel waited long enough? When will she have your approval to go out on dates? When her daughter is 7? 10? 18 and in college?

Posted by: actually... | July 3, 2006 9:19 AM

Getyourdates right - please read the blog carefully - Leslie said she was doing tuesdays guest blog on monday because of the holiday and Rachel's daughter is now 5.

By the way how long does a single parent have to wait till she can date again?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2006 9:21 AM

The day the stigma disappeared from out of wedlock birth was sad day for this country.

But hey, as long as Rachel can find sufficient playmates, who cares, right? Perhaps another illegitimate child is just what the doctor ordered, eh?

Posted by: Registered Voter | July 3, 2006 9:22 AM

Hey, I missed her little comment about her daughter being 5. Sorry. Get over it.

My statements are still accurate. Rachel is obsessed with finding another man rather than focused on raising her daughter.

Posted by: Getyourdates right | July 3, 2006 9:24 AM

Registered Voter, would it have been better for her to have had an abortion? No one would have noticed the stigma then.

Posted by: MommaSteph | July 3, 2006 9:26 AM

Really, let's take a breath here and get a life about the date the blog is posted.

And, with regard to the inevitable posts (like the first one) that will claim that Rachel should have no life outside of her child . . . I think it is wrong and unrealistic. All people have the need for intimacy (and I don't necessarily mean sex). To speak to another ADULT. To go out on dates. To connect. The release she gets from being a single parent probably would help her be a better parent.

As long as Rachel is being responsible about exposing her child to the guys she meets -and there is NOTHING in her post that would indicate that she is not being responsible- than I have no problem with her dating. (And, I hardly think organizing her internet "finds" in binders indicates too much energy being spent to the detriment of her child - as the first poster implies. Maybe a little type-A . . . but so what?)

And, you're right. That child didn't ask to be born. But, Rachel didn't ask to be left by her boyfriend who is nowhere to be found and is not helping/contributing to raising the child. Sorry, I don't think Rachel should be punished for that by being forced into a life w/o another mate. Perhaps she was irresponsible by being with an alcoholic/abusive person. We all make mistakes and it sounds like she is learning from hers.

I say to Rachel, GOOD LUCK, and I hope you find happiness.

Posted by: JS | July 3, 2006 9:26 AM

"In hindsight, I feel lucky to be free of him. "

In HINDSIGHT? You were upset at the time that your alcoholic bi-polar boyfriend moved out, and it took you a while to realize he might not be good relationship material? That's pretty pathetic.

More troublesome is your apparent lack of concern about the fact that your daughter has no relationship with her father. No, all that his walking out meant was that you had to move back home because you were incapable of supporting the child on your own, and that eventually you had to find another man.

That you are obsessed--and yes, that's the word. deeply, weirdly, obsessed--with finding another man rather than finding out why you were driven to not only have a relationship with a mentally ill addict, but have a kid with him, demonstrates that your daughter's luck not only landed her with such a dad, but a sadly self-absorbed mother. I hope you have enough sense to keep whatever no-hopers you choose out of her life entirely and not, god forbid, introducing them as an "uncle".

BTW, your daughter was seven months old in November 2000, which means she should be 6 years old now, an age well past preschool. Either she's not very bright, or you regurgitated this column from your book without bothering to update it.

Posted by: Cal | July 3, 2006 9:27 AM

Momma Steph,

Yes, abortion certainly would have been an option. Not to mention...drum roll please...Birth Control!

But then, that would have required effort & responsibility.

Posted by: Registered Voter | July 3, 2006 9:39 AM

Cal-

I hope to God that none of your friends ever get exposed to an abusive (mentally or physically) relationship. They'd obviously get no help from you.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2006 9:48 AM

Wow, these comments are judgmental. The purpose of a posting is to get a discussion started that will benefit all readers (and hopefully benefit a very desperate single mother or 2 out there). The purpose is not to judge the poster or comment on their life; it's just not productive.

I'm not a single mother and can't imagine being one. But it happens. A lot. I was the product of a single mother. My mom didn't date much when I was little but even as a child I understood that she needed time away from me. When I was in the 4th grade, she became friends with my best friend's mom (also a single mom) and we spent every Friday night at one another's house so our moms had "the night off". Most nights they just enjoyed being alone at home in the quiet. My best advice is to be very honest. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for. They appreciate honesty, sense when you're lying, and they understand when mom is happy and sad.

Posted by: momof1 | July 3, 2006 9:51 AM

Wow, judgemental much?
I thought the blog and discussion would be about the challenges of dating while being a single mother, but this seems to be all about judging how Rachel became a single mother. Maybe she and her boyfriend planned the pregnancy, maybe he was on meds and in recovery and then took a turn for the worse. Even if that's not the case, are people actually arguing that her daughter should never have been born, and since she was born, Rachel should never date again? i would think that traditionalists would be happy at the prospect that some day the child may have a happily ever after two parent family if her mother continues to date.
Would people be nicer to her if she were a widow and dating? what if she adopted as a single mother? I am amazed how mean people can be about someone they don't even know.

Posted by: amazed | July 3, 2006 9:55 AM

Whoah people, why not stop attacking the writer and try discussing the issues she's presenting? Plenty of times on this blog have mothers responded to discussions involving two-parent households stating that the single-parent case is entirely different. I for one would like for them to have their day to show us just how.

And on the dad issue: if the father's not making the effort to see his daughter and the mother doesn't think he's a good influence, how much responsibility does she really have to make him be a father figure? Wouldn't a child be better off with other family role models nearby and possibly, someday, a loving stepfather?

Posted by: SEP | July 3, 2006 9:56 AM

You know, I'm a conservative and I don't see anything wrong with what this lady is doing. She was dating someone that turned out badly--it happens. The guy left and she took care of herself and her daughter. She leaned on her family, but is now getting on her feet with work again. We all have our needs. If we don't take care of ourselves then we can't take care of others. I wish this lady good luck. She isn't singing any song of "woe is me" or "it's not my fault--it's someone else's fault." She is taking responsibility for her life and her daughter and moving on. Good Luck to her and God bless.

Posted by: Annandale, | July 3, 2006 9:56 AM

"I hope to God that none of your friends ever get exposed to an abusive (mentally or physically) relationship. They'd obviously get no help from you."

That's simply untrue (even assuming that mentally ill and addicted equates to abusive). I would, however, expect them to end the relationship, rather than wait for the guy to walk out and take several years before "hindsight" sets in. I would also expect them to realize that their situation was entirely of their own choosing and take steps to ensure they won't do the same thing again. People don't end up with addicts, abusers, or other forms of lousy partners by accidents, in most cases. Hence the term "broken picker".

"hopefully benefit a very desperate single mother or 2 out there"

Why would any single mother be "desperate" for another man? Any single parent, regardless of gender, should be very circumspect about introducing new relationships to their children. If they are "desperate" for dating or relationships, then they probably don't have the resources in place to have a balanced life that allows them to date without affecting their kids--and in that case, they shouldn't be thinking about new relationships at all.

Posted by: Cal | July 3, 2006 9:58 AM

"if the father's not making the effort to see his daughter and the mother doesn't think he's a good influence, how much responsibility does she really have to make him be a father figure?"

She has an enormous responsibility to do whatever she can, above and beyond his own failures. She's the one who landed the kid with a dad like this. She's the one with the responsibility to see that her kid has whatever relationship can be managed with him. Obviously, the father has a responsibility as well. But his failure doesn't mitigate her responsibility. Quite the contrary, it increases hers.

"Wouldn't a child be better off with other family role models nearby and possibly, someday, a loving stepfather?"

She can have positive family role models and, someday, if her mother is capable of it, a loving stepfather. Ideally, other loving relationships will serve to mitigate the damage done by having a father who is clearly inadequate to raising his daughter. But they do not replace a children's need and desire to have a relationship--any sort of relationship--with their fathers.

While I'm sure everyone will now want to post anecdata that pretends to support or rebut this position ("I never knew my dad and longed for his presence all my life" vs. "My mom left my dad when I was born and I never thought of him again"), I hope they ask themselves whether a father's presence is valuable to a child, or if we should first determine whether or not his personal qualifications render him valuable before deciding.

This really doesn't have much to do with her dating per se, but it's part of her overall lack of awareness about the choices she made that put her into this situation, and the impact her choices have on her daughter.

Posted by: Cal | July 3, 2006 10:09 AM

excuse me, birth control doesn't always work.
The nasty jerks are really out in force on this blog today. The poster is promoting her book, and trying to help others learn from her experiences. Be nice, people.

Posted by: experienced mom | July 3, 2006 10:13 AM

Wow, it's amazing how hostile some of you are toward this woman. For some reason you have a desire to see her punished for the rest of her life. Why is that exactly?

Posted by: Lilybeth | July 3, 2006 10:14 AM

Cal, maybe you should stop making sweeping inferences about the author's relationship with her ex-boyfriend (maybe the bipolarity and alcoholism were already evident when she got involved, or maybe they weren't; there's just not enough to go on) and reread what's actually written there. She talks about the obsessive behavior and binders in the past tense and as something she did at the beginning of her search, which suggests she's found a better balance. And given that she's not bringing the kid along with her on dates and knows not to "share inappropriately," I don't know where you're getting the "uncle" accusation from.

Posted by: fs | July 3, 2006 10:14 AM

First, why are all the romance column writers such losers? How is getting knocked-up out of wedlock by a bi-polar drunk a credential for giving Jewish people dating advice?

Second, whatever happened to getting married before getting pregnant? These "accidents" don't happen if you save the unprotected sex for marriage.

Third, why do women always want to sleep with the abusive jerks, then expect the "nice" guys to take care of them when the consequences of being irresponsible emerge? Why do they think these "nice" guys would want to raise the offspring of the ahole?

This column shows exactly what is wrong with the thought process of American women these days -- or, rather, the lack of their thought process.

Posted by: Another View | July 3, 2006 10:17 AM

>The purpose of a posting is to get a discussion started that will benefit all readers

Here's some advice that will benefit all readers ... don't have sex with bipolar alcoholics.

And if you do, and you end up pregnant, put the baby up for adoption.

Posted by: been there ... | July 3, 2006 10:17 AM

"The poster is promoting her book, and trying to help others learn from her experiences. Be nice, people."

So why should the author make a living from her sins? What happened to stigmatizing social behavior we find unacceptable? Why should we subsidize it by making her a celebrity?

There is a PLAGUE of illegitimate children born in the USA today. These children cost society more, suffer more, and receive less. And this plague coincides with the INCREASE of opportunity and equal rights for women. What that says is that women are CHOOSING to be single moms, in droves. What that means is that they are DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE for their actions.

So -- All who find it pathetic that women choose to sleep around with losers, get pregnant by them, and then try to give advice to others about relationships (while failing to acknowledge just how irresponsible they were themselves and blaming, instead, the men in their lives) ARE OBLIGATED to make their voices heard loud and clear.

Posted by: My Thoughts | July 3, 2006 10:25 AM

SOME REAL ADVICE FOR SINGLE MOMS

(that women won't tell you)

1. Make sure the father is paying child support. The new guy WILL NOT want to pick up the old guy's tab.

2. The best time to find a new guy is sooner, not later. If there is a new guy who will take on your kid, it will be more likely when the kid is younger. (And, it doesn't hurt if you are younger, too.)

3. Consider dating while pregnant. Plenty of guys find pregnant women are sexy. And he will be more invested in the "outcome".

Posted by: REAL ADVICE | July 3, 2006 10:33 AM

Look, frankly, I don't understand why some of you call the comments "judgmental". It seems to me that some of you call any criticism judgmental. However, would you call compliments "judgmental"? Judgments are things we do all the time. When we say "you're doing great!", we're passing a judgment. So, it's a complete conversation stopper (and utterly absurd) when you accuse people of being "judgmental". If you disagree with someone's assessment, explain why and give your position. It's that easy.

Now, look, I can understand Rachel making a mistake with her first loser boyfriend. However, my problem is that she still hasn't learned from her mistakes. Moreover, she now has a child who did not ask to be part of her life of mistakes. She makes it sound like being a single mother just makes her dating life a little more challenging.

However, when you become a mother (or father), even if you are single, you need to reassess what you are doing in your life. Her need to be with a man shows that she lacks a strong sense of self and confidence in simply being her. With such a young child, she shouldn't be out there on Match.com and creating binders of men. As any parent will tell you, they're always busy working and taking care of their kids. So, my question is: Why does Rachel have all this time to be dating?

Frankly, I think it's horrible to bring a kid into this situation (yes, adoption was a possibility) yet spend so much time on extracurricular activities (where she has already shown poor judgment). I can tell you that, if I were single, I would have NO time to be creating binders of potential mates while working and raising a 5 year old.

Posted by: ThinkingMan | July 3, 2006 10:34 AM

This has to be the most consistently hyper-judgemental message board on the web. From now on, only perfect people should write about their lives! That would sure be interesting....

Posted by: Random Reader | July 3, 2006 10:38 AM

Perhaps another illegitimate child is just what the doctor ordered, eh?

Jerk. No child is illegitamate. Born to unmarried parents, perhaps, but illegitimate is such an ugly label to place on an innocent child. Every child is a gift, regardless of the circumstances. It's too bad that there are people who are too closeminded and judgmental to see that.

Posted by: rockville | July 3, 2006 10:46 AM

Exodus apparently forgot to mention the 11th plague that befell Egypt: the plague of illegitimate children. The horror! Really now, My Thoughts, those children are a plague? I think I'd take a bunch of human beings rather than boils and lice. Pick your words better and people might actually listen to what you're saying rather than be immediately alienated.

Posted by: Em | July 3, 2006 10:48 AM

Rather than focus on the author's life particulars, why not focus on the issue, dating as a single parent? Just change the particulars to: person in loving, traditional marriage, has baby, and spouse dies tragically when child is 7 months. By doing this, you can get away from the judgmental tone and focus on a real issue, what to do when you are left to raise a child on your own. This recently happened to a dear friend whose husband had a heart attack after jogging and died at 33, leaving his wife and a 4-month-old. What should she do with the rest of her life?

Posted by: pleasefocus | July 3, 2006 10:51 AM

Why do women hook up with losers who won't marry them and want to leave them with a child to raise? I have sympathy for the child but not for the loser mom. You made your bed, now lie in it.

Posted by: patrick | July 3, 2006 10:53 AM

FS,

Telling that you describe the guy as her "ex-boyfriend" when his most important role is "father of her child". In any event, I made no inferences about her relationship and I certainly understand that many otherwise fine people aren't good at selecting good mates. I'm only using her own words. She only saw his departure as a positive "in hindsight", which means that at the time, she valued her relationship with a mentally ill addict. That clearly suggests that something is a tad screwy about her ability to judge relationship quality. She makes no mention of seeking to address and possibly repair that capability--no, she just gets herself back on stable footing and starts looking for the next guy.

People who enter and maintain relationships with clearly inadequate partners are at high risk of doing it again. That's not a condemnation, merely a fact. The fact that she doesn't recognize her problems--and she doesn't, or she'd mention them--does warrant condemnation.

And amen to the guy who points out that postive responses are every bit as judgmental as negative ones.

Posted by: Cal | July 3, 2006 10:54 AM

I think when you have a child, your life and needs just take the back seat for a couple of years. I'm sure there are ways to balance your first pirority of being a parent with finding another adult to share your life but your child's safety and wellbeing come first.

I feel badly for the author, she sounds like she got herself into a major pickle and is having a difficult time achieving balance in her life and the life of her daughter. I wish her luck.

Posted by: anotherthought | July 3, 2006 10:55 AM

how many of today's comments are posted by men? most of them, I would guess. I'd love to know. Have any of you ever been a young, single mom? Walk a mile in her shoes before you get so nasty please. (Thank you to ThinkingMan for stating his opinions so politely.)

Posted by: experienced mom | July 3, 2006 10:56 AM

Wow. Lot's of perfect people out there, ready to blast anyone who has made some mistakes. I applaud Rachel, for raising her daughter well, supporting her family, furthering her career, and attempting to find love again. We all deserve second and third and more chances. And it would be plain stupid to say, oops, I screwed up, and that means I need to punish myself forever and deny myself any happiness that life has to offer. As for the idiots out there who are so willing to bash her for her mistakes, who cares what they think? Go Rachel, and don''t let the turkeys get you down.

Posted by: Rockville | July 3, 2006 10:58 AM

Excuse me, but making a baby takes 2 people. Yes - I know about sperm banks, but even they rely on men to provide sperm, if not a father figure. How is it the writer's fault entirely that she got pregnant out of wedlock? What ever happened to unmarried men having a responsibility to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Are single men allowed pre-marital sex, but not single woman?

We don't know if this was a planned pregnancy or not. What we do know is that this woman made a consicous choice to raise her child the best way she knew how. She returned to California not for financial support (no where does she say she couldn't support her family financially) but for emotional support. For family who are thrilled to spend some time with their grandaughter/niece while Mom gets the shopping done. For friends who are happy to trade off babysitting and play dates, because it gives all the parents a chance for some adult time.

It takes 2 people to make a baby. But it takes good parenting, and a supportive community to turn that baby into a caring, capable, responsible adult. And it sounds like this child now has that community.

When you fall off your soapbox, I hope you find a community willing to help you back to your feet too!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2006 11:00 AM

I too am stunned by how harsh and judgmental a lot of posters are today. Are you just venting because you're at work on a pseudo-holiday? Give Rachel a break. She's doing the best to raise her daughter in a safe, supportive, loving environment -- and she is being honest about her own life and faults. None of us are perfect -- before or after we become parents. Go easy...Rachel's story could easily be that of our sister or daughter or mother.

Posted by: Leslie | July 3, 2006 11:00 AM

To all the people who expect Rachel not to date and only focus on her child I assume you have never hired a babysitter for alone time with your spouse before your child(ren) were over five years old.

As far as her evaluating her past relationship - maybe she has - that maybe where the hindsight comes from - this group has been quick to critize her and tell her how terrible a person she is based on a 300 word easy

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2006 11:01 AM

This recently happened to a dear friend whose husband had a heart attack after jogging and died at 33, leaving his wife and a 4-month-old. What should she do with the rest of her life?

Well, according to some of the posters on this blog, she should spend the rest of her life repenting for picking a guy with a bad heart, and spend every waking moment with her child who will take a heavy toll on society because he or she doesn't have a father.
Apparently, it is evil to be a single parent, but once you become one, you are not allowed to date (particularly if you have ever had an unsuccessful relationship), so you must raise a child without a partner to become the burden on society it was destined to be. Oh yeah, and it wouldn't hurt if these women wore a red letter on their chests.

