How I became a single mom

by singlemomseeking on November 20, 2007

Looking back, I should have seen the signs. He was drinking more. He wasn’t sleeping. When he was, he crashed in the other room.

Just before Thanksgiving in the year 2000, M’s father told me he wouldn’t be coming with us to my cousin’s house, where we’d planned to spend the holiday. Instead, he wanted to stay in Manhattan with his sisters on Thanksgiving, something he hadn’t done for more than a decade. Looking back now, he was probably planning his big exit. He was probably mapping out the details to catch a plane.

We’d been having a rough time together –I was your classic codependent living with an alcoholic. I’d thought that a couple of days apart would do us good.

The morning before Thanksgiving, Eric took the baby and me to Penn Station, as planned. He walked us to the train, gave us each a quick peck on the cheek, and stepped away just as the doors were closing.

That was the last time we saw him.


From my cousin’s home, I’d called our apartment. There was no answer. As I left a message, giving him our arrival time, I had a bad feeling. During the three-hour train ride back to NYC, my bad feeling got worse.

When we got off the train, he wasn’t there. I called Eric’s sister, and she told me he hadn’t shown up for Thanksgiving. My head started to throb. Something was wrong.

“Don’t worry,” she said. “I’ll call Joseph and tell him to come and get you.”

Joseph was Eric’s older brother, the dependable one in their family. Though I’d met him only a handful of times, he had always been interested in how Eric, M, and I were doing. And I suspect he knew that things were not going well. He arrived within a half hour, embracing M with one hand and patting me on the shoulder with the other. He scooped up M’s car seat and our suitcase and said, “C’mon girls, let’s go.”

When we arrived at our apartment, I was certain Eric would be there. With M on my hip, I rushed from room to room, looking for a clue, a note, anything that said why he wasn’t there. All of his clothes were gone. But he’d left the photos of M and him. He’d left his carpentry
tools, too. This meant he was coming back, right?

It would take a year for it to finally sink in: he wasn’t coming home.

Traditionally, Thanksgiving has been tough for me. I feel endlessly grateful for M — and for my family and friends.

But I wonder: how do you remember a life toss-up like this one? I certainly don’t feel sorry for myself. But it’s not like I find myself celebrating, either. Maybe I should?

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Carole November 28, 2008 at 5:57 pm

As horrible as you stroy may seem – you are actually very lucky. You don’t have to deal with the sickness, or the abuse, or having to split the holidays and all those battles.

Jessica, I’ve gone through all those feelings too. At least mine paid the child support for this kid.

Life goes on. Let it. It gets better.

Carole´s last blog post…Fat Friday


Jessica November 27, 2007 at 4:55 am

Once again….I am right there with ya sista!!!
Thanksgiving has always been tough for me with the memories.

My ex-husband was a drunk and a drug user. There are times when I wish he would have just walked out and left me alone with my boy. There are times when I am thankful that his dad wants to be with him unlike my own. There are times when I wish he would just get bored of his son and go away like everything else in his life.
There are times when I wish he would knock up his new wife so he could have another heir to his name.


Susan November 22, 2007 at 4:04 pm

Rachel, we can plan on it one day 🙂 Hang in there!


kelly November 22, 2007 at 6:36 am

Wow, I’m speech-less.

I am a new single mom as of 60 days ago. My husband walked out on my soon to be 4 year old daughter and I.

She was born on Thanksgiving. I love her with every beat of my heart. He doesn’t. He adores her when she’s cute and cuddly and that’s it. He signed up for the quiet baby or better yet, he signed up for the puppy that you could play with and when you got tired of their antics, you could put them in the garage in their box and forget about them until tomorrow. Instead, he got a very high spirited girl with a will of iron. He berated her daily!

I too acted as the co-dependent by forever making sure that every decision I made for me, my girl, him or all of us would make him happier.

I too had the couch sleeper.

I too should have seen the signs.

The thing that gets me is that our men could have done it differently. They could have for one…stepped up to the plate and gotten marriage counseling with us…NO Way he said, never.

I don’t even “know” anyone who has walked out on their child. How do you do that? What does that tell you? It tells you that you wouldn’t even have a friend that would do this, therefore maybe we shouldn’t be “married” to them?

Okay I don’t want to hog the stage but please don’t be sad. it’s difficult to thank our men right now for the gifts that they brought to the table even though that is the evolved thing to do. I feel that since we need to heal our anger and hurt, maybe for now we should just thank the universe for our health. Our children haven’t been abducted like so many mother’s have, nor are so ill like so many children. We have them and they CHOSE us to be their mommies because we can pull them through this.

Thanks for listening.

P.S. My husband wasn’t a drinker but he marinated me in his daily baths of pessimism.
Also, I am a child of an alcoholic and I respond differently to so many things because of this and your pain and anger that you are enduring is SAVING her from being raised in the home of an alcoholic.



kimzyjm November 21, 2007 at 9:43 pm

As painful as that must have been, be thankful that despite it all you have been able t make a good life for M and that you have grown from it. It’s tough doing it alone sometimes, but sometimes we must! and through these experiences… we will become better and stronger and one day our girls will appreciate us even more for it!


Lexi's Mom November 21, 2007 at 1:59 pm

Any man (or woman) who walks out without so much as a good-bye or some sort of explanation is no man (or woman) at all. Some have the excuses of biolarism, alcohol, drug, etc., but it doesn’t matter. It’s a cowardly thing to do, and very, very hurtful to the loved ones who are left behind. Even though my “husband” was eventually able to bring himself to face me and talk about what prompted him to leave me and our newborn child, I just never felt the same about him afterward. I tried to forgive and forget, for the sake of our daughter, and because he truly had issues and needed help. But part of me couldn’t get past the fact that I had treated him like a king when he was home, loving him with all that I had. In return, he didn’t have the decency to talk to me about his problem, and he didn’t give me the opportunity to try to help him, even though there’s no doubt in either of our minds that I would have.

