I became a single mom on Thanksgiving

by singlemomseeking on November 25, 2008

When single dad RJ was visiting, we talked about how blessed we are to have our parents nearby. My relationship with my dad hasn’t always been easy, but thank goodness one of us has grown up. (Just kidding, Dad!)

Over the past five years, my father and I have really learned how to listen to — and respect — each other. Moreover, I’m come to really appreciate my dad. He has always been there for M and me  — through the holidays, and more.

So, when RJ sent me his most recent video interview  — “10 Minutes, 10 Questions with my Dad” — I got inspired.

Some of you might know that I officially became a single mom on Thanksgiving.

As I wrote at BabyCenter — “Thanksgiving as a single parent” — I’d gone alone to my cousin’s home that year, in 2000. Looking back, I knew something was very wrong. We’d been having a rough time together, I’d thought that a couple of days apart would do us good.

He’d brought my baby and me to the train, gave us each a quick peck on the cheek, and stepped away just as the doors were closing. Let’s just say that the next few Thanksgivings weren’t easy. But with every year — thanks to family (thank you cousin Marge!) I’ve learned to truly celebrate.

I was floored by the 80+ comments single parents have left at BabyCenter. Like many of you, here, I’ve also learned to embrace my little family, and feel blessed for my family and friends.

I’m sending really warm vibes to two particular mothers who are spending this Thursday as single moms for the first time:

One mom says this is her first Thanksgiving without her soon-to-be-ex. Another mother says that she lost her husband in July to a rare bone marrow disease.

If this week feels challenging for you, please take it from me: it will get easier. Really.

If you’re without your kids. I encourage you not to be alone on Thursday. Spend the day with friends or family. Or, as another single mom suggests: “Invite other people to share the meal with you.”



In the meantime, I’m working on editing that video of my dad — and I’ve got to let him have a preview!. The actions shots above were shot during the recording! (Yes, you recognize my spirited child in the background.)

Here’s how my Dad answered a few of RJ’s questions:

1. His current hero is Barack Obama.

2. His favorite part of Thanksgiving is being with family and friends. (One of his best guy-friends from childhood will be with us — and my step-dad with be with us… long story!)

3. His favorite food is the stuffing. (My sister will be prepping it tomorrow.)

4. If he could grow up again and choose to be another profession… he’d be a scientist and find a cure for an illness.

5. If he could go back and ask him mom to do one thing differently, he would ask her not to give away his kitten when he was away at summer camp.

Wishing you all warmth, relaxation…. and delicious food!

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Solo-Dad November 28, 2008 at 9:46 am

My father is my hero. He always has been, even though he’s didn’t vote for Obama. 😉
A few years back my son interviewed my mother about her recollections of the sacrifices her family made in WWII. Your post brought back this memory and how informative it was for him and me.
I think a lot of Solo-Dads and their kids could benefit from your example of questioning family members about their lives. It adds texture to the family fabric.


Jessica Ashley (Sassafrass) November 27, 2008 at 7:50 pm

I truly believe in our most vulnerable moments, we can be our most powerful. You show that so clearly here. If, in this moment, on this holiday, we are vulnerable and we surround ourselves with people who get it, people we love, people who we want to raise a glass with and share meal with, then how powerful is that? You give me hope and make me proud, mama.


Julie November 27, 2008 at 6:24 am

Happy Thanksgiving!

Julie´s last blog post…Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.


Gregpeckfan November 26, 2008 at 7:14 pm

My precious girl was born at Thanksgiving. I gave birth on a Friday night prior to Thanksgiving, in 2000, and the following Thursday was Turkey Day – I cooked. I have always called her ‘pumpkin pie’.

Your post hit a nerve with me that I rarely consider consciously. I almost painfully appreciate my dad in the few years since Eric left. His presence, his maleness. His dad-ness. Perversely, becoming a single mom improved my relationship with my Dad in immeasurable ways.

My dad and I were always like oil & water. I spent my 20s in various forms of therapy on about my “abandonment issues”. I suppose he was typical of the men who grew up in the 40s & 50s – emotionally unavailable, repressive, and angry.

When Eric left, I discovered a different definition for the word “abandoned.” Sadly no, it isn’t a psycho-babblonian term where dad doesn’t listen to your feelings in adolescence. It’s a suddenly empty house, children to feed and standing in the food line, no job, endless nights alone with no sleep and the heaviness of dependent kids dreaming next to you.

I come from blue collar, working class people. My dad worked very hard for us, and we ate well, and slept warm. He did the very best he could with the parenting tools he was given. And he STAYED. I am deeply grateful for my dad. Now, aging, he has a heart condition and yet he still helped me this past couple years…. with hanging things, with fixing the lawn mower, wrestling with my son. He is still there, I am still his girl, and he is still a strong male presence in my life, and the kids’ lives.

When Eric had been gone about 10 months, and I was still nursing a badly broken heart – my Dad and I drove to an auction for Violet’s school. He reached for my hand. He said “He’s not coming back. We have to move on. This is your life now and you have to suck it up and let go.” It was a great favor, because when my Dad said it out loud, it clicked into place for me.

Happy Thanksgiving, this is really a good topic.


dadshouse November 26, 2008 at 4:24 pm

Love your dad’s answers! Hope you have a great Thanksgiving.