Posted by: amazed | July 3, 2006 11:03 AM

First, I think that sharing the fact that her bipolar, alcoholic boyfriend walked out was asking for a response. Interestingly, this person has not done enough work on herself to be "ready" for dating. While I will not bash her for having a child with a partner that was less than ideal, I would at least wonder what were the qualifications of this "loser" for a father that attracted her in the first place.

But all of the discussion of three ring binders and websites and what do I tell my daughter is simply a continuation of her first statement: "Woe is me. Look what life dealt me. When do I get something for me?"

As an involuntarily divorced man (i.e. no actual smoking gun--I guess for some women partnership is not an option or only the relationship of being a mommy or a boss is possible with a man), I am also faced with the daunting prospect of dating. I think that how you deal with it with a child is simply a no brainer--do you discuss your taxes with your child?

But I realize and do not expect that anyone will be the "perfect" match. I am more amazed that women, especially women who are my age, don't seem interested in dating any actual humans, because the qualifications for someone that is worthy of them do not occur in the natural world.

So all of this leads to a form of sexual window shopping with the compulsory complaints that there are any good men out there. Do women really want bad boys, but aren't willing to be honest about the consequences? Or must a good man be perfect, which again allows the eternal warmth of self-pity (and righteousness) to bathe such a person with the reassurance that it "can't be me"?

Posted by: eddie | July 3, 2006 11:04 AM

Is it the holiday, why are people so cranky today?

Also, I think this illustrates a major stigma a lot of us (self included) carry against single mothers. Single mothers are expected to sacrifice everything (give up men, their sense of self) and be wonder woman to raise their children in perfection. Look at the stories: "My mother was single and gave up everything for us and we're great because of it" and those like it on that vein. Single fathers? No such stigma. My current boyfriend is a single father and I hear (from those not involved in our relationship) first hand how different the expectations are for him and his ex. She takes the kid for a night because boyfriend and I have plans - no problem. He takes the kid because she has a date for Valentine's Day - blasphemy! She's a she-devil who thinks of nothing but her own needs never mind the innocent child! Whatever, people. She had a lovely time with a nice guy on Valentine's Day and boyfriend, child and I made enough paper hearts to fill the interior of the Capital Dome. We both had a ton of fun. Simply because these are not the choices you would personally make does not make them automatically wrong.

Posted by: Spob | July 3, 2006 11:09 AM

'Do women really want bad boys, but aren't willing to be honest about the consequences?'

a recent study stated that women are more atttacted to the bad boys. The men that don't make good life partners. Go figure!

Posted by: experienced mom | July 3, 2006 11:09 AM

A lot of comments seemed to focus on shaming the mother. But didn't she do the right thing here? She got in a mess, and stepped up and took responsibility for her child. Isn't that what all the right-to-life advocates say that pregnant women should do rather than aborting their child (where are you people now -- criticizing her!)? And as for casually saying that she should have put the child up for adoption, I think that is a major decision with life-long impacts for both mother and child. Not something to be done without serious consideration. Kudos to this single mom, and keep fighting the fight -- you sound like a loving mom to your child.

Posted by: Rebecca | July 3, 2006 11:09 AM

Well, I wonder if the father has any trouble getting dates. Probably not, since he doesn't have to balance his adult social needs with a little girl's. If you met this guy IRL, would you judge him even half as harshly as you've judged Rachel, clearly the more responsible parent?

I just don't get all the vitriol being dumped on Rachel here. She's been *dating* for several years, not subjecting her daughter to a random string of live-in-boyfriends.

Posted by: Brookland | July 3, 2006 11:11 AM

ignoring all the nasty comments/countercomments

My wife and I began dating when her children were 5 and 8 years old. the rules she and I followed seemed to make pretty good sense.

1. I did not meet the kids till we had been dating about 6 months. The advice she had gotten was to not allow the kids to see a bunch of men come in and out of her life which was pretty good advice. She also did not start dating till about a year after she and the ex separated.

2. I have been another male in the family but am not the kids dad, I am their step dad and the relationship is subtly different. She should be very careful about looking for a father for her child, it probably will not turn out well.

3. We were very careful about the kids seeing us sleeping together etc until we got married.

4. We met on line and spent several weeks corresponding before deciding to meet for brunch one sunday. I dated several women I met on line after my divorce and none of them was a "dud" since I spent a lot of time corresponding before meeting. While there wasn't always an attraction they were all very nice people who I enjoyed spending the time with. It was certainly better then the dating scene before my first marriage in the late 70's early 80's. The lengthy correspondence seemed to screen out the grossly incompatible.

I think Rachel may be making a mistake allowing here daughter to see the dating process. It would probably be better to keep her daughter separated from the men in her life until she is reasonably certain it is going forward.

Posted by: chet | July 3, 2006 11:14 AM

Thanks to "amazed" for mentioning the red letter on the chests. I was absolutely thinking of Nathaniel Hawthorne's _The Scarlet Letter_ when I read some of these men's posts.

Ms. Sarah, I hope that your daughter grows up healthy and happy and that you are able to enjoy both her life and yours for many years to come.

Btw, it does sting that so many people keep saying that dating someone mentally ill indicates a terrible choice. I have dealt with mental illness since childhood and I'm grateful to have a husband who loves me.

Also, quit taking Registered Voter's bait! He/She is just a troll.

Posted by: hawthorne | July 3, 2006 11:15 AM

Great to see there are so many people out there who are absolutley perfect, never made a mistake , never got involved with someone not right for them, sees all relationships clearly and objectively while in them. I guess you can also spot an alcoholic or mentally ill person at 50 paces so you can run the other way. I suppose you met your spouse when you were both 16, married at 18, feel virturous for not having sex those two years and qualified to pass judgement on those who aren't so lucky.

You've demonstrated your perfection by basing your comments on something other than what the article says. She's not obsessed, she clearly says "first and foremost a mom, ... trying to sneak in a few dates between deadlines and playdates."

"trying to sneak in a few dates" does not make someone obsessed, desperate or pathetic. It makes her a normal person with normal human desires.

Pleasefocus: Well, according to the comments here, your friend should consider her life over, except for her child-raising duties. She must live a one-dimensional life, which she deserves, since she demonstrated poor judgement by marrying a man with a heart problem. Actually, someone who was so irresponsible as to have children with a sick man should have her children taken away from her and adopted by one of the many perfect people on this board who make only correct decisions and therefor are the only ones who should be parents.

Posted by: Annoyed by the judgemental | July 3, 2006 11:16 AM

Wow - I read Rachel's essay and was going to post a response related to dating as a single mom. Fortunately, I read the responsive posts BEFORE I submitted and now realize how foolish I would have been to open myself up for such nasty, mean-spirited and judgmental comments. I'm actually embarrassed to have been part of today's "discussion." Previous entries have included much more respectfull discussion, even if there was equal disagreement as to the topic. Where did the nice, intelligent, thoughful people go?

Posted by: SS | July 3, 2006 11:16 AM

Rachel said - "What are you supposed to tell your little girl when you're going out on a date? I'd drop her off at a friend's house, and say, "Mommy is going out for coffee." Was it wrong to lie? "

This doesn't seem like she is overly involving her daughter with the dating process.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2006 11:19 AM

WOW!!! Some of you are really wearing your crown of thorns tight today . . .

All of you hyper-judgmental, mean-sprited (not to mention ignorant) people get a gold star for never having made a bad mistake in your choice of partners or decisions that you've made! How nice it must be for you. Most of us -me included- live in the real world.

I'll leave you to looking down your noses at Rachel (and I'm sure others) now. . . it seems what most of you do best.

Posted by: JS | July 3, 2006 11:19 AM

Another observation: the single moms I know raise some of the most considerate, empathetic kids out there. The kids must see how much their mothers sacrifice for them. Never met a spoiled brat with a single mom. So go, Rachel!

Posted by: Leslie | July 3, 2006 11:29 AM

"never got involved with someone not right for them"

Been involved with LOTS of wrong people. However, took the precaution of NOT getting anybody pregnant. Makes for easy breaking up.

"I guess you can also spot an alcoholic or mentally ill person at 50 paces so you can run the other way."

Hopefully, you spend a little time around them BEFORE getting pregnant and can see some of the signs.


There's a differnce in being a single mom from divorce, early death of husband, etc. and being a single mom because you got pregnant before marriage. It has to do with character - or lack thereof.

Posted by: Non voter | July 3, 2006 11:29 AM

Any American man reading the responses from women on this blog should learn why NEVER to date American women. Feminism has ruined them. They think women are little gods, above all judgement. No matter what a woman does these days, she cannot be judged, apparently. The stupidest trick in the book is also to say "what if it was your sister or mother." Well, family members can be foolish as well.

No one here is saying they are perfect, b ut bring a child into the world with a bi-polar alcoholic who isn't even around is beyond what most of us have done.

When men screw up society, they get punished. When women do it, they get book deals. This is a reason never to support anything -- personal or political -- any American women does, ever.

Posted by: Dennis B | July 3, 2006 11:29 AM

First, I don't see anyone saying that she should put her life entirely on hold. I certainly did not.

Second, if people don't want their choices to undergo scrutiny and comment, then they probably shouldn't write about them in the Washington Post.

Finally, there is no one "single parent". Just as marriages have a variety of shapes and forms, single parenting has many different categories: never married, planned single parent, unplanned single parent, divorced, both parents present, one parent present.

For example, I'm a single parent, although my son is 18 and on his way to college. It doesn't stop me from perceiving all sorts of problems with the author's presentation of her life and its reflection of her priorities. I have no objection to her dating again, and I don't think she should devote her entire life to her child. I do think she should realize that she is responsible for her choices, and if she doesn't specifically acknowledge the problems implicit in her post, then I'll point them out.

Posted by: Cal | July 3, 2006 11:29 AM

Thanks to Chet for actually posting something on-topic. Seems like some decent real-world advice drawn from experience. Too bad SS won't post, but I can't say that I blame her.

Posted by: pleasefocus | July 3, 2006 11:33 AM

Rachel, I've been in the same position that you describe (including having divorced an untreated bipolar alcoholic; we met when we were very young.).

And I just split with my boyfriend last month. Today is my birthday, which we had planned to spend in Mexico. I've opted to work today instead of sitting home alone.

I am truly sorry about the horribly ugly posts here; I've had some men on here spew some vile, nasty comments my way as well. Apparently single mothers simply shouldn't have a social life (unless, of course, we are seeking replacement daddies), but our ex-husbands and ex-boyfriends should be allowed to abandon their children, move on and do whatever they please. I'm sure my ex-husband's second wife would leave him if he were forced to take custody of our daughter. New wife doesn't like kids.

Right now it's too soon for me to date again. But I still face the same issues, and I am now 41. On a recent online dating poll at askmen.com, 30% of the respondents (men between 18 and 45) said they would never consider dating a single mother. On another forum, a man stated, "Why would I want to deal with another man's mistake?"

I've been in a position where I meet a man who is attracted to me, then I mention I have a ten-year-old daughter. The attraction fades rather quickly. I suspect that gets rid of men quicker than if I said, "I have herpes" (and no, I do NOT have the big H; simply a comparison).

And from the posts on this forum today, it's pretty clear that there is a stigma for a single mother to date. I wonder if the posts would be so nasty if a single father were dating? I doubt it.

Good luck, Rachel, and again, thanks for putting this out there.

Posted by: single western mom | July 3, 2006 11:34 AM

I don't understand why some people are so incredibly dissaproving of this woman. She makes it quite clear that she puts the needs of her daughter before her own. The comments made about putting her daughter up for adoption like it would be just a casual run of the mill decsion are disgusting. She should be applauded for taking responsibility not yelled at for making mistakes that so many other people have

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2006 11:40 AM

Cal, so you're a single parent. After all of your posts, I think you owe it to the group to tell us how you became a single parent, what efforts you made to determine how the circumstances of your becoming a single parent reflected deficiencies in your "ability to judge relationship quality", and how you addressed any such deficiencies before you began dating again, if you have?

Posted by: Tom T. | July 3, 2006 11:41 AM

single western mom: Please, I'm not trying to attack you here.

You make it sound like you think the 30% of men who said they would never date a single mom are wrong. I'm sure it sucks when you find a guy that you think is great but turns out he dumps you after finding out about your kid. So, he wasn't that great of a guy.

I'm sure there are men out there that want (or at least are indifferent) about getting a stepchild. But just because a guy isn't, doesn't make him wrong or bad.

When I was dating, I didn't date large women. Does that make me bigoted and/or wrong? No, I just knew I didn't want to marry a large woman. Some things - like size - are obvious from the first meeting. Parenthood isn't.

Just because you aren't what he wants, don't chastise him.

Posted by: Father of 2 | July 3, 2006 11:45 AM

I am dating a single woman and I admire her approach to dating. The child's needs come first, whether it be the science fair or a tough homework project. I never sleep over when the child is there. Mom integrates me into their life via conversation and my presence around the house and at the son's activities. So she manages to make the child comfortable with her dating and gets to enjoy her own personal happiness as well. Her mantra: happy mom, happy child.

Posted by: Leo | July 3, 2006 11:46 AM

Actually, Dennis B., when men screw up they zip up their pants and walk away. The women are left with the responsibility, even though biologically it takes TWO people to create a life.

I could have dropped my daughter off with my ex-husband and left him holding the bag. Would everyone be spewing nasty comments at him if he were left to raise our child alone? Would he be hearing that he shouldn't date because he married the wrong person?

Why isn't anyone addressing the fact that Rachel's boyfriend didn't care enough to get sober and be a father to his child???

And I still don't understand why there is a differentiation among widows dating, divorcees dating, or never-married single mothers dating. We are all sinlge mothers by whatever circumstance, we are working hard to raise our children on our own, and why don't we deserve the chance to find love?

Posted by: single western mom | July 3, 2006 11:47 AM

Wow, what a bunch of asses are posting today! I sure hope this woman has some kind thoughtful people in her life who will help her through a day of being attacked by a bunch of obnoxious creeps who apparently are completely lacking in empathy and compassion.

Posted by: wow | July 3, 2006 11:48 AM

Because his partner found him intolerable and DUMPED him.

As for Dennis, he may as well practice a lot of self-love, because no self-respecting woman, American or otherwise, will put up with him for long.

Posted by: I can tell you why call is a single parent | July 3, 2006 11:51 AM

Father of 2:

I'm not sure why you feel I directed a comment at you...and I did not chastise a man because he chose not to date me or any other single mom. I was simply pointing out the statistics involved and the hurdles that single mothers face in the dating ganme (and goodness, can you imagine how tough it is for large single mothers?).

And I am pointing out the double standard of blaming women but not holding men responsible when a relationship/marriage fails and the woman takes responsibility for raising the children.

Take a look at these comments today. They are the nastiest I have seen on this blog yet. And these are predominantly educated men on here...

Posted by: single western mom | July 3, 2006 11:55 AM

Dennis B.
Why don't you move somewhere more fit for those like you. Perhaps the moon would be good. Or you could float on the top of some pond.


Posted by: Cleveland | July 3, 2006 11:55 AM

For those of you who keep insulting those you disagree with: Why don't you post your thoughts and opinions on the subject matter and explain why you disagree with others?

Anyway, I grew up with a single mother. She intentionally waited until I was around 12 or 13 before she really started dating again. She did this for a couple reasons:

1) She was busy working and raising me. Again, I'm not sure why some of you don't notice that Rachel MUST be spending way too much time on the dating scene (e.g. binders of men?).

2) She didn't want me to feel like there was more important priority in her life. I know that it's hard for many of you to understand, but when you're raised by a single parent, it's very easy to worry about losing the one and only parent you have. If you feel like you're being shunted aside, it stings -- A LOT.

Now, look, this doesn't mean someone can't go out occasionally, but it's impossible to develop a serious long-term relationship by going out occasionally. So, either Rachel is putting too much time and energy into finding a guy or she's just going on casual dates. Based on her blog, I don't think it's the latter. She really sounds dead-serious about finding the next guy.

Posted by: ThinkingMan | July 3, 2006 11:58 AM

On further thought, I wonder if the poll asking men about dating a single mother breaks down the answers on age - 18 to 45 is a wide range.

I ask because when I was in my 20s, I would never date a single mother. I wanted to have my own kids and not deal with steps. However, now that I'm older - and have my own kids - I believe that if I were single again, I wouldn't be against dating a single mother. It's not because I would be a single parent too but that the desire to have my own kids has been met and I'm in a different place now.

Posted by: Father of 2 | July 3, 2006 11:59 AM

Where are you. We need some sane man on this blog, not the overbearing, self-righteous sexist pigs who seem to be out in full force today. Come back and chase these pigs away.

Posted by: Father of 4 | July 3, 2006 12:00 PM

Oh, by the way, to all you who keep saying "she shouldn't be punished forever" and all that crap: Pay attention.

1) Having to raise a kid (and spend time doing it!) is not a punishment. It's merely a consequence of her previous actions. We all have to own up to consequence (good and bad).

2) My point is that she should be waiting until her daughter is older before she goes back on to her manhunt.

Posted by: ThinkingMan | July 3, 2006 12:00 PM

Single western mom, I didn't feel you directed a comment at me. I just wanted to start off saying I'm not attacking you (with that post). I see the vitrol and hatred in the posts above and I didn't want to get "caught in the wave" of backlash against men. :)

I read your comment about men backing away when you mention your child (like it was herpes) as somewhat bitter towards them.

I wonder if anybody has done a poll to ask women if they would date a man raising his kids? I would think the younger women (i.e. those wanting their own kids or not "mature" enough to want to raise other's kids) would be anti-single dad.

Posted by: Father of 2 | July 3, 2006 12:03 PM

Oh yeah: Angelina Jolie was a single mom...I bet each and every one of those 30% would reconsider if faced with a choice like that...breathtaking beauty and money can make a big difference ; )

Posted by: single western mom | July 3, 2006 12:03 PM

"Oh yeah: Angelina Jolie was a single mom...I bet each and every one of those 30% would reconsider if faced with a choice like that...breathtaking beauty and money can make a big difference ; )"

Na, she doesn't do it for me. Too much baggage and too many issues. :)

Posted by: Father of 2 | July 3, 2006 12:06 PM

Years and years ago, I dated a guy who was raising two boys. Mother was out of the picture. After a year, I realized he was mostly interested in finding someone to do the work for him (ie, taking care of the boys, cooking, cleaning, laundry) so that he could relax. I realized he was taking advantage of him and ended it. His reaction was that I was selfish for being unwilling to do his job.

Posted by: Rockville | July 3, 2006 12:07 PM

Tom, I don't "owe" you a thing. You have an odd idea about discussion boards if you think posters are required to reveal in order to comment.

I haven't once presented myself as having made superior choices, nor have I castigated her for the ones she did make. When you figure that out, perhaps you'll be able to focus on what I did say, rather than whatever point you have a handy rebuttal for.