I told Rachel that it took me a very long time to get over the hurt and accept the fact that I was going to be a single mom. But I did it, and now I’m in a much better place. And I agree wholeheartedly with making new traditions. Along with tradition comes stability for your child(ren). And even if they don’t last, finding ways to have fun with your family and enjoying each other is what the holidays are about for me.


VJ November 21, 2007 at 6:32 am

Susan has some good ideas there, it’s time to start new traditions. A fresh start is always good. We tried doing turducken for a few years and then the restaurant that prepared this fantastic dish (with full Cajun sides) sadly went out of business. Then we tried various buffets for the day. The best one so far was the late Georgian Terrace in Atlanta. That was simply to die for. Real nice everything, and literally almost 100 things to choose from various traditions, even a decent Jazz pianist too. Then they stopped doing that & now we make do with the Four seasons. Slightly more expensive, but generally worth it. And kids being kids, they more or less behave exactly as Susan described. Predictably. This is what families & kids do.

But on disappearing spouses, lovers, fiance’s & BF’s, it’s a very long tradition. The Jewish Daily Forward in NYC used to print pages upon pages of ‘have you seen my dear husband?’ adverts & heartbreaking letters from the turn of the 20th century up until the 1920’s & slightly beyond. (Some wives disappearing too, BTW). But it was the standard refrain, ‘he went for some milk, smokes, diapers & then just disappeared…’. So it happens & has been happening for a very long time. It still hurts & is heartbreaking just the same.

So when do we get a fuller treatment on this carpenter fetish of yours Rachael? Just wondering! Cheers & Good Luck! ‘VJ’


Tanisha June 22, 2010 at 10:27 am

Wow..that’s interesting about the Jewish Daily Forward. That would be interesting to read.


singlemomseeking November 21, 2007 at 4:13 am

Susan: How I would jump at the chance to celebrate New Years with you, me, and our kids… We’d have our own ball for sure.

VJ: Don’t get me started on my thing with carpenters….


VJ November 21, 2007 at 2:28 am

Sorry about that Rachael, it sounds like the traditional ‘disappearing kiss off’. It’s happened time in memorial. Really And what is it with these carpenters? The hands?! What? Cheers & Happy Thanksgiving! ‘VJ’


Susan November 21, 2007 at 12:32 am

I should’ve added to that last sentence “…and always!” 🙂


Susan November 21, 2007 at 12:31 am

Rachel, I am reading your book now so I knew your story about Thanksgiving. (Everyone, read her book!) It still breaks my heart that that happened to you. That said, if the holiday makes you uneasy or sad, start some new traditions for just you and M (and your family if you’d like). When I was first separated I was determined to take my kids, then ages 3 and 1, to a “traditional” T-day dinner. My family lived out of town and it was just us. I dragged the kids to one of those hotel buffets and there we were — sitting in the middle of a big ballroom surrounded by hundreds of “real families.” My kids wouldn’t eat anything included in their $18/each price except for the jello and chocolate milk! My son wanted to toddle around or throw his utensils on the floor. Needless to say the “tradition” didn’t last.

I had similar feelings of loneliness and “now what do I do” with New Year’s eve (minus the jello and milk). Now we go see a holiday lights display and that has become a tradition.

My point is just to reiterate all the points of the great single mamas above — you and M are doing great. You have so much to be proud of — hold onto that on Thursday!


mssinglemama November 20, 2007 at 8:03 pm

Just imagine what your life would be like if he would have stayed. Now, you’re free. Free from living and being with someone who used you, someone who didn’t really love you and someone who ultimately would have hurt your daughter.

There is nothing more amazing than raising a child on your own. I think this experience, although incredibly hard at times, is one of the most exciting, challenging and rewarding things I’ve ever done. Every day I thank myself for having the courage to leave my ex-husband. You didn’t have to make that choice, he made it for you. But, I would bet my life on it – that had he stayed – you would have chosen to leave him. For yourself and more importantly for M.

If we were at a bar I’d be buying you a drink and giving you a huge pat on the back. You’ve survived!


kb November 20, 2007 at 7:10 pm

That story is so sad. It’s such a cowardly thing for him to do. On the flip side, maybe it was all for the best. You were able to rid of that alcoholic baggage and start a new life. And it sounds like that life you’ve created for you and your daughter is a great one.

I hope he does peek in on here once in a while, like you think he does. Because then he will see what you and M have become. Happy.


singlemomseeking November 20, 2007 at 6:49 pm

Lexi’s Mom: Thanks so much … your comment gave me the chills, in a really good way. It was just what I needed to shake myself back to the ground, to feeling good.


Lexi's Mom November 20, 2007 at 6:33 pm

Wow. Rachel, your “life toss up” sounds ALMOST as painful as mine. (Believe it or not, I’m sure I have you beat!) But I remember my experience by NOT remembering it. I no longer dwell on the hurt, the pain, the endless questions about why and what I could have done to deserve or to cause his leaving, etc. I buried that experience a long time ago and chalk it up to experience. Maybe you should have seen the signs, but what difference would it have made? Despite your best intentions, you can’t stop someone from leaving when they want to go.

So, yes, I say celebrate. Celebrate the life that you’ve so successfully made for M and for yourself, sans a man who sounds like he didn’t deserve you anyway. Embrace your small family unit, and this Thanksgiving, be thankful for the blessing Eric gave you! I know I’m thankful every day for mine. 😉


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