SortaSingleMama November 26, 2008 at 3:33 pm

I remember my first Thanksgiving as a single mom. My husband and I had separated one month earlier. I was eight weeks pregnant with our second, and caring for our 8 month old alone while working full time. I remember feeling so sad and morning sick that the thought of eating made me want to sleep until Spring. Luckily, my daughter’s godmother and one of my best-est friends came from across the country to whip my ass (and some dinner) into shape.

Two years later, I am still single, but feeling strong and sexy instead of sad and lonely. You are right, it definitely does get better!

SortaSingleMama´s last blog post…I just can’t do it


LOD November 26, 2008 at 3:29 pm

My marriage ran aground (or at least I first realized it had) two Thanksgivings ago. It’s kind of crappy to associate the holiday with the end of my marriage, but it’s less crappy than before. So that’s something.

LOD´s last blog post…Stayin’ klassy


jeanie November 26, 2008 at 2:45 pm

My dad has never approved on any man I have gone out with – at least V can toe to toe it with him.

He comes from the generation that you don’t tell your kids you love them, showing love isn’t touchy/feely but practical and showing pride will only encourage swelled heads.

That being said, he has been a great male figure in my daughter’s life and stalwart support during my single mother years – and I hear from others how he sees our situation and its all good.

We don’t have thanksgiving over here – so happy Thursday!

jeanie´s last blog post…Never


SDMktg November 26, 2008 at 11:20 am

Holidays can be tough and my first year of being single was the worst. It has gotten better and better every year as I make new traditions with my kids. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

SDMktg´s last blog post…Tailgating with kids


laurakim November 26, 2008 at 11:02 am

Have a happy thanks giving!!!

My dad and I actually have a very tumultous relationship – not sure he would even answer half of those questions for me!!

laurakim´s last blog post…Dear Santa


GLSD November 26, 2008 at 10:50 am

Happy Thanksgiving Rachel! And LegalEditorMom: sorry to hear about your Dad. Everyone enjoy the holiday!


Eathan November 26, 2008 at 10:45 am

I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope every enjoys their kids, family and friends.


Legal Editor Mom November 26, 2008 at 10:35 am

Ironically, my ex and I announced at our families Thanksgiving gatherings in 2003 that I was pregnant. I was 4 months pregnant but had just found out.

My dad’s been in the hospital for the past three weeks, so part of my day tomorrow will be taking him a big plate and a pie. He never liked my ex and I guess he was right not to! Dad was there for me when he left, and he’s been there for us ever since. Sadly he’s very ill and may not be around too much longer. So stories about dads are especially near and dear to my heart.

Most of the day with be with my mom and stepdad, yet another awesome man in my and my daughter’s lives! (I am familiar with your dad/stepdad situation and I think it’s great…my stepdad knows my dad likes pies, so he sent my mom to Sara Lee to buy several for me to stock my freezer with for him!)

Looking forward to the video of yours…Have an enjoyable holiday…


SingleDad November 26, 2008 at 9:42 am

Thank You Rach for the kind words, I am looking forward to your interview with your father. Both of my parents are alive and well and I plan on getting my mother on camera this weekend and sharing another interview.
Thanksgiving brings many memories for me and I always choose to look at my personal growth from the challanges I faced. I am thankful for all the support and love I have in my life and I wish all single parents the same love and support this holiday.
Remember, anybody can be “extra-ordinary”… but it is the choice to become extraordinary!


T November 26, 2008 at 9:11 am

I was just thinking this morning that I miscarried a week before Thanksgiving in 2004. T-day 2005, I was pregnant but had that sinking feeling that my husband was cheating on me. T-day 2006, I spent with my family, separated from the ex. T-day 2007, I was mourning Soldier’s recent departure to Kuwait….

Whew! I’m ready to celebrate this year! I’m running a 5K on Thursday morning with my mom and then we’ll be CHOWING at my sister’s house. And this year, I will do it all with joy in my heart and a smile on my face!

Thank you for the inspiration Rachel! Enjoy your Thanksgiving day!

T´s last blog post…We really don’t have it SO bad, do we?


Luke Himebaugh November 26, 2008 at 9:05 am

My ex-wife and I split up the holidays like many divorced parents do.

In 2006 (4 years after we’d separated and 2 years since our divorce was final and she’d remarried), I found myself alone on Thanksgiving, after a bunch of “almost” plans ended up falling through.

Anyway, my ex had the kids that year for Thanksgiving, so she told me to come on over and spend it with them. So, yes, I sat there chatting with her “new” husband (I say that although now they’ve been married longer than her and I were before we separated), talking, watching football, drinking beer…it was good. Very healthy for the kids to see mom, dad and step-dad get along like that.

And, I got to spend some time with my kids on a holiday that wasn’t “mine” that year.


Susan November 26, 2008 at 8:52 am

Enjoy your day and traditions, Rachel. Hugs (and lots of stuffing) to you, M and your family!

Susan´s last blog post…Back to a cold reality


Nancy November 26, 2008 at 6:02 am

Enjoy the day … with those that truly mean the most to you. I’ll watch for the video interview of your Dad … sounds like you have a great friendship with him =)

Nancy´s last blog post…geeK IS Sexy


liz November 26, 2008 at 5:09 am

I found out on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving that my ex had been unfaithful. Thanksgiving always was, and always has been, my favorite holiday and I was determined not to let him spoil the day for me. Three Thanksgivings later, it remains my favorite! Thanks in no small part to my family…

Happy Day!!!!

liz´s last blog post…Yum


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