Posted by: Cal | July 3, 2006 12:11 PM

To all of you "don't be judgemental" people,
the problem is a lack of judgement and the crushing consequences of poor judgement. These men that some women have children with, these men who have no interest in marrying them, these men who have serious problems, who leave shortly thereafter ARE NOT DADDY MATERIAL!People who do irresponsible things never take responsibilty for their actions but always pawn it off. A lack of judgement is condemning a generation of women to poverty and hardship. Let's get judgemental.

Posted by: MARRIED FATHER OF TWO | July 3, 2006 12:13 PM

Tom, I don't "owe" you a thing. You have an odd idea about discussion boards if you think posters are required to reveal in order to comment.

Yup, he was dumped for sure.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2006 12:14 PM

First off- bipolar disorder is a disease just like asthma or diabetes that can be controled or managed. It has nothing to do with a person's character or morals. It's quite possible the child's father was stable when the parents were first involved, then declined and started self medicating with alcohol. Often the bipolar person is the last one to realize what is happening.

Second, we don't know if they were planning to marry. It was obviously a serious relationship of some type.

Third, what is wrong with seeking out a stable, permanent relationship when you have a child? The author is looking for a mate, not sleeping around. Would anyone be making that assumption if she were widowed or divorced?

One thing I can say from my own experience as a single mom is that I tend to jettison the losers much quicker. Stable adult relationships are preferable to being single, but alone is always preferable to having Mr. Bad Example around your child.

Posted by: mom of 9 year old girl | July 3, 2006 12:15 PM

OK - I'm going to do something crazy here. I'm going to ask people to think about the general subject of dating as a single parent (as the author probably intended), rather than continuing this nasty discussion.

I am a single woman, and I'm considering adopting a child alone. WHY?
* Because I've always wanted to be a mom, and so far I haven't met a man I want to share my life with.
* Because I really enjoy children - infants and babies, toddlers and kindergartners. Even middle school and high school students, who've discovered that they know everything and their parents know nothing.
* Because I have a lot to give, emotionally, and there is a child, somewhere in the world, in desparate need of the caring home I can provide.
* And many more complicated reasons.

But again, if I follow through, I will be a Single Mother by Choice. And because this will be a choice, dating will fall relatively low on my priority list, probably for many years. But when you happen to meet someone you want to date, how do you handle it? How do you juggle the priorities? How do you make your child(ren) not feel left out? How do you explain to your family that married couples hire babysitters for a night out, and you have that same need? When do you tell this potential date about your children? As soon as you say hello and shake hands? When the invitation for a date is issued? Over dinner?

I don't really want to read anyone's comments about whether or not I should actually adopt a child as a single parent. That will be my decision, and I'm not interested in starting the next violent hateful discussion. But for the single parents out there - moms and dads - how do you handle this reality?

Posted by: considering single parenthood | July 3, 2006 12:17 PM

"There is a PLAGUE of illegitimate children born in the USA today. These children cost society more, suffer more, and receive less. And this plague coincides with the INCREASE of opportunity and equal rights for women."

"Experienced Mom" "Rockville" and Leslie are making reasoned comments. The nitwit who made the above comment needs his or her head examined. There have always been children born out of wedlock. Society just hid them away. And thank G-d for the increase in opportunity for women--with it came birth control, financial power, etc. Now women don't have to be sent away to have their babies or die from sepsis from botched back alley abortions.

Do I think people SHOULD have children outside of marriage? Not really. It's hard raising children with one parent. This is why we as parents need to be vigilent with our children and give them a reason to wait to have children until marriage. Judgements are for G-d and self-rightous Christians need to stop telling the rest of us how to live (it is America, freedom of religion, etc). Here's hoping for a change from the nasty holier than thou politics to a reasoned, intelligent political atmosphere (no more Bushes and Roves).

Posted by: Proud feminist mother | July 3, 2006 12:23 PM

This is post is going to be completely off- topic, which I don't really feel the need to apologize for given that today's topic seems to consist mainly of tearing each other to shreds.

I just wanted to say to all the men on this blog (by which I really mean the regulars - like Father of 4 said, where are you today??) that I am totally sorry for getting annoyed when you get irritated/defensive because you feel like Leslie or others are lumping all men in a stereotype of being clueless and uninvolved. I remember getting my undies in a bunch a few weeks ago and arguing with Proud Papa over it in particular. I have to say that in the last few days I have had some experiences that made me realize that this problem is way more widespread than I had ever realized, and now I totally understand where you are coming from. This weekend we spent some time with two couples where the women were so judgmental and dismissive of their husbands as fathers, second guessing everything they did with the kids. It was infuriating! And at the end of last week I happened to have two drs appts and picked up some mainstream parenting and "womens" magazines in the waiting room and a couple of the articles were so horrendous, written with the total assumption that dads are generally clueless and removed and it's up to the women to "educate" them and force them to get invovled. It was so offensive. I (obviously) don't subscribe to any of these types of magazines and I was honestly appalled by the tenor of the articles. No wonder you get mad when it's implied that all men are uninvolved or clueless. I would too (or will, I should say).

Anyway, like I said, I know this is totally off topic but I felt like I owed an apology to Proud Papa and others for criticizing their reactions in the past and today seemed as good a day as any for it.

Posted by: Megan | July 3, 2006 12:27 PM

Dear considering single parenthood,
I know you didn't want comments about your decision, but I just wanted to say "good for you!" You seem like a mature person. You know what you want in life and are carefully considering the consequences of adoption on your life.

I think others have articulated very well some of the considerations of having children, being single and dating. I like what one poster said about befriending another single mother and spending Friday nights together or sharing time taking care of each other's children. I'm sure there are communities of single parents where these issues can be discussed and can provide a social sphere of like-minded and same-life-experience people.

Good luck!

Posted by: Proud feminist mother | July 3, 2006 12:28 PM

Harsh, harsh, harsh. Ok, let's stay away from the term "judgmental." How about "picking apart the author's life instead of talking about the issue she is trying to discuss"? It's a 300-word essay, for cripes' sake; we can't possibly know enough to form a sound judgment. I think it's horrid that people are far more interested in tearing her down than in talking about the issue. Is this blog now only for perfect people, who have never had sex outside of marriage, who've never picked a loser, who've never seen things in retrospect that they wish they'd realized earlier? Because I sure don't know any.

On the actual topic of today's discussion: dating is a tough issue for single parents. My mom was in a pretty similar position to the author's: she got pregnant with me in college, got married (because it was the "right" thing to do), but then couldn't hold the marriage together, and my dad left when I was very young. Bad judgments, mistakes, the lot -- then stuck trying to make the best of the situation (while surrounded by a lot of people who sound a lot like the folks contributing to this blog). She didn't listen to the crew who said a single mom shouldn't date. She was very pretty and popular, and frankly, she also needed a break from me, to remember that she was a young woman as well as a mom. But her priorities had changed: she put her dates' potential as a parent above a lot of other things, and anyone who didn't measure up got the quick boot.

I am hugely glad she chose to date. If she had stopped dating because of me, I would have grown up without my stepdad and step-brother and -sister. I would have had no sense of what a good marriage looks like (30 years and counting), of how loving spouses interact on a day-to-day basis, of how work and home get balanced, etc. I wouldn't have had the example my stepdad set to help me understand what makes a good husband and father.

It's funny -- as a kid, I always thought I wanted a guy kind of like my dad (who, since he was mostly absent, I almost mythologized into some larger-than-life figure). But after I got engaged, and my future husband started hanging out with my family, I suddenly realized that without even consciously trying, I had found someone much more like my stepdad (down to not being able to carry a tune in a bucket). And that has been one of the greatest gifts my mom gave me.

Posted by: Laura | July 3, 2006 12:29 PM

Proud feminist mother, I agree with you. But that won't stop be from being inflammatory.

Women have more power (the contraception, money, job opportunity, etc) but many of the women here (from my take on it) still blame the man for the out-of-wedlock situation. Many of the men here (from my take on it) are telling the women "You got the power you want, now take the responsibility that comes with it." There is NO reason why a woman should get pregnant "by accident" (other than rape, etc.) If he won't wear a condom, close your legs. If you're worried about one method not working, go get a second method (diaphram, pill, patch, implant, etc). You've got the power, use it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2006 12:33 PM

Considering single parenthood:

First, best of luck on this venture! You can date and still make your child a priority. The key is letting your potential mate know that your child is your priority (it should be self-evident, but...). Some men can accept this, but other men will not want to share your attention with your child. As FO2 pointed out, this is a personal preference, and it's better to know up front. And certainly you will want to choose someone who is child-friendly.

I also agree that it's a good idea to keep your child away from your boyfriend until you know that this will be a long-term relationship.

And keep in mind you will need a babysitter for business travel, for emergencies and for any social activity, not just dating. Start building your support system now. I moved to Arizona where I did not know a soul. It's challenging.

Again, best of luck. Being a mother is incredibly rewarding. I could not imagine my life without my daughter.


Posted by: single western mom | July 3, 2006 12:37 PM

I have a completely different point about Rachel: She is likely misrepresenting herself in her photo in her online dating profile.

How do I know? Because her five-year-old daughter noticed it: "But it [the headshot] doesn't look like you, Mommy."

If Rachel continues to post a misleading picture of herself, even after the discrepancy has been pointed out to her, then she has some issues that clearly need resolving.

From the mouth of babes....

Posted by: Skepticality | July 3, 2006 12:48 PM

Okay, let me see if I get this straight.

1. Rachel is irresponsible. She is dealing with her situation as best she can without making any excuses, supporting her kid and trying to get on with her life. What a crime.

2. Her situation is all her fault and she should have to pay for it by suffering for the rest of her life. The father who walked out on his kid bears no responsibility in this? Nice. Living a monotonous and routine life of work and chores. Great environment to raise a kid in. They always thrive with one-dimentional, bitter, depressed parents, don't you know.

3. She focusses too much time on her "hobbies", going so far as to make "binders". Exactly how long does it take you people to set up a file? 10 seconds to pick a binder, tabs and paper up at the store while shopping, a couple of minutes a day to print stuff out, punch holes in it and stick it in the book? Oh, the humanity! Last I checked, being organized SAVED time, helping her to pursue dating, while still taking care of her child. It's called efficiency and organization. Try it.

4. She should focus every waking moment of her life on her child, never taking her eyes off him or her EVER or doing anything else. Period. Dot. End of story. Right. Like any of you would or could do that. Not to mention it sounds like an amazingly good way to create a neurotic, spoiled and lazy kid with no ability to amuse themselves or figure anything out alone. Plus, that will be one SUPER happy teenager some day.

5. Clearly, since she cannot go back in time and undo the mistakes she acknowledges she made, the best thing she could have done was abort the child or place it for adoption? Whoa there, hoss! Where in this article did she say she was abusive, resentful or angry with this child? She's talking about going out on dates and having some kind of social life (which might some day result in a happy marriage, which could bring her back into the realm of those who deserve to be alive, right?). If she was unhappy being a parent, then fine, adoption is certainly a noble option, but nowhere in here does she indicate that! People jumping to that conclusion might be telling us more about themselves than Rachel!

Boy, I'm so glad we have you folks around to guide us. If we had to live our own lives without your approval, we might actually be happy and productive! Whew!

Posted by: Jim | July 3, 2006 12:49 PM

What woman would get involved with a bipolar alcoholic, get pregnant, not have the legal bind of marriage to track his income down for child support and stop working?? Heck, the left-wing media must give tons of mommy time. Working for Time, Inc. is akin to working for Castro's inner circle. I hope all men east and west of the Mississippi River read this woman's name and run the other way. I am glad I didn't have my kids until I was 30 because I was a self-absorbed career woman. As you get older, you realize how to balance better, and you become less superficial. You even tend to not procreate with losers.

Posted by: Karen | July 3, 2006 12:51 PM

A couple of posters suggested that Rachel should have put her daughter up for adoption. I disagree. Unfortunately, being an adopted child raises its own set of issues. Many folks who work in the adoption field are now saying that the best parents for any given child are the parents who brought him or her into the world if they're at all capable of appropriate parenting. Rachel's daughter has a mother and extended family of biologically related people who love her. Why would adoption have been a better choice?

Posted by: what Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage | July 3, 2006 12:52 PM

I think the thing that I've learned from reading this horrible blog today is that if I ever end up as a single parent and want to discuss my dating situation with strangers, I will absolutely refuse to reveal anything to them about how I ended up a single parent. I will let "Through no fault of my own...", or "By God's will and blessing..." suffice for explanation, and then hope to get a useful discussion started.
I wish the author well, and will certainly keep what she has written in mind when interacting with single parents in my own circle.

Posted by: rumicat | July 3, 2006 12:59 PM

I'm 30s single and don't have kids. I know certain things about the kind of person I would want to be with. He wouldn't have kids or be in the military - but neither of those things are wrong or bad, and neither am I for thinking it. I know I can't move around enough to be a military wife - I just know that I need the roots of finding one place and sticking to it. Similarly, I know i do not want children and would not make a good parent. I read this blog out of a benign interest in raising children and to hope to relate to my family and friends that have kids. However, I would be doing a disservice to a father if I dated him - even if I was very attracted on every level to him - if I couldn't be the best person for his kids. A parent desserves someone who loves them AND their kids completely.

Posted by: not dating single dads | July 3, 2006 1:13 PM

Who said the stigma for single parenthood has gone away? I'm a 36-year-old single professional financially-secure woman who would love to have/adopt and raise a child...but I can't get past the "stigma." I fear being seen as yet ANOTHER single black woman with a kid out of wedlock. I had been telling myself that it didn't matter, what matter is that I was in a position to love and provide for a child, husband or no husband, but after reading the comments here, I'm just...sad. Thanks all.

Posted by: Siighhh | July 3, 2006 1:25 PM

With children I find it difficult enough to date my wife, but I'll throw my two cents into the viper pit.

Today's question class had something to do with when to date after having a child. A bi-furcated question: When to date after having a child AND when to date after dating a bipolar drunk are two different topics.

I am not sure I was "ready for dating," "ready for marriage," or "ready for kids," but I am not "ready to die" yet either so I'll just keep on keepin on. Like a bird that flew. Tangled up in Blue.

Good luck Rachel, sounds to me like you have agood heart and I hope that you find happiness. I respect that you take reponsibility for your decisions.

A future possibly with a husband and possibly not? I am not sure what you're looking for, but if you a looking for a soul mate look for a good sense of humor, and avoid the selfish lunks that American culture idolizes. Find a team player, a musician, somebody who can do laundy and shop while your at it. Then write us back and tell us what you find.

How do I explain to my children that my wife and I still, we still er... ? Not yet.

Had my birthday and in-laws watch the three lit'luns for us. Taking the kids to the pool was an interesting hangover cure. I had no idea that pool water splashed so loudly...

Posted by: Fo3 | July 3, 2006 1:33 PM

Considering single parenthood writes:

"I am a single woman, and I'm considering adopting a child alone. WHY?"

(She then lists reasons such as "I've always wanted to be a mom", "I really enjoy children", "I have a lot to give", etc.)

It's always a good thing that you know why you want to have children.

But, if you'll pardon my opinion, you're setting yourself up for heartache.

You are basically describing a life of giving and self-sacrifice, and while this is entirely noble, this approach gets old pretty quickly and you run the risk of this becoming unsustainable as a key motivation for your fundamental life choices.

It's not in the least bit surprising that you're having trouble reconciling your desire to give of yourself with a sense of wanting to receive in your life too.

To help light your path, be utterly, starkly honest with yourself, and ask yourself some hard questions. For example:

1. Would working with other people's children, e.g. on a casual, voluntary, semi-professional, or professional basis, satisfy your urge to give of yourself? Why, or why not? Have you actually tried it to check the validity of your initial answer?

2. If giving of yourself is indeed your primary motivation, have you considered, in a genuine and serious way, helping needful adults, e.g. the mentally handicapped or those less fortunate than you? Have you actually tried it to check the validity of your initial answer?

3. As an adoptive parent, the most hurtful thing you could ever say to your child (in the future) is "My life would have been so much better if I had never adopted you", or variations on this theme. Of course, you would never say such a thing, right?

Well, to test the validity of that assertion, have you in your life so far, a track record of making resolutions to never, ever do something, and then stuck with that resolution, even if the going got impossible?

4. Do you have your financial and emotional act together? Do you have a support structure in place? E.g., how would to you and your future adoptive child cope, if your health dramatically declines (cancer, car accident, etc)?

5. What happens if you adopt a child and find out later the child has mental or physical health issues that were not disclosed to you when you adopted?

6. Etc etc etc.

These are indeed hard questions, and perhaps unfair ones. But it is precisely because you don't have (and potentially don't want) the fallback of a partner or husband that you need even more to ask these types of questions.

You're taking on an awesome responsibility on your shoulders alone and without any backup, and if you are indeed going to proceed, you will need more than a primal need to give of yourself to sustain yourself and your child on this most difficult life path.

At the very least, you should proceed with caution: with your eyes open and your mind aware of the pitfalls, and joys, of the road ahead.

Good luck.

Posted by: Skepticality | July 3, 2006 1:36 PM

I have a very good friend, a single mom, who got pregnant last year when her BC failed. She's now raising her new daughter alone (father has no interest in marriage and is only grudgingly helping her with the baby) and is doing the best she can. She is a very intelligent, hard working woman, wholly devoted to taking care of her children, and were I single would have no problem at all in asking her out.

Those of you making your little judgement calls on Rachel need to get a clue; there are plenty of ways for a woman to find herself single and a mother, and they should never feel that their social life must forevermore be nonexistent.

Posted by: John | July 3, 2006 1:39 PM

I don't date men who have children and I think this is information that should be presented up front, because, I don't date men who have children. Here's why: if you are a great dad, you don't have the time for me that I would require as I don't don't want to cut out V-Day hearts on V-Day, or go to Chuckie Cheese when I could be at Ardeo or whatever. And, if you aren't a great dad, why would I want to date you? My parents divorced and my mom dated and it set an example for me -- dates pick you up, dates hold your coat for you, dates open doors for you, dates bring flowers etc. No one ever spent the night in our house (my mother specifically told me that she was the only moral example my brother and I had so she had to conduct herself accordingly) and, unless it happened when we spent time with our grandparents, I don't remember her staying out overnight. I do, however, remember my father moving in with a woman and living with her for 10 years without benefit of wedding or paperwork. So, there you go.

Posted by: Honestwithmyself | July 3, 2006 1:46 PM

To Honestwithmyself,
I actually respect that. I think one of the saddest things about getting being a single parent is having a boyfriend or girlfriend who wants to be a priority over the child/children. I have known more than one single parent who unwisely paired up with someone who just tolerated the kids, and who competed with the kids. As a parent, my advice is that the kids always have to be the priority. You have a right to date, but if you choose a long term companion, they have to understand and accept that the kids come first. If they don't, they should be history. And to people dating single parents, don't unless you can accept that you and your needs are second to the children's. If you do not wholeheartedly want what is best for the kids, then remove yourself from the situation and do not get involved with people who already have kids.

