Episode 11: "Sexy, Single Motherhood - A Growing Trend" with Rachel Sarah

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In this interview Alissa interviews a bold and courageous thirty-five year old woman, Rachel Sarah who has been raising her daughter, without a husband, since Mae was born. Single motherhood is a growing trend among women and we get the inside track on how that kind of choice affects a woman’s life. No longer waiting to find “Mr. Right” women are taking charge of their lives and their desire to have children in very non-traditional ways. We talk with Rachel about her decision to have a baby with a man she knew wasn’t very stable and all that she has learned on her journey as a woman and a mother thus far. We talk about raising a “bi-racial” baby, the importance of sisterhood, the challenges of being single and raising a child, the benefits of being a single mother, and we get Rachel’s perspective on this growing trend called Lovership, that bridges the gap between dating and long-term relationships. Rachel also talks about research findings stating children who come from single-parent homes thrive just as well as academically as children in two-parent homes…interesting. And in some cases, children in unhealthy two-parent homes need more assistance and attention. In the last segment we get the benefit of hearing a few words from Rachel’s beautiful daughter Mae about life with her mom. A poignant and important interview to share with women, I hope all women everywhere will be inspired rise above social norms, societal judgment and reflexive prejudice to make choices they deem important as modern, dynamic women.

Transcript

“Sexy, Single Motherhood – A Growing Trend” with Rachel Sarah

This program is brought to you by personallifemedia.com

[intro music]

Alissa Kriteman: Welcome to “Just For Women – Dating, Relationships and Sex”.  I’m your host, Alissa Kriteman.  Today on our show, we have Rachel Sarah, single mom extraordinaire, who is part of a strong and growing trend of women who are doing it for themselves by raising children without a husband.

In this show, we’ll talk to Rachel about her personal experience as a single mom.  We’ll talk about this trend of single motherhood prevalent in society today.  What she has to deal with, being a  hip, young, single, pretty, dynamic woman who’s also raising a child.

Listeners, today we’re going to discuss what’s going on for women that has single motherhood now as a viable and acceptable option in our society today.  We’re going to talk about the pros and cons of single motherhood, how to figure out what your own red flags are, and why it’s so important to enjoy being single, and the many ways to do that. 

[music interlude]

Rachel Sarah: And I talked about what it’s like to date as a single mom and there were quite a few women there who got pregnant through sperm donor and then dated as single moms when they were pregnant.  And actually wrote a piece about it in Pregnancy magazine.  You can look it up about dating when you’re pregnant and single. 

I called our group our “tribe” and we call each other everyday and often we call each other to absolve.  We tell each other…like I’ll say  “Oh he screamed at me this morning.  I was so impatient.  We were late for school”.  And they’ll always tell me “It’s ok, it’s ok”. 

Alissa:  What did they call that?  Confession?  You’re each other’s confessionals. [laughs]

__________________________

Alissa: How does May react? What does she say when people ask her “Do you have a daddy?”, because I’m sure, in school that comes up. 

Rachel: Right.  Especially, it used to come up a lot in preschool.  She has blown me away.  She says, “Yes, I have a birth father and his name is Eric, and he wasn’t able to take care of me. And so my mommy takes care of me”.

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Rachel: In the past, I’ve really attracted men who are in their mid to late forties, never married [laughs], true bachelors and they really, really want to have a child.  And they make the assumption, “Oh my gosh, she’s young, she’s in her late thirties.  She already has a child”.  And then they see me as a mom.  “She’s perfect. Ok that’s it.  When shall we get started?”.

________________________

Alissa: Anytime we have any kind of reaction,  I wish our viewers could see the kitten right now who’s flipped outside down with her paws over her head [laughs].  That is the cutest thing I have ever seen!  How kittens are just so free and exposed.

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Alissa: Welcome, Rachel.  Thank you so much for being on the show.

Rachel: Thanks so much for having me, Alissa.
Alissa: Oh, it’s a pleasure.  I want to say that we have a special, special treat today.  I’m very excited to talk a little later.  I’m going to introduce May, who is Rachel’s beautiful, gorgeous, vibrant daughter who gave me my own special painted bindi a little earlier.

So, let me tell you a little bit about Rachel Sarah.  She is a romance columnist for San Francisco’s “J.”, the Jewish news weekly of northern California.  She has her own column “Single Mom Seeking” on Literary Mama about single motherhood and dating.  She’s a regular contributor to Pregnancy magazine and is the single parenting expert on lifetimetv.com, which launches in June.  Rachel’s writing has also appeared in Family Circle, Parenting, Tango, Miss, Baby Center, Pregnancy, Huffington Post, Washington Post and the Christian Science Monitor.  Wow, that’s a long list! She’s author of “Single Mom Seeking – Playdates, Blind Dates and Other Dispatches from the Dating World”, which is an amazing book about your personal, poignant experiences and the whole process, so I highly recommend this book to any single mom doing it for herself out there. Rachel presently lives in the Bay Area, and she’s working, dating and raising her own seven-year old May, who we will talk to in a little bit. 

So Rachel, first of all, I just want to acknowledge you.  It is my distinct pleasure to interview you—a pioneer woman who is raising the bar and offering a different kind of way to live for all women.  So I just want to say thank you.  This is what my show is about.  This is why I exist.  This is what I want to do.  I  want to connect all women with people like you who are writing books and sharing their stories, you know, learnings, heart-wrenching stories, and really raising what it is to be a woman in society today.  So I just want to say thank you for all that you go through to bring that to the world.

