“I make every decision based on what is best for my daughter.”
Who: Frances Dawson
Location: Cornelius, N.C.
I separated from my husband in August 2005 when my daughter was 8 years old. I had obtained my real estate license in December 2003 but was not an established Realtor yet. I bought a modest home that I felt I could maintain even if I had to switch to a more traditional 8-to-5 job.
The first few years were the hardest. My daughter has some special needs,
was a late bloomer and needed consistency for her success. It was important
to me to drive her to and from school as much as possible and set
up a regular schedule. I found a dependable college student to pick her up
two days a week, and I would get home by dinner most of those nights.
I also took on a Realtor assistant who could take on some evening appointments and work with buyers on the weekends that I had my daughter. On the weekends that she went to her dad’s, I would work ferociously until she came home Sunday evening.
Over the years, I have had the great pleasure of being present for all the
big and little days of my daughter’s life. I volunteer at her school, am
active in my faith community and have a good group of friends and support.
My daughter has had the same wonderful tutor once a week since the third
grade—when money was especially tight, I would pay her first from my
closing commissions and prepay a few months at a time. I depend on our
tutor to tackle the toughest homework and help keep my daughter on track.
There were times, when the real estate market plunged, when I wasn’t
sure I could make it financially, but somehow it always worked out. I can be
a bargain maven when needed and can find fun even when I have no cash. We
have traveled every year—some years by car—to visit friends, and a couple
of times we took fabulous trips overseas. I carry more debt than I like,
but I have no regrets.
“There were times that I wasn’t sure I could make it financially, but somehow it always worked out.”
Eight-and-a-half years later, my daughter is in the 10th grade and turning 17 next week. I still take her to and from school and juggle work from early morning to late at night. My career has afforded me flexibility to be the mom I want to be. I make every decision based on what is best for my daughter and how I can be sure we maintain a healthy, happy, harmonious relationship. Our home is far from perfect, but I am so proud of how far we both have come.
As she gets older, I am beginning to envision my life ahead and how I want
to lead it. I’m beginning to volunteer more, take some professional
opportunities, go out with friends more and think about finding a great,
forever relationship. Beginning this summer we will start visiting colleges, and I don’t know how this day has come so quickly!
“I have alarms to take out the trash, water plants, get the car washed and even a reminder of when to do laundry.”
Who: Anneliese Place
Location: Santa Barbara, Calif.
Occupation: Hospitality consultant
I have been a single mom for 13 years. My daughters’ successes give me great pride: Shelby, left, is in her second year of dental school at Boston University and will be an officer in the Navy Dental Corps upon graduation.
Salem, right, is at Dos Pueblos Senior High in California. She is in the National Honor Society and is involved in Spanish, sailing and teaching her Border Collie tricks and is the assistant director in her theater company. The struggle is real, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. These young ladies learned to succeed by watching me earn and provide for them—I generate the income to pay the bills and accomplish all our dreams.
One of the biggest day-to-day struggles is time management. I want to do so many things, but I am only one person. I can get spread pretty thin between work, having to pick up my daughter from school at the same time that the dog needs to be at the vet and dinner needs to be made … and social obligations need to be met. I have to choose what I can accomplish and what needs to be delegated to someone else.
A lot of planning has to go into balancing our time. We work with a yearlong calendar on the wall with dry-erase markers. We even set calendar alarms on our phones to make sure everyday household chores are accomplished. I have alarms to take out the trash, water plants, get the car washed and even a reminder of when to do laundry. Without a schedule in place, there is no way we could succeed the way we do. I still struggle every day to keep up with plans. Life gets hectic, and things get rescheduled at times.
I have to pick my time wisely. I have found that mornings are my time with the girls. You know how everyone says the dinner table is the best opportunity for family time? Well, not in this family. We’ve got a lot going on! In my house, we have mornings to spend time together. We get dressed and ready for our day together, sharing mascara and mirror space. Breakfast is more than the most important meal of the day—it is often our only time together. We make mornings a big deal. Driving to school, I have a captured audience! We laugh, we joke, we plan, we even take care of crises both big and small—and sometimes we just sing to the radio.
I found time to expand my career by working at night while my kids slept and during the day while they were at school. I have worked many hours more than I wanted to and missed a lot of sleep—but it was worth it. This gave me time to be a mom at home more often.
I am always trying to find a perfect balance between the two. My girls see me work and understand what I do to provide for us as a family—so even then, they are learning from me. Time and events occur so quickly I sometimes don’t know how it all happened so successfully. I find myself at times more confident and empowered because of the sheer responsibility.
The point is, being a single mom means that I had to redefine what our traditional family is and how it accomplishes as much or more than a two-parent home. With enough creativity and a general sense of teamwork, we have made it fun!