Rebranding the Single Mom℠: Kathleen Fordyce
As some of you may know, I’m on a tiny (okay, fine, it’s sort of huge in my own mind) mission to Rebrand the Single Mom one internal conversation at a time. And although I think that the real work starts with the internal dialogue, I also truly believe there is great value in sharing thoughts and perspectives from other single moms.
The first Rebranding the Single Mom® story I am sharing is from Kathleen Fordyce. Kathleen is a freelance writer living in New York with her son, Logan, and Beagle, Charlie. She and I worked together on ShriverReport.org and I have to say, she was, and continues to be, a source of strength both personally and professionally. Because Kathleen is a fellow single mom, we were able to commiserate and support each other despite the fact that our paths to single motherhood were quite different. Even though her path to solo parenting began with her husband’s diagnosis with aggressive cancer shortly after their son was born, we bonded over a multitude of commonalities.
I consider myself privileged to call her a friend and I hope you enjoy her insights as much as I have.
Name: Kathleen Fordyce
Occupation: Freelance Writer
Website: KathleenFordyce.com; LiveLaughWrite.com
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a freelance writer and single mom living in New York. I love to travel, read books and spend lots of quality time with my feet buried in the sand.
2. How many children do you have?
I have one son, Logan, who just turned 7.
3. What has changed the most since you became a single mom?
Everything!! My husband was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer right after our son was born, so from the moment I became a mom, I have been tasked with being a sole breadwinner and sole caretaker. From the moment Logan was born, my priorities, day-to-day routine, approach to my career and perspective on life all changed. I love what I do and have many goals I am working towards, but now I view them in the long-term and work to balance them with my desire to spend a lot of quality time with my little guy.
I officially became a single mom when my husband passed away five years ago, but by that point, I had become very used to being the sole adult taking care of our little family.
4. When you have one of those days…you know the kind I am talking about…and you have to dig down deep…what is it exactly that helps you pull through?
My husband died at a young age – 29. So even though I have very difficult days, losing him has helped me to bring life’s stresses into perspective. Don’t get me wrong – I still stress out over money, get mad at how my son leaves his socks strewn around the house and get overwhelmed with trying to balance it all.
But when I am having one of those days where nothing is going right – I have back-to-back deadlines, the house is a disaster, and my son is throwing a tantrum – I try to take a deep breath and remember I am so lucky to be here.
I am lucky to see him grow up. And I remember how I want our life to be and why I am juggling all of these balls in first place. Being able to care for my son, enjoy our relationship, travel the world together and support us financially is my biggest accomplishment to date and I never let myself forget it.
I also remind myself that no one ever said being a single mom would be easy. Hell, no one said life would be easy. But it sure is worth it.
5. Who are your role models in life?
My father is one of my biggest role models. He has worked incredibly hard to achieve the success he has and I know it hasn’t always been easy. He has a very demanding schedule, gets little sleep, travels constantly but never complains and never hesitates to jump in and help if someone needs it. I have never once heard him utter a complaint. (Whereas I lament about hard things are almost daily.)
I also look up to the many successful women – mothers and non-mothers alike. I love seeing people forge their own path and live life on their own terms.
6. What do you think is the biggest misconception about single mothers?
That we are desperate for a husband. That we are poor. That we cannot care for our families. And that our children are being raised in unstable environments.
7. And…ugh…what is the worst thing someone has said to you about being an unmarried parent?
Hmm…this is a tough one. The looks and sighs of pity are pretty bad. I think the question that annoys me the most is “When are you getting married?” or “Aren’t you going to settle down for your son?”
Of course it will be great if I one day fall in love and meet a wonderful partner, but if not, that’s ok, too. I am not waiting around for Prince Charming to come riding in on his white horse. I plan to live fully no matter what happens and I refuse to settle. I will remarry only if and when someone inspires me to do so.
There are lots of mediocre things in this life and I don’t think love should be one of them.
8. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received about (single) motherhood?
Early on, when I was concerned about how my son would deal with his father’s death as he grew up (he was only 1 when my husband died) a therapist told me not to impart my thoughts about what life would have been like on my son. He was so young, so his loss was very different from mine.
That piece of advice made me stop thinking about how things should, would or could have been. Every family is different, even if they look the same from the outside. And everyone is dealt a different hand in life – even traditional families have their challenges – and all that matters is what you do with it. So that is what I focus on: making the best of the life we lead.
9. What makes your heart sing?
My son’s smile and laugh. The feel of his arms around my neck. Traveling and exploring new places. Spending time with my best friends.
10. What perspective is missing in the broader single mom narrative that exists in this country?
In most of the stories that have circulated recently about work/life balance and how women are managing to be successful and parent, single moms are left out of the conversation. Many of these stories focus on traditional families and I think they need to do a better job of acknowledging that the American family is changing. Not just in regards to single parent families, but also realizing that few jobs are 9 to 5, too.
11. And how are you #RebrandingTheSingleMom®?
I used to be more shy about the fact that I am a single mom due to all the comments, questions and stereotypes, but now I am more vocal and proud of my status as a single mom. I am more confident in my choices of pursuing my career, balancing work and motherhood, caring for our household and traveling alone with my child (which people find to be really odd, for some reason).
12. What is the single biggest surprise you learned about being a single mom AFTER you became one yourself?
How happy I could be. Like many single moms, I never imagined myself becoming a single mother. I was devastated and overwhelmed when soon after my son was born, doctors told us my husband was terminal. Life as a single mom is without a doubt difficult and more challenging than I ever could have imagine, but it is also fulfilling and amazing. I am grateful for the unique relationship my son and I have because it is “just us.” I am proud of life we have.
Of course I wish that my husband was still here, but I never would have imagined that we could bounce back from the loss as we have. I think he would proud. I know I am.
If you are interested in sharing your story – drop me a line here!