Posted by: Rockville | July 3, 2006 2:01 PM

Whew, finally, some normal men out there. Bless you, FO3, John and Jim. I knew you were out there. I was worried for a minute there, but now I can sleep tonight.

Posted by: Rockvillle | July 3, 2006 2:05 PM

There's a clear concensus here that all children brought into existence in a manner everyone doesn't agree with have no right to exist.

Honestly people, when are the prudes going to realize that adults have sex. They always have. They always will. Obviously, it's not always in the best of circumstances. For example, Lot's daughters got him drunk before sleeping with him. Abraham's wife Sarah slept with a king in a foreign land because Abraham claimed she was his sister. David slept with Bathsheeba though she was married after watching her bath and before killing her husband.

Rachel conceived a child in a committed monogamous relationship with a man suffering from not one but two illnesses. Now she is committing the abominable sin of finding a good person to serve as her companion in life and contribute to the raising of her child. The good news is that she told her story so some of you can feel better about yourself by condemning her for performing an act performed by 12 billion other people to populate the earth.

She wrote a book with the intention of helping others. You just wrote a nasty blog post condemning her. Frankly, I'll take her over many of the people here any day.

Posted by: Sander | July 3, 2006 2:10 PM

'There is NO reason why a woman should get pregnant "by accident"'

Now the morons think they are experts. Please get the facts! Condoms break, diaphragms have something like a 3% failure rate (that's three pregnancies out of 100 attempts) and people even get pregnant while taking birth control pills correctly.I read somewhere that half of pregnancies are unplanned. The only sure way to avoid pregnancy is to avoid intercourse. How many of you judgemental jerks are willing to do that!?!

Posted by: experienced mom | July 3, 2006 2:12 PM

It's absolutely horrifying how many people are willing to condemn Rachel Sarah for the temerity of dating as a single mom (and for being a single mom) with nary a mention of her daughter's dad, who ABANDONED his young daughter.

Posted by: Helaine | July 3, 2006 2:20 PM

experience mom, you're the moron now. If you had bothered to keep reading (or do you edit what you read to make a point?), you would see that I wrote "If you're worried about one method not working, go get a second method (diaphram, pill, patch, implant, etc). "

Yes, no ONE method is 100%. However, multiple methods used CORRECTLY are 100%. Diaphrams fail because of improper (i.e. too horny to do it right) insertion. The pill fails due to "oops, forgot a day" or even "oops, forgot 2 hours ago."

"I read somewhere that half of pregnancies are unplanned" (nothing like quoting hearsay). Unplanned does NOT mean contraception failed. It includes "We didn't mean to get pregnant even though we didn't use contraception." Two horny people failing to use (not "use correctly" but plain old "use") contraception can create an unplanned pregnancy.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2006 2:23 PM

viper pit is right. And I agree with Leslie's theory. These folks are just bent out of shape cuz they have to work today, and venting on this blog is just an easy way to get frustrations out. A kind of verbal punching bag.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2006 2:28 PM

"However, multiple methods used CORRECTLY are 100%."

No, they're not. The failure rate may be in the hundredths or even thousandths of a percent, but it still exists, and there are people out there who can attest to that fact. Only abstinence works perfectly - and let's face it, that's about as realistic an expectation as never encountering any mishaps despite careful preparation.

Of course, all of this is off-topic anyway.

Posted by: I'm no MD, but... | July 3, 2006 2:31 PM

2:23, who ever you are, you sure have a way with words. since you know everything, please explain how my daughter was conceived when I was using a diaphragm, which was properly inserted, because I always checked it afterwards. You actually didn't say to use the second method at the same time as the first method. You are correct that multiple birth control methods used simultaneously are more effective than any one method. You don't have to insult me to prove your point.

Posted by: experienced mom | July 3, 2006 2:32 PM

Of course, all of this is off-topic anyway.

Actually, I thought this was on topic, to refute the holier than thou jerks who think Rachel could have avoided pregnancy outside of marriage, but didn't.

Posted by: experienced mom | July 3, 2006 2:35 PM

I do not know who these people are today, clearly not enough work to do on the day before the 4th. These holier-than-thou attitudes are neither insightful nor helpful, they are simply mean-spirited.

I think it sounds like Rachel is doing the best she can, she is putting her daughter first and she is working on having an adult life as well. Good luck.

Posted by: Another DC Mom | July 3, 2006 2:39 PM

Cal, saying that you weren't "castigating" Rachel is not tenable. In your first post alone, you came up with "pathetic," "troublesome," "deeply, weirdly obsessed," and "sadly self-absorbed."

It's because you dumped all that invective on her that you owe us an accounting of your experiences as a single parent, as a measure of your credibility. You judge Rachel as at fault for having failed to figure out her boyfriend's instability before getting pregnant, but what's your story? How did your relationship with your son's mother fail? What did you do wrong?

You're telling Rachel what she needs to do to overcome her "lack of awareness" before she should start dating again. Did you follow your own advice about dating after your own marriage failed? Did it work? Did you How did your son turn out? Did you do everything possible to see to it that he had a loving relationship with his mother? How is his relationship with you and with his mother today?

Of course you're not obligated to answer these questions, but if you don't, it opens you up to suspicion that you're venting to Rachel because you're angry about how your own relationships turned out.

Also, blaming Rachel for the father's absence (telling her to do more to make the father a part of the child's life when there is nothing more she can do -- he's gone -- is blaming her) is really rather hostile and further suggests that perhaps your writing reflects your anger over your own circumstances.

Posted by: Tom T. | July 3, 2006 2:41 PM

Experienced mom,

"You don't have to insult me to prove your point."

Um, you are the one who called me "moron". If you don't want to be insulted, don't insult others.

"You actually didn't say to use the second method at the same time as the first method."

What I said was "If you're worried about one method not working, go get a second method (diaphram, pill, patch, implant, etc)." The use of the phrase "second method" obviously implies "in addition too." Replacing a method with another one would be "different method". Just like a skydiver has a main parachute at the "first" method of survival and the backup chute as the "second" method. A "different" method would be big springs on the shoes to bounce.


And to "no MD..", failure rates quoted on packaging/literature includes the percentage of failure when used improperly (even an "improperly" used condom can work). Studies (which I can't find online at this time) have shown that the failure rates are significantly lower when counting only when used properly. When adding additional methods simultaneously, the failure rate was statistically NOT different from zero.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2006 2:47 PM

Now now, - one set of facts please. Not that it matters too much - but just to caution the assumptions of the fundamentalist judgmentalistas out there:

The father walked out the door Thanksgiving 2000. We have been given no more facts about the circumstances, including, I caution, whether or not Mr Bi-polar knew he had concieved a child.

We also dont know if Mr Chemical-Dependancy was clinically bi-polar, ADHD, manic depressive or other, and drank like a frat-boy president or Chappaquidick chauffeur we all know and love or was a mean-abusive drunk who drank until passed-out.

In my judgement, we do know that RS made her choices, writes eloquently about them and cares for her daughter. She has retained her sense of humor. Maybe we should emulate her actions, but I dare say they are rife with teaching points.

Life doesnt seem to have alot of do-overs, same seats or not its.

Planning aint all its worked up to be either.

But once having thrown caution to the wind even the most stubborn tend to piss to leeward.

Posted by: Fo3 | July 3, 2006 2:54 PM

Laura, Single Western Mom, Rachel, and Considering Single Parenthood -

A lot of married moms have daily lives quite similar to single moms...I have a working mom friend with three kids whose husband leaves the house every morning before 6 am and doesn't return until after 8 pm. Another with two young kids has a husband who works in another country and is home only for short vacations a few times a year. Yes, these men contribute financially, which is obviously important, but not in any other ways. So it seems to me that single motherhood is on the spectrum of what our society accepts as completely normal parenting...

On my block there are five single moms, two by choice with adopted daughters. Some of them date and some just don't seem that interested, like it's just not a priority right now. I think it would be weird to have a formal "I WILL NOT DATE" policy as a single mom. Wouldn't it send a strange message to your child/ren, that moms can't have love and romance and companionship in their lives? There is definitely a downside to NOT dating if you are a single mom, especially if one does it "because it's best for the child." Because it's hard to see how it's best for the child, forever, for her mom not to date if she wants to.

Also, I am STUNNED by the stigma (evidenced by the angry, wacky posters today) against single moms. I simply had no idea. I am sorry that some people are so judgmental about other people's lives, especially people who are giving so much of themselves to children, with little support. It's ridiculous.

Posted by: Leslie | July 3, 2006 2:57 PM

Poor choice of father, poor choice of protection -- whatever!! All of that besides the point!!! The "mistake" is made, the child is here, Rachel is raising her as best as she can while also trying to navigate the rest of her life. I would love to meet the children of the people who stare at them every minute of every day and make them the center of their lives. Sure that kid is well-adjusted and emotionally healthy. Did anyone read the recent story about the parents who were crippling their kids because they couldn't back off and let them just BE??

Posted by: What's the point?? | July 3, 2006 2:58 PM

I wonder if all the men on here who are blaming women for unplanned pregnancies(like it's a passive act) are abstaining from sex so they don't have the unintended consequence of creating a child? And if these men unexpectedly became a single parent, would they give up dating?

We have a few single dads who post here frequently...have you given up dating?

And let's put this dating thing in perspective a bit. At least those of us who are professional, educated women dedicated to making a good life for our children aren't hooking up with boyfriends who beat our babies to death. That's epidemic here in Arizona, and this occurs almost exclusively with young mothers (under 25) who are socioeconomically disadvantaged. We had this happen again two weeks ago, and a reporter wrote that children living in these situations are EIGHT times as likely to die of abuse or neglect than children not living with mommy and loser boyfriend.

Again, just a little perspective here, folks.

Posted by: single western mom | July 3, 2006 2:58 PM

Skepticality, you do recognize that all of your five questions, as well as your point about a life of giving and self-sacrifice, apply to people giving birth to a child within wedlock as well? Yes, there's a spouse in that case to serve as "backup," but spouses sometimes leave or die, leaving one person to raise the child.

Posted by: Tom T. | July 3, 2006 3:00 PM

My sister raised her son by herself after her idiot of a husband got her pregnant and then realized he wasn't ready to be a dad. She never remarried and AFAIK didn't date anyone. My father raised both me and my younger brother alone after my mom was killed in a car crash. He dated and later married a divorced family friend of ours, but since both me and my brother were teens, this wasn't that big a deal for us. I realize now he was very concerned about our feelings though, and asked if it were OK with us if he got married again.

Posted by: John | July 3, 2006 3:02 PM

For all the men out there judging Rachel, I am more than a little curious where your scorn is for the bi-polar, alcoholic man who fathered a child, left, doesn't pay child support, and doesn't pay child support?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2006 3:19 PM

I went to Rachel's websight where she promotes her book and cut and pasted a few excerpts from a Q & A session. Here are a few statements on what Rachel had to say:


Q: "What are the life lessons you've learned by dating?
A: Single Mom Seeking [Rachel's book] shows how burnt-out and cranky single parents can be; but it also celebrates our self-determination -- not to mention the juicy sex.

Q: "What are the life lessons you've learned by dating?
A: I've learned the hard way that you can't introduce your kid way too early in a relationship; or impulsively invite him over for the night, and then sneak him out the
door at daybreak.

Then the question on this blog becomes when is it OK for a single mom to begin dating? The real question is when is it OK for a woman who has already had a child out of wedlock to start having "Juicey sex" outside of a committed relationship? I dare any regular poster to answer that one and post your name to it.

I can certaintly see why a few men are posting their judgemental comments...

And when you critesize somebody for being judgemental, you yourself are being judgemental yourself. especially when you use terms like jerk, ass, nitwit, and moron and worse yet, you throw in the element of hypocrisy all at the same time that you are complaining about the nastinest of this blog. I love it!

I do have one question though. What's wrong with a single mother telling her pre-school daughter that she's going on a date?

Posted by: My First Post Today | July 3, 2006 3:20 PM

and the last one should read - and doesn't have any contact with his child.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2006 3:21 PM

The real question is when is it OK for a woman who has already had a child out of wedlock to start having "Juicey sex" outside of a committed relationship?

I would say the answer to that is when the woman is ready, and when the child is not affected by the sex. On a night when the child is not at home, for example, would work. Or are you saying that single mothers only deserve bad sex?

Posted by: Rockville | July 3, 2006 3:31 PM

First Post:

So, single moms shouldn't have "juicy sex"; we should have boring, predictable, unimaginative sex? Vanilla is a flavor for my coffee, not my sex life. And a good sex life is key to a happy relationship.

In my experience, the best sex is ALWAYS in a meaningful, committed relationship. But simply based on the cut and paste you posted, I don't see where there was any indication that the "juicy sex" was in the context of a committed relationship or a one-nighter. You imposed your own conclusions, unless you failed to post something else that led to your conclusion.

Posted by: single western mom | July 3, 2006 3:31 PM

ALl those men who don't want woman to have good sex feel that way because they can't provide it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2006 3:35 PM

Geez, seems to me that there are plenty of children living with rotten married parents perhaps one or the other is having an affair outside of marriage...

Holy cow, since when does someone stop being a human being with a desire for companionship and dare I say it...sex. It's a matter of how to handle one's social situations in a mature, respectful to the child manner. I hope RS is having lots of sex. Good for her.

And, no child the age of 6 should be left alone with mommy's boyfriend. Ever. And not even if they get married, should the step-father be responsible for taking care of the child alone. For the reasons the Arizona posted above.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2006 3:35 PM

There are lots of men out there who are fully capable of taking care of a six year old child or younger child (see the "mannies" who commented on the blog last week). Yes there are losers, but there are some women losers too. To assume all men are abusive to anyone but their own children is not what I think Arizona was saying.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2006 3:40 PM

"The real question is when is it OK for a woman who has already had a child out of wedlock to start having "Juicey sex" outside of a committed relationship?"

Whenever she darn well pleases, though I certainly hope that it is at a time and place where there's no risk the child will see or hear, and that she uses protection (and that does not assume that she didn't use protection in the past, since it is never failsafe and many a child has been conceived in spite of contraception, even when used perfectly).

Posted by: Megan | July 3, 2006 3:50 PM

Leslie writes:

"I am STUNNED by the stigma (evidenced by the angry, wacky posters today) against single moms. I simply had no idea. I am sorry that some people are so judgmental about other people's lives, especially people who are giving so much of themselves to children, with little support. It's ridiculous."

I find Leslie's comment disingenuous. Shocked, shocked, are you, that a public blog would attract strong views and strong comments?

Given your experience with blogs, or at least this blog, you should know better, and if you don't know better after all this time, perhaps you might want to ask yourself why not.

Others have already posted above about the double-edged meaning of "judgemental", which (in my view) invalidates any complaint about posts being "judgemental", when in reality these posts simply express a negative opinion about something that you have a positive (and equally judgemental) opinion about.

So please dispense with the faux outrage, Leslie. You're posting on a blog, in the blogosphere, with unmoderated public comments. Get used to it.

Posted by: Skepticality | July 3, 2006 3:51 PM

Reading many of these comments is depressing. So many people pontificating without having walked in this woman's shoes. I'd love to see just how perfect their lives are away from these boards.

I got pregnant at the end of a very beautiful but painful relationship. It was unexpected, clearly, but I had to struggle with whether or not to have an abortion. I was 27 so I figured I was old enough to own up to my mistakes. The best decision I made without a doubt.

I raised my son on my own. Parents and sisters pitched in from time to time so I could continue to earn a living. I started dating after my son turned 2 but he was 11 before I found my match online. 6 years later we are still together. Dating as a single parent was a challenge and if my son didn't care for the guy that was enough for me. I told each of the guys I dated that my son came first. In our blended family this can still pose challenges from time to time. But ultimately he is my son and I have final say in discipline, period.

My son just graduated from high school and is off to Princeton in the Fall with a considerable scholarship. So in the end we managed just fine, despite people passing all sorts of judgements about me over the years.

His biological father has been trying to become part of my son's life in the last few years, but it is not going too smoothly. Why all this attention at this stage Mom, he asks, would he be as interested in me if I were in prison or not going to Princeton you think?... good question, no?

Posted by: suzkin | July 3, 2006 3:52 PM

"I think it would be weird to have a formal "I WILL NOT DATE" policy as a single mom. Wouldn't it send a strange message to your child/ren, that moms can't have love and romance and companionship in their lives? There is definitely a downside to NOT dating if you are a single mom, especially if one does it "because it's best for the child."

Leslie, my mother divorced when I was very young and always told us how she never dated for us, i.e. to protect us from creepy men etc... I have no memories of my mother hugging or kissing a man she loved. It made a huge impact on how I dealt with men and people in general. I wish my mother had dated and I wish she had found a wonderful life partner, because I think my sister and I would have grown up with a more balanced idea of what a committed, married, relationship between a man and a woman should be. Our own marriages would have been saved many rocky roads. Thank goodness we married wonderful guys.

Posted by: Working mom of two | July 3, 2006 4:03 PM

Skepticality:

Leslie wasn't commenting per sé that she was shocked these comments are appearing in a blog; we all know that people use the annonymous shield of the Internet to post outrageous things. She was addressing the larger issue of so much venom for women who are raising children on their own, under whatever circumstance.

I don't consider it shocking that so many people--particularly men--post these sorts of things. You took some ugly shots at me a few weeks back...but did not say a word about my ex-husband who abandoned his family and moved 10,000 miles away. He has yet to pay a dime in child support, and who knows when he will return to the U.S. and see his daughter again.

So, I work hard and take care of my daughter on my own, I soley provide for a decent middle class life against the odds, but according to many of the posters today, women such as me and Rachel are substandard women. Thank goodness our children don't view us in this light and understand how much we love them.

Posted by: single western mom | July 3, 2006 4:03 PM

SingleWesternMom,
Yes, your ex husband is a dud for abandoning you, moving away, and not supporting or having contact with his child. But what do you want from us? You picked him.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2006 4:06 PM

Tom T. writes:

"Skepticality, you do recognize that all of your five questions, as well as your point about a life of giving and self-sacrifice, apply to people giving birth to a child within wedlock as well? Yes, there's a spouse in that case to serve as 'backup,' but spouses sometimes leave or die, leaving one person to raise the child."

Yes, of course these questions apply to coupled parents, whether married or unmarried. As you say, the spouse or partner can leave or become disabled or die, etc.

There's no sure thing in life, and risks abound. This doesn't mean we should curl up in a ball and give up.

