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It was late at night when my e-mail pinged with a Google alert.
I have several set up as my attempt to remain on top of stories that might be
relevant to me and my life.
This one in particular was for the search term "single mom."
Typically what this alert produces is stories on statistics
about single moms (always more depressing than the reality I myself live as a
single mom by choice) and uplifting tales of single moms who are making it work
(the stories I prefer to read).
This alert was a little different, though. It was a link to
Craigslist ad, the contents of which had me catching my breath in excitement as
Single Mom of One Seeking Single Mom of One (Share a House with Me)
I am a single mom of one little girl just about 9 years old. I'm
in search of another single mom of one, preferably a little girl close to the
same age to create a support system for one another. If the title grabbed your
interest then I'm sure you may be aware as to how challenging it is to be a
single mom with little to no support. My goal for this post I must admit is a
very unique idea, here in Chicago, the school system is failing our children,
the neighborhoods that are kid friendly are difficult to navigate, childcare is
astronomically expensive and the daily stress of being a single mom is
So here's a proposal to the right fit (if this is at all
As singles without children it's fairly easy to find roommates
that are like minded and likely in the same position in life. As single moms,
we hardly if ever explore the possibility of "roommates." However if
the right fit were able to be paired this could be an amazing opportunity for
all parties involved and very beneficial to elevate ourselves to the next
level. I'd like to share a great apartment or house (that I otherwise could not
afford or just wouldn't be ideal for a single income) in a great area with an
amazing school district.
The benefits of this arrangement are endless... -Able to live in a spacious place -Splitting the cost of living 50/50 (huge financial benefit) -The support of having another person available for emergencies -Two little girls having one another -Ability to really save and not live pay check to pay check -Emotional support -Carpool -Sharing in the busy day to day tasks (household chores, errands, groceries,
etc.) -Possible outings and vacations that are otherwise challenging
I want her to have everything she would have if she were living in a two-parent home.
The ad itself was written by a mom in Chicago—thousands of miles
away from where I live. But the concept was brilliant to me. I've long talked
about how, as a single mom, I often wish I could purchase a plot of land and
parent alongside some of my best friends. While I manage the daily duties of
parenting pretty well, there is absolutely something to be said for having
another adult there—someone to lean on and talk to and someone to share some
of the responsibilities with. I've always believed that if I couldn't find a
romantic partner to do that with, co-parenting with a close friend would
certainly be a close second.
As such, I knew I had to reach out to this mom, if for no other
reason than to talk to her about what she was searching for and what she was
hoping to achieve. I'd never seen anything like this before, and I was curious what had prompted it.
I got so much more than I had hoped for when TaQuilla
Caradine, author of the original post, made time to chat with me on the phone.
Caradine has been working as a cosmetologist for nearly 10 years
now, but she is also currently in school pursuing a Human Resources degree. Her
daughter turns 9 this month, and while her ex is in the picture (taking their
daughter every other weekend), the bulk of the parenting responsibilities fall
on Caradine's shoulders.
"There is no cohesive co-parenting," she explained to me. "No
conscious uncoupling." She is the one who takes her daughter to gymnastics,
swim and school. She's the one who does the afterschool homework and enforces
the rules. She makes all the major parenting decisions.
Meanwhile her ex serves more as a babysitter during his few days a
month with their daughter.
I can certainly relate to what it means to parent entirely on
ones own. And I admire Caradine's desire to continue improving not only her
life, but also her daughter's.
"I work really hard to give her a life where she doesn't feel
like she's missing anything," she told me. "I want her to have everything she
would have if she were living in a two-parent home, which is part of what led
me to this idea."
In Chicago, Caradine explained, there are a ton of different
neighborhoods that all provide a different culture and atmosphere. Within those
neighborhoods, there are charter schools, selective enrollment schools, magnet schools,
lottery schools and public schools. Unfortunately, the education a child gets
at any one of these can be drastically different from what their peers are
getting at a similar school just a few miles away. Living in the right neighborhood can be crucial to a child's
Caradine does pretty well financially, she told me, but what she
could have been living quite comfortably on as a childless woman is obviously
spread more thin as a single mom. So Caradine makes sacrifices so her daughter
doesn't have to, including camping outside a highly sought after summer camp
enrollment center one night so that she could be first in line to get her
daughter a spot.
What I saw my entire life was women helping women—aunties, grandmas, mothers, all coming together to support each other.
Caradine is a good mom. A loving mom. A committed mom.