What it does mean is that we ought open our eyes and learn from both our own life experiences, as well as the experiences of others who have tread on similar paths before us.

Which is why it is so important (in my view) that Considering single parenthood, who is not yet a single parent, take the opportunity to look down the road a bit, before she leaps onto it.

Posted by: Skepticality | July 3, 2006 4:06 PM

"But what do you want from us? You picked him."

I would hazard a guess that she wants people to stop assuming that the fact that she did choose to be with this man absolves the man of all responsibility for his actions. Yes, she picked him, and now she is taking responsibility for the fallout of that choice. It doesn't sound like he is taking responsibility for anything. So why criticize her instead of him? Like you said, he's a dud.

Posted by: Megan | July 3, 2006 4:11 PM

Wow. In my opinion (and those are the critical words, right?), the angry and judgemental posts here are what's wrong with our country. What a shame that as we celebrate our *freedom* this Fourth, there is so much evidence of exactly how far we have yet to go. Rachel stepped up and took full care and responsibility for her daughter when the baby's father WALKED OUT on her. She started over, made a life for herself and her daughter, and continues to contribute to our society as a writer, an involved and supportive mother, and a warm human being who helps others. To me, that's what being an American is all about -- it has nothing to do with archaic concepts like "wedlock" and "illegitimate child." Wake up and smell the progress, folks, or at least take your damn value judgements and get out of our way.

Posted by: Who are you people? | July 3, 2006 4:19 PM

I have to say when I looked at the comments today, expecting an interesting discussion about what my loving, caring, responsible--not to mention brilliant-- friend *wrote* I was shocked.

I don't care if this is "the blogosphere"-- I don't think most of us come online to hurt each other. We come online to discuss issues--yes sometimes deep and personal issues-- In a *civilized* way. To those of you who felt a need to personally attack the author rather than come up with (perish the thought) your *own* things to say --in agreement or not-- about the topic I have this to say: shame on you.

Rule for thought: Never write something about a person that you wouldn't say to his/her face.

I've found that by sticking by this rule I've had many fascinating discussions, plenty heated with plenty disagreement. and I always learn something. This is not to say that I feel that I've never written something I regretted, but while following this rule as best I can I've never, ever written something I'm ashamed of.

I think most of the regular posters on this list (I've been keeping up for several weeks now) are usually level headed and truly interested in furthering discourse. Thanks to those of you who are willing to thougtfully discuss the topics brought up. I'm especially thankful that you chose to tune in on the day I posted my story :-)

To those of you who think the blogosphere is a place to attack people personally for the thrill of it and write whatever you want about anyone-- try signing your full name next time.

To all of us posters: Please, please don't let the blogosphere become a place where no one wants to share her/his stories for discussion, or pretty soon their won't be anything worth reading out here.


Best of luck Rachel-- you are a wonderful writer and person. But you don't need me to tell you that :-)

Posted by: Rebecca Kaminsky | July 3, 2006 4:24 PM

"But what do you want from us?"

How about a little less nastiness directed at responsible single moms? If it's too much effort to be kind, how about just refraining from being nasty?

Do you feel the same way about single fathers who are raising their children alone, under whatever circumstance (failed marriage/relationship, deceased spouse)? Are they substandard, too? Or are you afflicted with double-standarditis?

Posted by: single western mom | July 3, 2006 4:27 PM

Wow! Like Leslie and many others, I'm stunned by what's been said here. The anonymous person who said, a few posts above, "You picked him" may be the prizewinner for the 2006 Total Lack of Empathy Award, although he or she has some pretty stiff competition.

In addition to the level of hostility toward and lack of empathy for single mothers, we've seen a pretty high degree of ignorance about and hostility toward people who suffer from mental illness and alcoholism. Bipolar disease is not a moral failure or a character flaw; it's a severe psychiatric disorder that can be hideously difficult to diagnose and treat. As mom of 9-year old girl pointed out, even the person who is ill may not understand what is going on.

I hope there'll be another opportunity to discuss this issue. Once so much hostility appears, it's hard to get past it and back to the topic, but it's clear there are interesting, important, and probably humorous things to be said about being a single-parent---some having to do w/ dating but others concerning other topics that might be different in single-parent families and two-parent families.

Really, I am tremendously saddened by the lack of compassion and simple good sense that I've seen in today's posts. I hope the people who've written these very harsh, critical, mean-spirited posts never make a mistake or need help of any kind.

Posted by: THS | July 3, 2006 4:27 PM

To the thoughtful voice-of-reason readers here, such as "single western mom," "Father of 4," "experienced mom," "Rockville," "SS"....

Thank you. I appreciate those of you who put your judgment aside and responded here in support of raising our children in devoted and loving families. My family is unconventional perhaps, but one that values trust, respect and love.

Posted by: Rachel Sarah, Guest Blogger | July 3, 2006 4:28 PM

Single western mom writes:

"Leslie ... was addressing the larger issue of so much venom for women who are raising children on their own, under whatever circumstance."

I would respectfully disagree. Sure there some loonies and extremists posting here, but the majority of postings seem (ok, I have not counted) to offer opinions that fall into something other than "venom for women who are raising children on their own".

"You took some ugly shots at me a few weeks back...but did not say a word about my ex-husband who abandoned his family and moved 10,000 miles away."

Let me be the first to apologize - I certainly did not want my previous postings to come across as "ugly shots". Considered observations and genuine opinions, hopefully expressed cogently and possibly strongly (this is a blog, after all) - yes. But personal or ad hominem attacks? Never.

And for the record, in my view it is a moral imperative for all non-custodial parents, whether male or female, to make genuine, good-faith efforts to remain in their children's life. Your ex-husband, regardless of the differences he may have had with you or the circumstances that led to your breakup, should have tried to find a way to remain in your daughter's life.

"... according to many of the posters today, women such as me and Rachel are substandard women."

I'm not sure I understand this. What exactly do you mean by "substandard women"? No one else has used this phrase in this blog.

Posted by: Skepticality | July 3, 2006 4:36 PM

I'm so sad and surprised! I cannot believe I'm reading these comments from people that were born in a developed country,the most powerful country in the world,in the year 2006. Who are you to judge Rachel? do you know her? do you know her little girl? Do you know how she is raising her 6 year-old girl? It sounded to me that you are very unhappy, and you have to judge others so you can feel powerful and important in your life. It's hard to be a single mom, but it's also the most amazing experience of unconditional love!
you better take a look at yourself first, see how perfect you are!.. perhaps later, you won't ever dare to judge somebody that you don't even know.
because I do know her! and I know what a great mom she is!

Posted by: anothersinglemom | July 3, 2006 4:37 PM

To Rachel and the other single moms out there, I admire you more than I can say. I know your lives cannot be easy and that many of you would not choose to raise a child alone, but you're doing it, and you're doing a great job. I'm with Leslie -- I have have yet to meet the a spoiled brat who was raised by a single mom. Don't pay any attention to the nasty posters on this blog -- not everyone is so judgmental. I wish you the best of luck, because you deserve it.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | July 3, 2006 4:37 PM

Happy Fourth, Rachel Sarah,
You are an example to your child. She will learn from you how to take a tough situation and make it into a success. And good for you for trying to put together a personal life too. No child wants to be burdened by an overly needy mother. Hope you find what you are looking for.

Posted by: Rockville | July 3, 2006 4:43 PM

Skepticality -

I'll be honest - you've got some nerve. When you are a single parent by choice, you have to consider all of these factors. No matter how a person becomes a parent - married or single, natural conception, fertility treatments, or adoption - you can only plan so much. YES - I am aware that single parenthood will be a sacrifice. But parenthood is a sacrifice. Is it harder if you're single? Maybe. My parents were married until I was in college. And I would still describe my father as absent for most of my childhood - even though he slept in the same house, ate at the same table, and paid for my clothes, food, etc. A 2 parent household is not always the ideal image of a 2 parent household.

Adopting is a much more difficult way to become a parent than conception - even for a married couple. Anyone can have sex and end up with a kid (I don't mean that no one has fertility issues, just that no one is doing a home study before you get to have sex and make a baby.) YOu don't need to provide financial statements, submit to a home study, or a psychological health check before going to a sperm bank for artificial insemination. But to adopt - you have to jump through all of these hoops, and more. And most single parents adopting are either adopting older children who've been tossed around the foster care system, or adopting internationally, so add a few extra hoops.

People who choose single parenthood - especially by adoption - consider all of this. The cost of formula, because we can't breast feed if we choose to adopt an infant. The cost of diapers and day care. The cost of additional insurance, to protect income in case of illness. The changes in your personal life and how you spend your money - will you even have time to go to the gym, if you maintain your membership? Who would you call if you were too sick to care for your child? And it doesn't have to be a major illness - mabye it's just a few days with the flu.

I have volunteered as a Big Sister (with Big Brothers/Big Sisters) for 3 years. I used to teach tae kwon do to children 6-18 - and I spent plenty of time hanging out with the kids and teens between classes. I do all sorts of volunteer work. That doesn't reduce my desire to be called "mommy". If anything, it reinforces the truth - I was meant to be a mom. And at this point in my life, adoption as a single parent is possible. I'm a few years away from making the committment. And I've already read books, researched the expenses, and talked to my family about this.

Don't read a few paragrahs and assume you know it all. NO ONE DOES. I asked a simple question - how have the single parents handled dating. I got a few good answers.

I wish more people would consider the questions you posed before having children - there would be fewer kids in foster care. But as the saying goes - it takes a license to drive a car, but anyone can have a kid. Go figure.

Posted by: Considering Single Parenthood | July 3, 2006 4:44 PM

Substandard: we are not entitled to date, or we are morally inferior for (fill in the blank): having chosen the wrong mate, having normal sexual desires, taking responsibility after bearing a child out of wedlock (of course, if these mothers had an abortion, no one would know the difference).

Again, no one levels these sorts of criticisms at the single dads (thank goodness, because I have so much respect for men who are the sole support for their children).

And I beg to differ on the tenor of today's blog. It is definitely venomous, and Leslie and I are not the only ones to take note. Several people have commented on this.

Posted by: single western mom | July 3, 2006 4:47 PM

Same here about my admiration for single moms. They've got more than double the workload and a ton of criticism no matter how their single-ness happened. Every SM I know is 100% devoted to their children, and while some are still in established, non-married relationships with the father of their children, some of them are not. I don't let that color my feelings and opinions about them in the least; they are doing the best they can in a difficult situation and I support and admire them for their efforts.

Having been on the other side of that situation (as a child of a single parent), I saw first hand how hard my dad struggled to fill both roles while still trying to re-establish himself as a man socially. These women are still human and shouldn't isolate themselves socially from the rest of the world just because they have children. Sure they have additional challenges, but that doesn't mean they are insurmountable!

Posted by: John | July 3, 2006 4:47 PM

"Others have already posted above about the double-edged meaning of "judgemental", which (in my view) invalidates any complaint about posts being "judgemental", when in reality these posts simply express a negative opinion about something that you have a positive (and equally judgemental) opinion about."

Ummm, no. I don't have an opinion one way or the other about Rachel, because from 300 words, I can't possibly know enough to judge one way or the other. But seeing the really vicious attacks against her makes me (and I imagine others) feel the need to point out that, for ex., there might be perfectly good reasons why she might have fallen for this guy with no idea that he would turn out like he did.

What I find offensive isn't the opinion itself -- it's choosing to (a) use the blog to attack the author, instead of discussing the issue, and (b) resort to name-calling, personal attacks, and hurtful language to make a point instead of discussing it rationally. When someone attacks, others are naturally going to defend, and then everything gets polarized and argumentative, and no one deals with the actual subject matter. Like what happened today. Which is too bad, because the few people who have actually discussed the (purported) topic for today have had really good things to say.

Posted by: Laura | July 3, 2006 4:47 PM

[Warning: This is a rant. Please ignore if you don't like rants.]

I find it astounding that several posters here are claiming that value judgements are inappropriate, wrong, or out of context in this discussion.

To those who are objecting to value judgements: What you are really saying is that people who disagree with your own value judgements should go away and not post here. This is, in my view, fundamentally misconstrues the nature of this medium. (More on this in a moment.)

But first, please don't fool yourself into thinking you yourself are somehow being value-neutral. You are not, because you do have opinions, and you do embody value judgements within those opinions.

And it is just plain wrong (in my view) to think, as one poster above implied, that freedom in the USA in 2006 means that we should refrain from expressing our opinions or judgements. Hardly!

The First Amendment enshrines the right to freedom of expression, and nothing could be more American, or consistent with freedom, then to express your point of view on a controversial subject in a public forum designed for that very purpose.

Lastly, to get back to the nature of this medium:

I would respond to all those who want a warm, supportive, nurturing environment for single parents. Such supportive environments do exist - e.g. in a counselor's office, among like-minded people at in your neighborhood or community, in a moderated forums, a closed mailing list, your hairdresser or bartender, etc.

This blog is none of these. Here, in the full glare of public opinion, all the contradictory cross-currents of our society clash on a regular basis. Ideas are being discussed, turned inside and out, analyzed and criticized and synthesized -- and a general cacophony results. Strong words may be used, due in part to the nature of the medium, and in part to the controversiality of the subject, and also in part to the intensity and insensitivity of some of the participants.

But what shouldn't be lost among all this chaos is that there is a real test of the ideas that are being raised here. If you want your own ideas to be challenged, scrutinized, tested, and squeezed from all points of view, then a public forum such as this is one way to do it.

If your ideas can survive the scrutiny of your harshest critics, then your ideas have gained something, and we've all gained something.

Case in point: Does anyone remember that Salary.com "study" and online chat a few weeks back about how much stay at home moms should get paid? There was nothing scientific about that "study", and sure enough the cumulative discussion in this blog ripped up into shreds that idea. And that was a good thing, because that "study" deserved to be exposed for the publicity stunt that it was.

So please do not assume that strong opinions expressed here mean that people hate you. Have a thick skin if you post here, and look elsewhere for supportive environments. Do look here if you want your ideas tested in the full light of day.

Lastly, let us not pretend to not have values or judgements - we all have them, even if we have different ways of expressing them.

Posted by: Skepticality | July 3, 2006 5:03 PM

I've read Rachel Sarah's column on her website. She's a good writer and, apparently, a good mom, with a well-adjusted child who is well-loved and with multiple supportive people in her life, including grandparents on the father's side.

Not much information appears on father. I'm sure he did not have a sign on him that read, "Bipolar, alcoholic" when she fell in love with him.

I would say, people with bipolar disorder are still God's children. It's a terrible disorder, very difficult to treat, very destructive to people in this person's orbit. Some people with bipolar disorder do come under control, and some are physicians and other productive members of society. Some people do not come under control and they self-destruct.

I think mom and child will do fine. I think father may not do fine. He's the one I would worry about.

Posted by: Madison | July 3, 2006 5:09 PM

I'm a 45 year old man (divorced, no kids) and I'm dating again. I'm not perfect, but I know my shortcomings well. There are a lot of single mothers out there. I think everyone should deal with the last relationship before starting another, but how long to wait will vary according to the man or woman. Most single mothers I've met describe the father as a "jerk", or worse. (Such as a bi-polar alcoholic.) I always change the subject when this comes up. I really don't need to hear it. You've had a child with a bad man - that will happen. But don't say that I've got no right to make a judgement! Don't my opinions and my needs matter? Hey, personally I don't care if you've made bad choices,so long as you own up to them. Life is a learning process, and if it looks like you've learned from your life's experiences, I'll give you a fair chance. Still, it seems like it was always a hot guy, and she was young, and in love, and wanted to make things work... I've seen that women have selective blindness where men are concerned. I'm so thankful that this selective blindness situation tends to change somewhat in their late 30s and 40s, and children tend to hasten that wisdom concerning men. In some ways, single mothers are more mature and realistic than women without children! That doesn't mean I'm not cautious. Romance is wonderful, but the perfect woman or the perfect man does not exist. The best we can do is form a clear set of criteria for what we want and look for a good match. People with standards tend to date a better class of man or woman. Rachel never mentions what she's looking for!

Still, I don't think anyone gets a free pass for having children with a loser like Rachel did. That was a CHOICE. What I don't know is - has she learned from the consequences of that choice? I don't blame her for dating again, but I hope she's learned more about birth control and emergency contraception methods. We are not all choirgirls and choirboys. We are not perfect. Having a child isn't always the smart thing to do when faced with an unplanned pregnancy.

Finally - don't criticize others for being judgemental - we all have that right. When you do that you're trying to shout down legitimate opinions that you don't agree with. Instead of shouting down others for stating opinions, why not try reasoning out an opinion of your own? It just shows that it's much easier to shout down others than reason out a response on your own.

Posted by: Dating | July 3, 2006 5:18 PM

So many haters!...
No wonder the world is succumbing to evil!

Life is not 100% predictable! Haters, keep that in mind! Although one can make choices in life - those choices do not always end up being the best. Life is all about dealing with the cards that God provides you with!

I think that Rachel is doing a great job, juggling all aspects of her life- taking care of her child as well as herself! And who says that once you have a child you have to stop caring for yourself and stop aiming at what makes life more pleasurable, e.g. having a career, and as in Rachel´s case - a good man by your side?!

C'mon! It's 2006!


Posted by: DC20009 | July 3, 2006 5:18 PM

"I have a completely different point about Rachel: She is likely misrepresenting herself in her photo in her online dating profile."

Actually, when my 3 1/2 year old sees me dressed up with make-up, and my gair done really nicely, she doesn't think I look like me either. My home look, being a SAHM, part-time telecommuter, is minimal make-up and a pony tail most of the time.

Luckily, I found the comment, "you don't look like you, you look so pretty" hilariously funny when she said it.

Posted by: Robin | July 3, 2006 5:22 PM

Dating:

My ex-husband has been diagnosed as both bipolar and an alcoholic, but I don't hate him, and I don't call him a jerk. I spoke with him last night. Maybe you have no idea what it's like to watch someone you love suffer from either mental illness or drug/alcohol addiction. It's heartbreaking, and you feel like you are abandoning someone if you walk away. Even worse if they are suicidal and they carry through.

It's not a judgment; it's a statement of the afflictions my ex-husband still suffers from. I sincerely hope he gets treatment someday, and I will always wish he had done so earlier. And I will always love him.

Posted by: single western mom | July 3, 2006 5:27 PM

Considering single parenthood writes:

"I'll be honest - you've got some nerve."

"Don't read a few paragrahs and assume you know it all. NO ONE DOES."

"I wish more people would consider the questions you posed before having children - there would be fewer kids in foster care."

I have to confess that I'm baffled why you think I had some nerve or am a know-it-all, when it appears that you actually agree (at least in principle) with the type of questions I raised and in fact even provided some pretty darn good answers to those questions.

But I will nevertheless apologize to you, because it seems my word choices and overall tone offended you. If my post came across as a personal attack, please know that it was not.

Best wishes to you in your efforts. As I wrote previously, it's always good to know what you want, and why you want it.

Posted by: Skepticality | July 3, 2006 5:27 PM

Single Western Mom - Thanks, you continue to present a 360 degree view of life, relationships and humanity.

Posted by: Leslie | July 3, 2006 5:30 PM

Rachel - in decribing today's postings to my husband (who I met, dated, and married as a single mom - the first date was a HUGE leap of faith for many, many reasons), it occurred to me that we chose our friends because they are thoughtful, intelligent, open-minded, non-judgmental, loving people. Sufice it to say that we'd rather count you among our friends than many, many of the people who have posted here today. Good luck, keep your humor, and there really are nice people (including men) out there. Maybe someday we can return to the topic as it was intended. Oh, and for new readers, this blog is not normally so hostile. We may disagree, but there are not generally so many personal attacks. I'm still trying to figure out what started the downward spiral today. I think the adage may be true, it takes one bad apple ...

Posted by: SS | July 3, 2006 5:32 PM

Single western mom writes:

"Substandard: we are not entitled to date, or we are morally inferior for (fill in the blank): having chosen the wrong mate, having normal sexual desires, taking responsibility after bearing a child out of wedlock (of course, if these mothers had an abortion, no one would know the difference)."

Thank you for clarifying what you meant. For the record, I disagree with and disavow each and every one of the implications that "substandard" raises in this context.

And my heart goes out to you and your ex-husband. I hope your daughter is learning compassion from her mother's attitude toward her ex-husband. I also hope that he gets the help he presumably needs and can again one day play a meaningful role in his daughter's life, and possibly in yours.

Posted by: Skepticality | July 3, 2006 5:36 PM

Leslie wrote: "A lot of married moms have daily lives quite similar to single moms...I have a working mom friend with three kids whose husband leaves the house every morning before 6 am and doesn't return until after 8 pm. Another with two young kids has a husband who works in another country and is home only for short vacations a few times a year. Yes, these men contribute financially, which is obviously important, but not in any other ways."

Spoken as a woman who has obviously never been a real single parent.

First of all, if a father is contributing financially, that automatically makes these mothers quite DISsimilar to many single parents; perhaps even MOST single parents. Many single mothers don't get an ounce of financial support from their children's fathers, either because the dad doesn't pay the court ordered child support after a divorce or because he was never around in the first place.

Second of all, in the case of a father who works from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m.: He is still there at night, he's still presumably her partner (sexually and otherwise), he's still there for emotional support, he's still there to mow the lawn on the weekends, he's still there to even take out the garbage as long as he does it at 8:30 p.m. When the baby wakes up with a 104 fever in the middle of the night or the 5 year old cracks her head falling down the stairs, the mom doesn't have to haul all of the children out of bed and take them to the ER. When she's had a horrific day she has a shoulder to cry on. She has someone to talk to about her teenager's new boyfriend or MySpace page when something seems "not right."

And even in the case of the father who works out of the country for most of the year, he's still contributing in ways other than financial. He can help make decisions about the childen's education, medical care, etc. via the phone or e-mail. The mom has a partner, albeit a distance partner, to lean on emotionally. And the children have advantages that children whose fathers aren't around don't have, because they know that dad is there, just not physically there.

Yes, the daily physical demands of parenthood (feeding, bathing, supervising, playing, chauffering, etc.) can be exhausting. But equally exhausting is knowing that you're the only one the children have, and being responsible for TRULY everything.

Posted by: btdt for real | July 3, 2006 5:36 PM

"I've seen that women have selective blindness where men are concerned. I'm so thankful that this selective blindness situation tends to change somewhat in their late 30s and 40s, and children tend to hasten that wisdom concerning men. "


Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Is selective blindness similar to selective vision? I ask because so many men seem to suffer from selective vision, permitting them to see only women who are young, thin, and attractive. Unfortunately, this condition doesn't seem to fade with time or to be limited to those who have no children. If you don't believe me, Mr. Dating, pretend you're a woman and check out what men between the ages of 40 and 60 who advertise on online dating sites say they are looking for.

Critical? Perhaps, but, as you point out, I have a right to make judgments.

Posted by: Amused by Mr. Dating | July 3, 2006 5:36 PM

"After being irresponsible in the first place by getting pregnant by her bipolar, alcoholic boyfriend, she's still too focused on being single and 'getting the guy.'"

Sounds like someone told her it's responsible to focus on "getting the male role model."

"Rachel said - 'What are you supposed to tell your little girl when you're going out on a date? I'd drop her off at a friend's house, and say, "Mommy is going out for coffee." Was it wrong to lie? '"

That doesn't even sound like a lie (assuming the date was at a café. ;)

"Any American man reading the responses from women on this blog should learn why NEVER to date American women. Feminism has ruined them."

Would you recommend that American men marry child brides instead? Allowing girls to postpone marriage until after they become adults is feminist, after all...

"You make it sound like you think the 30% of men who said they would never date a single mom are wrong. I'm sure it sucks when you find a guy that you think is great but turns out he dumps you after finding out about your kid. So, he wasn't that great of a guy."

Or he is that great of a guy, doesn't want to be a father, and doesn't want to lead you on unfairly.

"When I was dating, I didn't date large women. Does that make me bigoted and/or wrong? No, I just knew I didn't want to marry a large woman."

For that matter, I don't date women no matter how nice they are. Does that make me sexist? No.

"I fear being seen as yet ANOTHER single black woman with a kid out of wedlock."

This fear reminds me a bit of Melissa Scheiner in this article:
http://www.thejewishweek.com/bottom/specialcontent.php3?artid=5
"...A child would make her life more complete, and 'I knew if I went to China no one would accuse her of being a mamzer' says Scheiner, using the Hebrew term for a child conceived in the union between a Jewish woman and someone other than her husband. No one could wonder at an Asian child's ancestry..."
(actually, they could wonder if Scheiner had an affair with an Asian man)

"Yes, no ONE method is 100%. However, multiple methods used CORRECTLY are 100%."

No. Suppose method A has a failure rate of 5% and method B has a failure rate of 2%. The failure of both will be 5% x 2% which is 0.1%, not 0%.

"'I read somewhere that half of pregnancies are unplanned' (nothing like quoting hearsay). Unplanned does NOT mean contraception failed. It includes 'We didn't mean to get pregnant even though we didn't use contraception.'"

From what I heard the 50% is closer to a global statistic, also includes "I didn't want to get pregnant even though my parents married me off," and is less relevant to Rachel's case.

Posted by: Maria | July 3, 2006 5:41 PM

"User reviews and comments that include profanity or !personal attacks! or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site."

Goodness, over half these entries should be removed.

Posted by: Hmmm... | July 3, 2006 5:42 PM

"Such supportive environments do exist - e.g. in a counselor's office, among like-minded people at in your neighborhood or community, in a moderated forums, a closed mailing list, your hairdresser or bartender, etc.

"This blog is none of these."

The internet is none of these. Does anyone else here like Red Vs. Blue?
"Just remember, the internet can be a very scary place if you're not prepared."
"How do you recommend that they prepare?"
"I don't know, try going to your local middle school chess club. Hand out crystal meth and guns. That might be good practice."

Posted by: Maria | July 3, 2006 5:47 PM

"Still, I don't think anyone gets a free pass for having children with a loser like Rachel did. That was a CHOICE"

I find this attitude to be truly baffling. What do you mean she doesn't get a "free pass"? That she must forever be penitent and cannot move on to her life? That anyone has a right to call her an immoral, pathetic loser (like the people on this blog)?

When you see a single mother, the only thing you know is that she had sex. You don't know whether it was protected or unprotected, you don't know anything about the nature of the relationship during which the sex occured, you don't know if she had any way of knowing that the guy would flake out/die/become mentally ill. All you know is she had sex. And since an awful lot of people have sex, protected or unprotected, in and out of marriage, that really doesn't mean much. If she's taking responsibility and raising the child, that's what matters.

There are plenty of single parents who are responsible and caring towards their children, and there are plenty of married parents who are not. I just don't see why
a person's status as a single parent is seen as being equivalent with permanent moral turpitude.

Posted by: Megan | July 3, 2006 5:52 PM

"All you know is she had sex."

In fact, as the woman pondering adoption indicates, you don't even know that! So, really, keep you assumptions to yourself. You're welcome to your judgments, I suppose, but they should be based on facts and, even then, it's hard for me to see who is helped by some of the judgments expressed here today.

Posted by: THS | July 3, 2006 6:01 PM

Oh you 'shouldites' and 'shouldnotites'!

Oh, what should Rachel have done and should not have done and should do and should not do!

What a group of mealy mouthed moralists who condemn and praise! Go ahead and reveal yourselves, it is quite entertaining.

An alternative, is simply to listen and accept human reality.

Further, if the U.S. was a civilized socialist republic professional child care would be free to everyone, and people would have jobs caring for children rather than have jobs dropping bombs on them. I wonder how many single moms in Iraq are single thanks to the weapons of marriage destruction so proudly produced by our weapons manufacturers. Lots of money and glory in that business, but child care? Hey, we cannot sacrifice the dollars made in the service of mass murder for something like child care.

With free professional child care parents, single and paired and in threesomes and foursomes, would have time for work and play and for joyful parenting.

Instead we have a 400 billion dollar military budget and a false concept 'single mom'. Think about it. A 'single mom' is a socially created concept, not reality. In reality we are all part of a community, with family, friends, acquaintences, strangers, and nobody is single, it's impossible.

What 'single mom' means in reality is that we have created a concept that justifies forcing some people to do most of the necessary work of proper child raising, including the work needed for food and shelter, while others have a million dollars to spend on a third home and a big yacht.

'single mom' is only a category because capitalism atomizes society into discrete human units who, as the blog reveals, are so alienated from their own humanity they cannot simply accept a mother and child as human beings but must judge them with mental fury, the sign of a truly sick sick culture.

Kudos to Rachel for the courage to simply tell the truth of her life.

Posted by: Emma Goldwoman | July 3, 2006 6:03 PM

Wow! What a day. But, as usual, we come full circle. Whenever we start blasting one another, at the end, we come back to civil discourse.

I've said it before, single moms, you have my sympathy and support. Your situation, regardless of how you got there, is one of the toughest in the world.

As far as the dating goes, there is no reason to not start dating ASAP. But I certainly wouldn't want to date a woman who immediately introduced me to her child as if I was going to be the new daddy. Six months minimum before I would want to be introduced, though I would insist on helping out with the cost of a babysitter so that we wouldn't have that hanging over our relationship. For the sex part, only if the child was not around.

But I only came to these realizations after making the mistakes in the first place. One mother wanted me to be her chauffer to go pick up her child from the ex. Another saw me as a free babysitter. That doesn't cut it after two dates.

As for the fathers or mothers who knowingly abandon their children...they are the scum of the earth. Yes, that's a judgement, and I have nothing but vitriol for those that make no effort to support and stay in touch with their children. Stand up! Be accountable for your actions!

To paraphrase the movie Jerry McGuire:
A mother and her child. There's something holy about single mothers. You don't mess with that. Don't mess with that, Jerry.

Posted by: Working Dad | July 3, 2006 6:11 PM

"Still, I don't think anyone gets a free pass for having children with a loser like Rachel did. That was a CHOICE"

My mother married my father and by CHOICE had three children with him. He left her while the youngest was still in diapers. He moved in with another woman with whom he had 2 more children before he bothered to divorce my mother. He was a slacker in the child support department.

I often wondered why she married such a loser. I have been assured by numerous people, including my mother's sister, that he was a great guy, charming, pleasant, respectable, etc. No one suspected that he would turn into such a loser, ignore his marriage vows, and shirk his fatherly duties.

The moral to my story is that people change and even though Rachel may have chosen to have a child with this man, we don't know at what point he reached loser status.

Posted by: bjt | July 3, 2006 7:08 PM

"Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Is selective blindness similar to selective vision? I ask because so many men seem to suffer from selective vision, permitting them to see only women who are young, thin, and attractive. Unfortunately, this condition doesn't seem to fade with time or to be limited to those who have no children. If you don't believe me, Mr. Dating, pretend you're a woman and check out what men between the ages of 40 and 60 who advertise on online dating sites say they are looking for."

Glad you're amused. Too bad you're also so jaded. We're not all looking for young women. I have virtually nothing in common with a woman under 40, but I also have a problem with the kind of shrewish attitude that assumes that no man would want you if you're not "young and slim and attractive". Why the attitude? Clearly you think you're unattractive. If that's what you think - you are. If you DO think you're attractive, then you're not in competition with the younger, slimmer set are you? That would also eliminate those looking for that kind of woman from your list of potential dates. (That's a good thing.) Look for a someone who suits you. Don't be so negative.

I repeat - nobody gets a free pass for their life choices. I don't, and neither should anyone else. When you weigh the merits of a potential relationship you have to factor in that kind of life choice. You can't ignore it. You have to make judgements based on that kind of information - you have to know of how important those kinds of facts are to you. Some will see single parenthood as a stigma, and some won't. I don't see it as a dealbreaker. It depends on the individual. I don't blame single mothers for dating, but neither do I blame those who won't date single mothers for making that judgement. That's a personal decision. We are all responsible for the choices we make. We can't hide from them, or ask others to ignore them when they compare us to what kind of person they want a relationship with. That applies equally to everyone - man and woman alike. Take responsiblity and stop blaming social stigmas for dating difficulties. Relationships go a lot deeper than that.

Posted by: Dating | July 3, 2006 7:22 PM

Now, my thoughts on single parent dating, which I actually thought was the intended direction of today's blog:

I am married with 2 children. When I was still single, I didn't want to date a man who had children. If he turned out to be a neglectful dad, I wouldn't respect him; and if he were a good Dad, the child would be first priority which I wasn't willing to accept at that time in my life - selfish, I know, but better to recognize it than pretend it wasn't true.

I worked with a woman who met someone through a computer-dating service (in the 70's - pre-Internet). She said that the first date was a dinner date and he arrived with his 4-year-old daughter in tow. He did this intentionally to show that they were a "package deal", and if the woman couldn't accept the daughter, then he didn't care to proceed with a second date. That first date was presented to the daugher only as dinner with a friend, not her father's 'date'.

It was clear to my friend that she should not see this man a second time unless she was willing to accept that the daughter was first priority. When she agreed to continue to see him, they began having tradional dates, without the daughter, and she was not introduced into the daughter's life again until it was clear that the relationship was not fleeting. They actually married and my friend was a wonderful stepmother to the little girl.

So, whether you think that the date and the child should meet right away, or after a relationship has been established, be sure that the child knows that the parent-child relationship is more important than the parent-date relationship. And make that fact very clear to the prospective dates.

I think one of the easiest ways to explain to children is just to say that adults have friends, just as children do. Sometimes the friends want to do fun things together. Keep it simple, it's usually the best way.

Posted by: bjt | July 3, 2006 7:32 PM

Skeptically --

That was actually a well thought-out discussion, not what I'd call a rant. So let me rant in return.

(1) Believe it or not, I actually haven't formed a judgment on Rachel's situation, because I just don't know enough about it. That may just be me -- I'm a lawyer, so whether by nature or by training, I tend to see both sides of issues, and to want to see more facts before jumping to a conclusion. Do I have an impression, based on the facts disclosed? Yes. But I have chosen not to share it, because of what I see as the purpose of the blog (see below).

(2) Merely exercising judgment is not a bad thing. If I were a guy considering dating Rachel, I would absolutely consider the sum total of what I know of her before making that decision. But again, not here (again, see below).

(3) Below: The topic today was supposed to be about single parent dating. Not picking apart the author's life and all of the decisions that led her to this point. Criticizing the choices that led her to be a single parent is gratuitous.

(4) Yes, we all have a Constitutional right to say all of the things that have been said in this blog. But just because we have the right to be mean and hurtful doesn't mean that we should be.

(5) I agree with the need for full discourse on important issues. But I disagree with your conclusion that a free-for-all, with namecalling, survival of the fittest, etc., is the way to go about it. Light and heat are not the same. When the yelling starts, everyone competes to be loudest, and softer voices that may have something worthwhile to say get lost in the hullabaloo. Seriously, how many issues get resolved on Rush Limbaugh? And how many people like Rachel are going to continue to be willing to share their stories knowing that they are just setting themselves up to be attacked?

Yelling and meanness may get great ratings and make for good entertainment value, but they get in the way of resolving the real issues. You point to the recent discussion of the salary.com survey as evidence that this approach leads to progress; I would argue that whatever progress is made is despite the nastiness, not because of it. What about today's blog? I have seen very little discussion of the identified topic, and much more along the lines of, "no, you're a loser," "no, YOU are." As I said before, whenever someone attacks, someone else needs to defend, and then we're off to the races -- whether it's on point or not.

(6) Yes, it's the internet. But this is a relatively new blog, and it will be what we make of it. The more people resort to nastiness and personal attacks, whether it is of the author or of each other, the more reasonable people will just tune it out, and the more it just becomes more talk radio, with people talking past each other into the atmosphere. THAT is why I object to the nasty ones: not because I disagree with their opinions (frequently I do, but not always), but because I enjoy the subject matter and don't want to see it degenerate into "let's all gang up on whoever was stupid enough to write something today." I have seen blogs that are nothing more than a series of inane rants, and I have seen blogs that self-police in a way that ignores the trolls and stay on-topic. I would prefer this blog be the latter, and so I will continue to do what I can to promote reasoned discourse and staying on-topic. And in that interest, I will now stop my off-topic rant. :-)

Posted by: Laura | July 3, 2006 7:44 PM

Stopped by to read Rachel's entry -- and I am quite stunned by the nature of so many of the comments! Scary, sexist, judgmental, hurtful. If you're interested in visiting a forum for intelligent mother-writers without the venom, I suggest you come by Literary Mama - http://www.literarymama.com. Rachel Sarah has a regular column here where you can get a fuller sense of her life as a strong, wonderful mother and person.

Posted by: Ericka Lutz | July 3, 2006 8:13 PM

"(6) Yes, it's the internet. But this is a relatively new blog, and it will be what we make of it."

http://gprime.net/video.php/reallifevsinternet

Posted by: Maria | July 3, 2006 8:53 PM

Laura writes:

"The topic today was supposed to be about single parent dating... Criticizing the choices that led her to be a single parent is gratuitous."

"I have seen very little discussion of [today's] identified topic,"

"whenever someone attacks, someone else needs to defend, and then we're off to the races -- whether it's on point or not."

"I have seen blogs that self-police in a way that ignores the trolls and stay on-topic. I would prefer this blog be [this way]."

I agree with most of what you write, and for the record let me clarify that I am NOT in any way advocating namecalling, insults, ad hominem attacks, or the like as part of any robust debate.