But she's also a mom who is perhaps spread too thin. A mom who
has started to fantasize about the benefits of teaming up with another single
mom in order to truly provide for her daughter all the advantages of a two-parent home, and in order to have the emotional support for herself that
could go hand-in-hand with having another adult in the home.
"I grew up in a pretty matriarchal family," she explained to me.
"What I saw my entire life was women helping women—aunties, grandmas, mothers,
all coming together to support each other. It made me realize that women really
can accomplish great things when they work together."
Caradine is fresh off a relationship that she described as
extremely loving and supportive. Unfortunately, her boyfriend had to move
because of a job opportunity, and she couldn't follow, because doing so would
have meant taking her daughter away from the two weekends a month she gets with
She knows what it means to sacrifice for her daughter's best
Still, since that breakup, Caradine has been passionate about
focusing on some of her dreams and pursuing them without the distraction of
a romantic love. "Sometimes, as women," she explained, "We lose sight of our
own goals when there are men in the picture. I want my daughter to have the
stability of two adults in the home, but I don't want to lose track of my own
goals in the pursuit of that. I want her to see me striving for and achieving
my dreams. With the right match, I really think that becomes more attainable."
In addition to the pursuit of her HR degree, Caradine is also
hoping to develop a website she's been conceptualizing for years, a space that
would be all about fostering the types of relationships she has become such a
proponent for: Women and mothers helping each other, either through advice
about certain neighborhoods, schools and job opportunities, or through
facilitating exactly the type of living arrangement Caradine is now seeking for
herself and her daughter.
"It's really two-fold," she told me. "By home-sharing like this,
we all benefit by being able to stay in a nicer home in a nicer neighborhood
with better schools than what most single moms could afford on their own. But
there is also the benefit for my daughter of being able to experience an almost
sibling-type relationship, of having another child in the home she is growing
up alongside. And for me, there would be the benefit of having another adult to
talk to. It's the kind of situation where if one of you had a really bad day at
work, the other could say, 'Go take a bath. I'm going to take the girls to get
some ice cream.' It's just … having someone there to share some of that
responsibility with—to team up together to make it easier for you both."
I'm sure most single moms can admit, the thought of that sounds
So far, Caradine has received a few promising responses. One in
particular she was quite excited about. "She and her daughter are from a
different cultural background than us, too," she told me. "One of the benefits
of this 'modern family' venture could be the possible cultural exchange, which
I think would be a huge benefit for our children to grow up learning to accept
others and build upon a true understanding of and appreciation for our
This is a way not only for us to give our kids the best, but also for us to give ourselves the best.
Of course, I asked Caradine how she planned to handle the
potential conflicts such an arrangement could bring. Roommate disasters are,
after all, one thing to deal with while single and childless—it's an entirely
different ballgame if your roommate is living a lifestyle you're uncomfortable
with while your child is under the same roof.
How do you handle a roommate who is bringing men home on the
regular? Or who drinks a bit too much? Or who has a temper you don't feel comfortable having your child
"Let me be clear," Caradine told me in response. "I'm not
looking to make this arrangement happen tomorrow. I want us to have compatibility
meetings, where they spend time at our house to see how we live, and we do the
same. I want us to make sure our kids get along, and for us to talk about all
those potential roommate issues far in advance. I almost want us to have a
pre-nuptial agreement for our living arrangement, if that makes sense, where we
agree on several terms before we ever move in together, and where we maintain a
fund of money that is set aside specifically for the expenses of moving again,
should it turn out that this arrangement doesn't work in the end."
"But I think if you're smart about it," she went on. "This type
of living arrangement could actually be much more stable than moving your child
in with a romantic partner. Women are strong, and they are loyal. And at the
end of the day, most just want to do what is best for their kids. I truly
believe that if we find the right match, this could be a mutually beneficial
relationship for a long time to come. This is a way not only for us to give our
kids the best, but also for us to give ourselves the best—the extra time and
support necessary to achieve our own goals sooner. I really believe there are a
ton of benefits if you can find the right match. Don't think of it as
roommates, think of it as two moms helping each other and living life."
When Caradine talks about this idea, I can hear the passion in
her voice. She waxes poetic about the potential for making this a movement—for
convincing women that there really is so much to be gained by relying on each
The statistics for single moms and their kids aren't great. They
are more likely to live in poverty, more likely to face trouble with the law,
and their children are less likely to be successful in school.
Could co-habitating have the potential to improve those odds?
Caradine believes so. And for her, it starts with finding the
perfect match to home-share with. But ultimately, she hopes it might just evolve
into an entirely new way of being a single mother.