I think it is fair game to express value judgements, whether critical or laudatory, as long as such expressions are on topic, are not ad hominem attacks, and relate to publicly disclosed actions or behavior.

In short, I too want vigorous discourse that remains on topic, and as you wrote, generates more light than heat.

Posted by: Skepticality | July 3, 2006 9:38 PM

"In short, I too want vigorous discourse that remains on topic, and as you wrote, generates more light than heat."

So, your thoughts on dating as a single parent would be...? And your experience dating as a single parent has been...?

Posted by: Just sayin' | July 3, 2006 9:56 PM

Laura,

You mention you are a lawyer who doesn't like to jump to conclusions, but you say the blog will be "what we make of it".

Who is this "we" you're referring to? You have no idea who posts here, how often they post, or what percentage of people reading are also posting.

There is no "we" that you can define and speak for. You can only speak for yourself.

You don't stop there with the unfounded assertions, either. "Yelling and meanness" get in the way of solving the real issue? Says who? Any lawyer can think of a thousand ways in which both can resolve an issue. I'm not a lawyer, so my poor untutored brain will have to stop at 500.

You assume that everyone (probably that "we" again) will agree with you that talk radio is a terrible thing to be avoided. That's a pretty arrogant conclusion from someone who says she doesn't leap to them. I suspect the Post would be very pleased to get talk radio's numbers.

You think that progress is "despite" the nastiness, not because of it? Well, for starters, who says that progress has to be made? Who are you to assume that everyone here is interested in "progress"?

Even assuming that everyone signs on to achieve "progress", how would you define it? Are you convinced that everyone agrees with you about the nature of it? For all you know, there could be 300 single mothers reading this thinking "Man, I never realized it but I *do* consistently date useless people. Maybe I should see a shrink." Or perhaps their friends are reading, thinking "Hey, Monica/Jessica/Abbey are always drawn to addicts, too. I never thought about what that might mean for her kid. Maybe I should talk to her." I would consider that progress. Would you?

No one has to sign on to your notion of "progress", either as to its nature or as a goal.

You say that the topic today was to be about single parent dating, not "picking apart the author's life". But a single parent should consider her previous relationship issues when making the decision to start new relationships. The parent's existing commitment to her child(ren) makes that a useful exercise, at least. Thus, a parent who shows no sign of having taken these issues into consideration could honestly be told that failure to do so is a very bad sign.

You may not have considered that viewpoint, but it's certainly on topic.

But, you cry, if people attack her, then how many people will "share their stories"? As the New York Times Modern Love section amply demonstrates, there are always lambs ready to post their absurd life stories and put themselves up for slaughter. Fear not.

Sign me up for every word of Skeptical's rant.

Posted by: Cal | July 3, 2006 11:07 PM

Tom, I owe you absolutely nothing, and am free to criticize any one who sees fit to post details of their lives for comment, as Rachel did. My "credibility" is based on my assertions, which were:

1) People who choose poor partners once are at risk to do so again.

2) People who group men into large notebooks and check email throughout the day and night--even when they are on a work deadline--to see if they've heard from a prospective date are obsessed.

3) People who feel "lucky to be free" of their daughter's father are putting their own needs in front of the daughter's. Children need to be with their parents, and a parent who doesn't do everything possible to find the other parent is failing in a basic responsibility. (It goes without saying that the other parent has failed.)

These are all pretty straightforward assertions, whether people agree or not, and no one needs to know the specifics of my life to decide whether or not to agree with them.

It's just as well, because I can't answer your questions anyway. I never had a wife, and it would be impossible for me to foster a relationship between my son and his mother. But my son has done exceptionally well and has a wonderful relationship with both parents, who have raised him jointly since the divorce.

And can I just say that most of you who are screaming about assumptions and judgments are making more than a few of your own?

Posted by: Cal | July 3, 2006 11:18 PM

Oh man. I was hoping to actually see a discussion on single mother dating and the issues that arise from this.

Sad debate going on here. It seems that there are a lot of comments directed to hurt single mothers. Negative comments coming from non-single mothers directed toward single mothers really are not worthy of debate as it seems that those who throw stones live in glass houses.

Now, as far as dating and single motherhood goes... I am so excited about Rachel's book! I have gone on a few dates in the last 3 years, and as a single mother, it is really difficult to open up to 'dating' again. In my view, this is NOT because of old baggage-- but really MAKING time to be an individual and adult is not easy to do when you are focused on being a positive parent 24/7.
Even married parents can relate on many levels as it is a different you after becoming a mother. And remembering that you are also a woman can often be challenging.

Yes, single motherhood can be difficult and rewarding and wonderful and painful.... Realizing that your happiness reflects in your children's lives is important. Dating, for a single mother, may be an avenue that reconnects one to what it means to be a woman, a single woman, but is also test of balancing single motherhood and single woman life.

I would love to hear other thoughts on dating and relationships as applicable to a healthy single mother's life.

Posted by: Single2Mother-Randi | July 4, 2006 1:34 AM

Happy Fourth of July. A day dedicated to the all American: "Pursuit of Happiness" ... and blowing things up.

I am interested in regress. Clearly. Ha. I note that the collective "we" is a reasonable use of the first person plural pronoun. So, thou may untwist thy knickers on that one.

Posted by: Fo3 | July 4, 2006 7:54 AM

Cal,

"It's just as well, because I can't answer your questions anyway. I never had a wife, and it would be impossible for me to foster a relationship between my son and his mother. But my son has done exceptionally well and has a wonderful relationship with both parents, who have raised him jointly since the divorce."

I know that you don't feel obligated to answer any questions, but please explain something. If you never had a wife, who exactly has been raising the child since the divorce?

Posted by: just wondering | July 4, 2006 8:09 AM

It almost sounds as if Cal had a child with a woman who was married to another man. He never had a wife and she divorced her husband and now Cal and the mother are raising the child jointly. Can't be sure, but it sure seems interesting .... hmmmmmm.

Posted by: just wondering | July 4, 2006 8:12 AM

I think the guest blogger opened herself up for criticism, when they started the "woe is me for not dating and having a relationship" pity party.

Of course, none of us are perfect; that is a middle school forensics tactic.

And, of course, accidents happen.
But we are all responsible for our actions.

We are responsible to ensure the best possible outcome (by not lying down on the
interstate and being surprised to get hit by a bus), and then by being responsible
when life's quirks come your way.

Geting involved with this person was a bad decision.
It was a bad decision not to observe their behavior (did they have a car/job/home; how were the relationships in the family between parents, parents/children, siblings).

Having sex with this person was a bad decision.
Having decided against abortion or adoption, raising child by herself with is a questionable decision.

But it was *her* decision alone, and now she is complaining about dating.

You have (correctly) decided to make your child the first priority in your life.
But then your blog posting complains about dating difficulties, which is a secondary priority way down the list after your child.

Character is simply the difference in many of these poor
life decisions, and their consequences.

Contrary to the the blog title, there is no balance in the original entry.
The scale always tips way over to the side of the child that Rachel elected to raise by herself.

Posted by: Finally | July 4, 2006 8:13 AM

Yey, thanks Rachel, for filling a niche market for information needed on how to date as a single mom - trust me, I'm one person in need of it!

My ex husband left me 3 years ago and I have a 4 year old son. I've been divorced a year, and it wasn't until the divorce was final that I gave myself "permission" to get out there again on the dating scene. Between the seperation and divorce, I did some non-serious dating which I mostly describe as my way of testing the waters to make sure I could now determine the difference between good relationship and bad relationship material.

Six months after I became a single mom I realized that no matter what, I needed time when I was not required to be anything to anybody else and should have some "me" time. oh, I've been through a revolving door of babysitters (good babysitters are very hard to come by - can we have a blog on that?!). So, I started pursuing old hobbies that would take me out of the house 1 night a week. This was laying the foundation to balancing the 24/7 responsibilities of single parenting with my own needs (which ultimately make me a better mother!).

Since I've started dating more seriously after the divorce, I do hold myself to some pretty strict rules - be upfront about being a single mother, and yes, my son is my first priority. Which means if I have to cancel last minute because my son has a fever of 104 and a guy doesn't call me back the next day because his ego's bruised, I really don't think he's "single mom dating" material.

And I keep my son totally seperate from my dating life. I haven't seriously dated anybody for more than 2 months at a time so I never got to the "meet and greet" between my son and the guy, but my general rule is first "sweep me off my feet" and if you manage to do that, then I'll decide if I think we're ready for the meeting.

Single moms have a lot on our plate, because of our life experience, we're not into tolerating a lot of bs from the dating scene, so yeah, we're probably a difficult breed to date - lol! But, we know what we want.

Somebody said "Why would any single mother be "desperate" for another man?"

Good question, Trust me, I've wondered if I could be converted to lesbianism. But since I can't, I'm desperate for intelligent companionship because I have a pretty interseting life and I think its worth sharing it with somebody....somebody who has a tolerance for the imperfection of parenthood. But, we are human (despite all the garbage that's been written on this blog today), and yes, sometimes I have been desperate for being around somebody who makes me feel attractive, who makes me feel interesting (and not because I agree to read "brown bear, brown bear" for the 20th time before bedtime), and..gasp..desperate for good sex as well.

All single mothers deserve the best out of life since they're usually the people who sacrifice a lot for other's mistakes and immaturity.

Posted by: Dating Single Mom | July 4, 2006 8:38 AM

"There are lots of men out there who are fully capable of taking care of a six year old child or younger child (see the "mannies" who commented on the blog last week). Yes there are losers, but there are some women losers too. To assume all men are abusive to anyone but their own children is not what I think Arizona was saying."

Actually, that is what Arizona is saying. Here's why-- a good number of abused children are abused by the boyfriend or husband who is not the natural father. This is a well known fact in the child abuse field and a scenario we see over and over again. I am in this field and see this again and again. It is also in the research literature. "Mannies" are paid babysitters and so are not included in this. And this is not a criticism of all men as caretakers. Men who are not the natural fathers of young children do not have a bond with that child. The child cries or behaves in such a way that is frustrating, the man loses his temper and patience and violence can happen. This is fact and supported by the evidence.

And the point is, take care when leaving your children with boyfriends, that's all.

Posted by: see it a lot | July 4, 2006 9:31 AM

Oh, good! Another day, another chance to focus on the topic at hand....

The six month rule sounds right-on to me. And I support those who urge single mom's to use caution when bringing male friends into the home.

Although I was NEVER abused by any of my single-mom's boyfriends I do have some uncomfortable memories of being a young teen, hanging out watching tv in a t-shirt and underwear (which is what my sister and I used to wear for pajamas), or getting out of the shower wearing a towel, and unexpectedly stumbling across my mom's boyfriend. There was always a weird vibe in the house when her boyfriends were around.

Posted by: what Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage | July 4, 2006 11:10 AM

"If you never had a wife, who exactly has been raising the child since the divorce?"

Millions of people have never had wives and raise their children after divorcing. Millions more have never had husbands and raise their children after divorcing--although this group is much smaller, statistics say.

Posted by: Cal | July 4, 2006 11:11 AM

Thank-you Dating Single Mom.

Yes, I think it's funny that anyone would think that our children somehow do not come first if we are dating. Do we think that a man's children do not come first when they play golf (OK- don't answer that! LOL)

My son is my top priority, and my happiness should be a top priority as well as it does come back around and reflect in my son's happiness. Now, if dating and continueing with various aspects of my life keep me happy and balanced, then how is that different from leaving the house for a scrapbooking party?

Afterall, isn't dating almost a hobby until you find a man worth being a real part of your life? ;)

Yes, I know as an educated, founding director of a non-profit and single mother that is VERY involved in my child's social/emotional/developmental growth, balance is inherent in this entry. I suppose that if you are not a responsible single mother, you may not know that parenting is number one and a 24/7 job that can take all of you. This is not a complaint(!), it is a fact. And, perhaps unlike other families, single/solo moms NEED to make a clearly identified EFFORT to have balance or have any life beyond the children (again, I think this rings true for most involved moms). Seriously, don't mothers and fathers go on dates with one another? A single mom just has to find the partner to date.

I know dating now is very different from dating before my son came along! I'm not in a desperate hunt for a husband or father of my child (as I hear people stereotype). However, if I don't see the possibility of a future with someone, then they are not going to take up any more of my time. My life is FULL & any date that is invited into my world should be aware that this is a HUGE compliment.

Having not been much interested in dating for the last few years, I am interested in the journey back to the dating world.
I love how Rachel approached her return to the dating scene.

Posted by: Single2Mother-Randi | July 4, 2006 11:17 AM

Cal said: "It's just as well, because I can't answer your questions anyway. I never had a wife, and it would be impossible for me to foster a relationship between my son and his mother. But my son has done exceptionally well and has a wonderful relationship with both parents, who have raised him jointly since the divorce."

Question from just wondering: I know that you don't feel obligated to answer any questions, but please explain something. If you never had a wife, who exactly has been raising the child since the divorce?

Hypothesis from just wondering: It almost sounds as if Cal had a child with a woman who was married to another man. He never had a wife and she divorced her husband and now Cal and the mother are raising the child jointly. Can't be sure, but it sure seems interesting .... hmmmmmm.

Another hypothesis: Cal is a (kind of mean) gay man who either adopted a child with another man or had a child by a surrogate. (Thus the "never had a wife" phrase.) He has now separated from that man (hence the "since the divorce" phrase), and he and his former partner are now raising the child jointly even though they are no longer a couple.

Posted by: THS | July 4, 2006 11:22 AM

Laura, I really appreciated your comments. I think there is a "we" that you speak for and this is the group of people who do post very regularly on this blog, and who have a sense of each others' personality and approach to issues. There are a large number of people who post thoughtful, sincere comments about their lives and the issues of the day's column, and I know I really appreciate it. And I think it's absolutely fair to object to people making posts that are particularly venomous or childish.

Skepticality, I also think you've done an admirable job of trying to hash out the difference between attacks and valid opinions.

Thanks to both of you.

Cal, I disagree with pretty much everything you've said, but this in particular stands out to me:
"parent who doesn't do everything possible to find the other parent is failing in a basic responsibility" There are people out there who are not fit to be parents, and it seems to me that trying to foist their unwanted children on them is just a way to increase the hurt felt by both sides. A child will know if their parent doesn't want to spend time with them and is only doing it because the other parent insists, why make the child relive the feelings of rejection and hurt on a regular basis? You have obviously made a judgment call about fostering a relationship between your son and his mother, saying that it would be impossible. Other people have to make the same judgments, determining whether it is possible and whether it is healthy, and second-guessing them based on such limited information seems very unfair to me.

Posted by: Megan | July 4, 2006 11:44 AM

all my best to Rachel.
So Cal, what the heck is your story? Male, female, gay or straight? If you are going to post cryptic comments, you owe us an explaination!

Posted by: experienced mom | July 4, 2006 12:32 PM

I'd like to thank ExperiencedMom for reminding us that birth control does not always work, even when used meticulously. I have a son and a niece who came into the world this way. I think of it as a mistimed, not an unwanted pregnancy.

As for Rachel's case - we don't know the specifics, and really, does it matter? It seems she's taken responsibility for her daughter, for her past mistakes, and for her needs as an adult (not just a "mommy"). As others have said, it sounds as thpugh those who condemn her do so with the expectation that she should be punished for being an unwed mother. I suspect these are the same people who would have condemned her if she had chosen abortion.

Yhis community is rife with meanspirited posters, and today is a particularly gruesome example. I will not post again.

Posted by: FairfaxWorkingMom | July 4, 2006 2:54 PM

I have never read comments from a more mean spirited, shallow group of people. Wow, you guys are really pathetic. First, you can't read properly and have to argue as to why the post was on Monday rather than Tuesday. Then you chastize a woman you don't know for making a mistake. How do you all know she didn't use birth control? Have you ever known someone to accidently gotten pregnant while using birth control? It is possible.

And for all the married women out there, if your husband left you, wouldn't you want to find another mate? If you said no, you are lying. Admit that you are happy you have someone and get on with it.

I am very happy none of you are my friend. I am in no way perfect, as you all think you are, and am happy my friends love me for who I am.

Go out and get a life!!

Posted by: Pathetic | July 4, 2006 3:27 PM

Women are not looking for a perfect man, they are looking for someone with a little self esteem. Since you say you are not someone these women would like, I would say that maybe your attitude and self respect are your problem.

Posted by: ToEddi e | July 4, 2006 3:35 PM

It's sad to read all these negative things. This is a child we're talking about. Unless anyo f you have actually walked in this writer's shoes and are a single parent, trust me, you have no clue. The world we be a much better place if we supported each other. This article is way too short for anyone to jump to such horrid conclusions about the how's and why's. Even using birth control, people get pregnant. It happens. Wake up. The point is the child is here. And the mom is just talking about dating and carving our a little time for herself. Maybe even meeting a great guy who can be an amazing influnce on her daughter. Kudos to men and womean who raise kids alone, whatever the reason. My huisband, the seemingly perfect firefighter, walked out on all his child and voluntarily relinquished everything. He even asked me to sign a document indemnifying him if my daughter committed a tort for which a parent could be held liable. Who does that? Don't judge me. You have no clue. People in our situations are doing the best we can. Hindsight is 20/20. Aren't the days of the scarlet letter over?

Posted by: CubFan | July 4, 2006 3:38 PM

First, Rachel is a friend and I know her to be a dedicated parent as well as a warm-hearted, compassionate woman who writes about her life with remarkable honesty. I challenge any of you to open yourselves up the way she has; exposing both your dreams AND mistakes.
Second, her story brings up so many issues for me. I'm a single mom too, but raising my (biological) teenager as well as fostering abused and neglected children, one of whom I've adopted. I've drawn on this challenging and rewarding lifestyle to realize inner strengths I never knew I had before. Wanting to fit dates into the picture is neither an interest or a reality, yet sometimes I wonder how much I decided to fill my life with children because I feel no longer CAPABLE of finding a man who I want to share myself with (or vice-versa). That Rachel is a vibrant, beautiful woman who KNOWS she wants and deserves a partner is testament to her self-confidence, and to any man she's dated it's a no-brainer that she loves her daughter and wants the best for her, too.
Third, my teenage son was recently diagnosed with bipolar illness. As some other posters have written, this illness in NO way indicates a character weakness, and can be managed with a combination of medication and therapy. But as anyone who lives with or loves a mentally ill person also knows, life can feel extra challenging at BEST. It's just possible that Rachel's ex thought it better to try healing alone rather than exposing his girlfriend and baby to the double-whammy of living with his mental illness AND his addiction to alcohol.
And good for you, Rachel, for helping others see just how incredible we single moms can be.

Posted by: Annie | July 4, 2006 3:39 PM

It strikes me as ridiculous that most of the people posting have completely lost sight of the purpose of the blog... I thought (I could be wrong) that the purpose was to open the topic of dating as a single mom...

People... You've become so caught up in your own self-rightous drivle, that you've ended up selfishly using Rachel's willingness to share a bit of her life situation as a means to spew and attack about a situation which you have not enough information.

It's a heated debate that's been bullied and jostled into so many stupid directions that I'm embarrassed to admit that I even spent the time reading through it.

Thank you to Rachel for sharing her story. I am a single mom, whose circumstances, for the "purpose" of this blog, are not the issue. When I become ready to date again (if I ever do). It's good to know that there ARE people out here who have some experience on the subject and who are willing to share it.

Posted by: Savannah's Mom | July 4, 2006 4:13 PM

Megan,

"A child will know if their parent doesn't want to spend time with them and is only doing it because the other parent insists, why make the child relive the feelings of rejection and hurt on a regular basis?"

I realize that actual data is a poor substitute for your opinion, but stuies have established that children of divorce do better if they have regular access to both parents. Custody and visitation should be just as mandatory as financial support--and I assume you think that shouldn't be forced, either? After all, the children will be forced to relive the rejection every time the other parent spends money.

If one parent is uninterested or neglectful, the other parent still owes the child every best effort at securing as much access and time as is possible. In many cases, faced with this effort, the supposedly uninterested parent will step up to the task. In others, he or she won't. But in both cases, the child will have two parents--just as children with married parents do, despite one often being much less interested than the other.

"You have obviously made a judgment call about fostering a relationship between your son and his mother, saying that it would be impossible."

You obviously don't read well. I didn't make a judgment call. I stated a fact: it would be impossible for me to foster a relationship between my son and his mother. I also said that my son has excellent relationships with both parents, which I have worked very hard to achieve. And I'm only answering these questions to demonstrate that many of you really need to be a bit more careful about what you think and post.

" I think there is a "we" that you speak for and this is the group of people who do post very regularly on this blog"

First, the group of people who do post regularly on this blog do not agree. I've seen many of you posting familiar contempt. So clearly, Laura does not speak for every single one of the regular posters to this blog.

More importantly, studies demonstrate time and again that commenters are at most 10% of an online site's readers. So even if Laura did in fact speak for every single person who posts "regularly" to the blog, that would consist of maybe 10% of the overall readers. I doubt she has consulted them for their opinion.

If Laura wants to speak for a group, I suggest she solicit consent forms and then publish the list of people who will sign on to her stated opinions. But it'd probably be easier and more accurate for her to use the first person singular.

Posted by: Cal | July 4, 2006 4:28 PM

Why should a mother not date when she is single? How else will she able to maybe offer her child and herself the sort of family these critics blame her for not having??

And why is a man who has proven himself unfit to be a father and/or husband, still thought of as better than no father at all???

Posted by: barb | July 4, 2006 4:54 PM

Cal:

I'm a big believer in research findings as a guide to all kinds of things, including ways of parenting. I'm also quite ready to believe that, if a child has two parents, it's better for the child to know and be cared for by both of them than not---on average.

But "on average" is an important stipulation. To believe that a child is better off in being exposed---perhaps repeatedly over a long period---to a parent who is unwilling (or, perhaps, unable) to care for him requires quite a leap. You'd have to say more than "studies have established" to convince me. I'm a behavioral science PhD, so I have the training to understand whatever studies produced this result. If you can give the precise citations, I'd be very interested in reviewing them, and I'm sure others would as well.

Thanks much.

Posted by: THS | July 4, 2006 6:12 PM

It is really hard to figure out how to balance our own needs (whatever those are) against all the demands of young children and their needs, work and economic gain, and being a part of a family and community.

I think one thing about dating is that it does take up a lot of time - so what experiences do you provide for your child during that time? How do you protect your child from too much information while not keeping them in the dark about family business? These seem to me to be universal questions, but a single parent doesn't have someone else to bounce them off of or trade off time.

I look forward to checking out Rachel's answer to that in her upcoming book - and good luck with it Rachel.

Posted by: Shandra | July 4, 2006 8:25 PM

"If one parent is uninterested or neglectful, the other parent still owes the child every best effort at securing as much access and time as is possible."

Doesn't that depend on how neglectful? For example, what if you broke up because your ex was neglectful enough to leave one of your children in a hot car for hours? Do you really owe your surviving child every best effort at securing as many chances for your ex to bake him or her too as possible?

Posted by: Maria | July 4, 2006 8:47 PM

Maria, you originally asserted that a child is damaged merely by being in the presence of a parent who doesn't want him around. Now you've moved the standard way, way down to potential neglect. That's a big jump. Can I take it you agree that a child is better off seeing a non-neglectful parent, no matter how uninterested, than he or she is with no access at all?

In the case of a potentially neglectful parent, there's an entire legal system in place to determine the child's safety. If the legal system has not declared the child unsafe, then the other parent has no right to substitute his or her own judgment and deny the child access to the supposedly neglectful parent.

THS, there's plenty of research establishing that children of divorce do better when both parents are around. See Amato and Booth for a longitudinal study and Robert Emery for a good review of the literature. After financial instability, loss of a parent is one of the major causes of damage post-divorce. Kids with a good post-divorce situation and access to both parents do as well or better than kids living in an intact, high conflict marriage.

To say nothing of the fact that it's obvious on its face. Children of adoption experience a well-documented longing for their "birth" parents, regardless of the quality and love of their adoptive parents, regardless of the indisputable fact that their parents didn't want them.
Children who lose access to one parent due to separation or divorce have an equally well-documented longing if they've lost access to one parent. Mitigating that longing, no matter how painful (ie, a parent who's not particularly interested), would obviously be an improvement in cases that didn't involve legal abuse or neglect. It may create different pains, certainly, but at least the child has his parent.

Another thing I keep forgetting to mention that should be part of any "single parent/dating" discussion--the stats on remarriage aren't pretty. That should also be a factor in any single parent planning to date again, since presumably remarriage is at least a potential.

Posted by: Cal | July 4, 2006 10:07 PM

"you say the blog will be 'what we make of it'."

"If Laura wants to speak for a group, I suggest she solicit consent forms and then publish the list of people who will sign on to her stated opinions. But it'd probably be easier and more accurate for her to use the first person singular."

Actually, Cal, before you criticize me for attempting to speak for you, please look at what I actually wrote. The "we" statement you criticize merely says that this blog "will be what WE [that is, everyone who writes in] make of it." Duh. Since a blog is a collection of posted opinions, by definition it can only be what those who write in want it to be. My opinion about what that SHOULD be, on the other hand, was clearly expressed in the first person singular.

But don't worry -- consent form or not, I doubt that anyone would think I was attempting to speak for you.

Posted by: Laura | July 5, 2006 9:41 AM

I believe the answer to Cal's riddle is that she is a woman. So, now we know that much of the meanness from Monday came from a woman, not a man. So what, apparently many of us forgot that women can be nastier than men. Now can we just ignore Cal.

Everyone is entitled to their judgments. I think, however, the collective "we" referred to in other posts was a fair use in that many people appear to be turned off by the tone of the posts in response to this entry, it hits many people as totally uncalled for. If this is where the blog is going, that would just be too bad. It has often been an interesting diversion in which some insightful and entertaining comments are made, along with some disputes. Nasty is not entertaining.

My first few months as a parent, I was often consumed with wonder at how single parents survive. I had everything going for me, health, maturity, education, a good relationship, financial security, etc., and it remains the most overwhelming experience I have ever had. I suspect that parenting is the hardest and most rewarding thing that I will ever do. Of course single parents are entitled to adult time, whether with friends or on dates. Of course the first priority in their life has to be their children. Thank you to all the posters that explored issues relating to the topic.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 5, 2006 10:39 AM

I believe the answer to Cal's riddle is that she is a woman. So, now we know that much of the meanness from Monday came from a woman, not a man. So what, apparently many of us forgot that women can be nastier than men. Now can we just ignore Cal.

Everyone is entitled to their judgments. I think, however, the collective "we" referred to in other posts was a fair use in that many people appear to be turned off by the tone of the posts in response to this entry, it hits many people as totally uncalled for. If this is where the blog is going, that would just be too bad. It has often been an interesting diversion in which some insightful and entertaining comments are made, along with some disputes. Nasty is not entertaining.

My first few months as a parent, I was often consumed with wonder at how single parents survive. I had everything going for me, health, maturity, education, a good relationship, financial security, etc., and it remains the most overwhelming experience I have ever had. I suspect that parenting is the hardest and most rewarding thing that I will ever do. Of course single parents are entitled to adult time, whether with friends or on dates. Of course the first priority in their life has to be their children. Thank you to all the posters that explored issues relating to the topic.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 5, 2006 10:39 AM

"If you had bothered to keep reading (or do you edit what you read to make a point?), you would see that I wrote "If you're worried about one method not working, go get a second method (diaphram, pill, patch, implant, etc). " "

Here's some news for ya. My mother and father used EVERY AVAILABLE means of BC and STILL concieved my little brother. So even using more than 1 method is not fool-proof. NOTHING is foolproof. Heck... if you believe the bible, not even abstenice is fool-proof, just look at Mary (jk) ;)

Posted by: Rhiannon | July 5, 2006 12:31 PM

People put way too much emphasis on sex. Sex is a gift from God to married people. I agree that sex is great, but I also feel that when you do things God's way -such as getting to know a person to see if they are marriage material and someone you feel you can be with for the rest of your life-life will go a lot more smoother. Isa 48:17, 18 God says " I.. am your God, the one teaching you to benefit yourself, the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk. O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments! Then your peace will become just like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea."

Posted by: MP | July 5, 2006 12:44 PM

I'm a little confused by the last post. Not by what it states, but more by what it seems to imply. Dating in my life has little to do with 'sex'. I have been on many 'dates' without as much as a kiss (have had about 10 dates with no kissing-or anything in the last few years). In fact, isn't dating a great example of "getting to know a person to see if they are marriage material and someone you feel you can be with for the rest of your life"? I'm not sure where that statement was going, because that is what dating is about. Right?
So, was that in support of dating?

Posted by: Single2Mother-Randi | July 5, 2006 12:57 PM

"And I'm only answering these questions to demonstrate that many of you really need to be a bit more careful about what you think and post."

None of us need you to tell us to be careful about what we post, much less think. Thanks so much for the offer though, big brother.

Posted by: Megan | July 5, 2006 2:10 PM

geez, what a nasty day Monday was. birth control, religion, ganging up on single mothers. And I thought I had it bad in the car for 7 hours with a two year old.

Posted by: Scarry | July 5, 2006 2:27 PM

Dear considering single motherhood:
Yes, it is challenging to date...even more so with kids. I had two kids on my own when I met the man who has become my husband (actually, I was five months pregnant when we met). He was a widower with two teens, one special needs. He needed the social outlet, as did I, which is essential for any parent. No child benefits from being the ONLY focus of a parent's life, since parenting is stressful at times, whether you're married or not.

Anyway, we defied a lot of the normal rules about dating. Our first date was actually my child and I "double-dating" with his special needs child. Since our children were our priorities, we wanted to acknowledge that from the start. AFTER we all met, then he and I took the time to develop our own personal relationship.

Because of the kids, we don't live together and continue to raise them as single parents. But it sure is nice to have that one-night-per-week "date night" to give us both a lovely break!

Mikki (author, "Choosing Single Motherhood")

Posted by: choicemom | July 6, 2006 10:36 AM

"You made your bed, now lie in it."

She is TRYING to!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 6, 2006 5:03 PM

If you can take the lengthily post, put on your reading glasses, this one's actually about the topic at hand...

The Waiting Game.
So I'll probably get some serious flack for not waiting long enough, but I dated 6 months after the separation/1 month after the divorce was final. Since my ex dated while we were married, I didn't think this was so bad...Actually, it would have been 3 months after separation, but I had to cancel because the kids & I had a nasty flu - not so attractive! Appropriate waiting time?? There is none. Everyone's different. When you feel you are ready.

Happy Mommies make good Mommies.
Am I bitter? Angry? A big man-hater? No! All that negativity is bad for you and the children. Put your children 1st, but don't sacrifice yourself in the process - it will have negative effects on them. Most men I meet are genuinely nice guys - and I don't mean that in an Eddie Haskell sort of way. (You sexists aren't included!) It is harder to meet men as a single mom, though. I'm open to suggestions...

Finding Mr. Right.
As for finding that next "Mr. Right", I'm not looking. My children already have a dad. As for me, I'm pretty independent so I am about 99% sure that I will not marry again. This is NOT sad. I do NOT think it is because I will never fall in love again. It is NOT that I am not disserving of another's love. Blah. Blah. (All of these comments from past conversations...) In fact, I'msure that I WILL fall in love again. I, personally, don't find marriage to be a need. Why are SOME (notice not all) older singles - including men - in such a hurry to marry? (Stop it - you're scaring me!) Take your time. You don't have to be as commitment phobic as me, but enjoy the process - as long as you do not expose your children to bad influences or parade dates in and out of their lives. I date when my ex has the children (I know this is not an option for some).

Who to date?
Contrary to another post, I find most men in their 40s/late 30s don't want to deal with all the drama of a younger version. Who can blame them? Me either!! My worst date: a recovered alcoholic that wasn't so recovered. (Couldn't strap my running shoes on fast enough.) My best dates: single dads, never married, who put their kids 1st (They created single moms - what better empathizers AND they don't monopolize your time.) Warning: probably not for those looking for a serious commitment. Seriously, date who you like and have fun.

Save the best for last...the balancing act.
Children ALWAYS come 1st. If the guys you date can't understand that they are not on the upper echelon of your priority list - bye, bye! That is my one and only rule. I don't date much because I just don't make it my priority, but I DO date. It makes for a happier, less stressed home! End of story. (Really end of story literally - take off your reading glasses!)

Posted by: Single [Mom] & Loving It | July 6, 2006 11:10 PM

Dearest Rachel,
Thank you for your honesty, humor, and openness.
I am shocked at the rapid fire rate of conservative blight that has reared/ smeared their way throughout this blog......
The fact that Rachel is an excellent dedicated mama, and an incredibly compassionate, creative woman shouldn't be on the chopping block.
The fact that she balances the practical everyday sandwich making, the mental challanges of a budding talented incredible daughter, and growth experiences of 'mamahood' with writing a book (yes, how many of you bozo's can utter those words??) -and write for many top notch publications, is astounding.
On top of this the fact that she still has the openness willingness, not to mention the time and enegy to date......Rachel is not looking for someone to fill any shoes, her shoes are FULL. She has many dedicated loyal friends, who love her and her daughter. Her dating is a natural progression, not some half- assed/ half- baked bundt cake.
AND in her brilliance, she has turned her experiences into an incitefull, hillarious, and thoughtful book.
The truth is, life does twist and twirl- it's a PROCESS not a race to bite the golden carrot.

Posted by: sio | July 7, 2006 3:34 AM

Thanks Rachael, for giving us a realistic snapshot of the life of a single mom. Congrats on balancing your work, personal life and mommyhood. It's really tough but it sounds as if you are managing it well and with a sense of humor too.

I am one of the many women who chose not to marry my child's father. It was the best decision for all of us. My son sees his father almost every day and he takes an active role as a parent. We may not be the most traditional of families but we are a happy one. Modeling honesty, compassion and forgiveness are just a few of our family values.

Let me know if you meet any nice, single dads in the SF North Bay!

Posted by: Mom2Curtis | July 10, 2006 11:55 PM

I want to know how it is that from reading Rachel's short article people have made inferences about Rachel's decisions and lifestyle. I've read all the posts and truly believe there is no place for some of the comments here. If only as a community we could "flag" some of the comments away.

There are obviously hateful, angry, overly sheltered and very, very ingnorant folks here in the world. I'm a single mom. Luckily, the father of my child IS involved. And yes I believe we need to have positive role modeling by both male and female family and non-family members. It doesn't necessarily have to be a father or a mother. When I think of my childhood and my parents who by the way were married until I turned 25, the most influential people as a child that provided positive role modeling were folks outside of my immediate family. I DID learn a lot from my mom but my dad was emotionally uninvolved in my life. When I "grew up," I knew that if I stayed with my exhusband my son would not have the loving and emotionally available parents he currently has for XYZ reasons (that is none of your business). HE IS SOOOOO LUCKY. I MADE THE CONSCIOUS DECISION TO LEAVE FOR THE SAKE OF HIS WELL-BEING. Again, my situation is different in that I have a somewhat amicable relationship now with the ex and we both try to be on the same page with parenting. My parents were married for 30 years and my siblings and I witnessed the unhappiness they endured for sooooo long which in turn made us unhappy too.

My child is 6. I've been dating since he was 4. I waited to be emotional available to date because it takes practice balancing work, child-rearing and taking care of myself. When I began to become comfortable with the balancing act I started dating. I don't recall in all the literature I've read and in coversations with other people ever hearing about the right age of your child to begin dating. I am very careful about introducing men I'm dating. I NEVER introduce anyone I date to my son. That is MY decision.

IT IS FROM MY PERSPECTIVE THAT...I think as long as Rachel's daughter is loved and provided for emotionally/psychologically and physically and Rachel is conscious of the decisions and actions in her life then she should date and have fun. I am clueless about how Rachel is as a person besides the fact that part of her earnings is through her writing and that she's a single mom. I know her previous relationship didn't work out, like most of ours. How many of you are still with your first love? If you are bless your soul. That is just sooooo uncommon. But for some reason we're quick at imposing opinions about Rachel's past relationship that NONE OF US KNOW MUCH ABOUT!!!!! I also know that Rachel is braver than anyone who has posted so far. She publicly disclosed information about her life that is soooo intimate in hopes that other females can relate, not feel that they're alone and be able to open up. Instead people used "put-downs" in their posts. It's alright to have opinions but it's not alright to be hateful and rude.

Anyway, STOP THE PLAYER-HATING, ya fools.

Posted by: Somanyplayerhaters | July 12, 2006 12:51 AM

I am the single mom of an extraordinary girl. She's 5, she's smart, she's thoughtful and she is my teammate. I learn from her every day. Her dad also has chosen to abandon his responsibility to his daughter just as Rachel's ex did. I am not responsible for that choice and nor should I be judged for it...and neither should Rachel. You don't need to agree with every choice a person makes, but certainly you shouldn't condemn them for them, especially when you don't know the entire story. It seems to me that Rachel has shared her story candidly, with humor and courage. Single mom's in most of our society are stereotyped and are something of a dirty little secret. I am not a victim and being a single mom is not a terrible mistake. I am an independant woman with a successful career, living every day to the fullest with my little girl who inspires me every single day.

Posted by: ad | July 13, 2006 11:31 AM

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