Rachel: Thank you so much.  Thanks.  I appreciate it.

Alissa:  You’re welcome.  So let’s see here…You say in your book “Single Mom Seeking” that you never really learn to date and that you fall hard.  You were never really good at keeping boundaries.  What pearls have you learned in the past few years about dating and relating with men?

Rachel: Yes, it’s ironic that it wasn’t until I became a single mom that I actually learned how to date.  All through my twenties, I was the kind of woman who thought “Oh, he’s cute.  He’s hot.  Sure, I’ll go out with him”.  I didn’t ask questions, and revealed way too much about myself, so having a child has raised the bar.  My standards are very high now.

Alissa: Yeah, I can imagine.  So what is that like?  What is that like when you’re on a date and you know, you’re getting to know each other.  How do men react when you say you have a daughter? 

Rachel: It’s been such a positive experience. For me, maybe it’s the way I carry myself.  I love being a mom.  My daughter means the world to me.  So that’s how I present myself.  I really keep my head high, and so I think men see that, and across the board, I have met men who are so interested in the fact that I have a child, and well, if they’re not, then sorry I’m not interested in them.  And definitely online, it’s really easy to weed out, because you can actually check the box, you know, I have children, I’d say I’m a single mom.  So I put myself out there.  It’s been really easy dating as a single mom.

Alissa: Nice.  It’s so good to hear that, because I would think for some reason I thought it might be a little difficult.  But you know, Allison Armstrong who writes a lot about understanding men, talks about women sorting, and it’s a pretty clear indicator (?). It’s a great way to sort through men, right? You’re not interested, they’re out. 

Rachel: Exactly.  I’m a huge sorter.  And I tell women, you got to sort, especially even before you meet a man.  You got to figure out through a telephone conversation or emails.  I think it’s really easy to weed them out.  And the other thing I want to add is, there are so many divorced dads out there today.  It’s of course these men  are really interested in meeting women who understand what they’re trying to balance and so today with the divorce rate, there’s lots of single parents out there.

Alissa: Yes.  In my research, I’ve read that it’s like fifty-one percent which is one of the things, you know, one of those things I love to cover in the show---it’s the state of marriage.  So, do you want to get married again?

Rachel: I was married once before but that’s a whole another story.  But yes, I’m definitely open to it.  But not at all desperate.

Alissa: Well, let’s talk about that.  So you were married before and tell me a little bit about how you came…because in your book you’re very clear that you were dating a man who you knew was bipolar.  And it might be a little sensitive subject, but I hope that we can talk about it.  You know, bipolar and struggling with alcoholism, and yet something in your heart, “I want to have a child with this man”.  Can you talk to us a little bit about what that whole emotional sort of like, roller-coaster was like for you.

Rachel: Well, in a nutshell, I think it was the baby clock ticking, although I was just twenty-eight, so…

Alissa: That’s a quick clock. [laughs]

Rachel: So I just decided to go for it and in hindsight of course, I had my blinders on.  I think I saw these great jeans that I wanted.  So the way that I talk about myself is yes, I feel like I’m an accidental advocate for single parents because I didn’t go into this planning to be a single mom, and now I feel it’s the greatests blessing in my life that I’m a mom.  And moreover, that I’m doing this on my own.  I think it would be at this point so much difficult, more difficult dealing with a partner who is alcoholic and so, doing it on my own, my daughter is growing up in such a healthy environment.

Alissa: So it’s almost a blessing that he left.  But tell me what was going  through your mind.  It was almost as though…so you thought at twenty-eight, your clock was ticking, and no matter what, you wanted to go for it.  I mean, did you think abortion, or was that just not an option for you?

Rachel: Oh, it was huge.  I thought about it for weeks.  I mean, was obsessed about it.  Talked to all my girlfriends and really was up in the air.   But my guts said I’m going to go for it.  And I had also at the time, inherited a tiny bit of money.  I was working as a researcher, fact checker at the time, so I was making ok salary, but not a lot, and so I decided, you know what?  This might be my chance to actually have a baby.  I don’t know if that will ever come along again.  Of course it would have. [laughs]

Alissa: [laughs] Interesting.  So there was a little bit of fear factor, maybe? I just want to get up under what was going on for you, because single motherhood is approached many ways nowadays.  You know, women…we all think of “Sex and the City”, and I forget the woman…but, she’s like “I’m going to have a baby on my own. I have the resources”.  So there’s so many ways women can come to single motherhood, but for you, your story is a little bit different.  And in your book, you say that you saw signs.  That you thought Eric wouldn’t be able to handle an ongoing relationship even for himself.  Never mind raising a child.  And yet, you were willing to take that on. 

Rachel: Yes.  As my mother has often said about me, she said, “Oh Rachel, you seem to find the wounded birds and you try and fix their wings”.  And I think I’m out of that pattern now as I approach thirty-five.  But I definitely would seem to have a radar for wounded men and thought “Yes, this I can do”, and unfortunately,  you know you can’t.

Alissa: Did you think you can change him?

Rachel: Oh of course.  Yes, I did.  Another interesting thing I wanted to add I just last month was at a conference for choosing single motherhood which was at UC Berkeley, and the conference was basically women who are in their late thirties, forties who really want to have a child and they’re not…you know, they’re struggling, they’re taking…most of the women there were taking fertility drugs, looking into adoption, and so I was by far, the youngest speaker, and so I have found it really really interesting, if I didn’t have a child at this point, turning thirty-five, I would probably be in this space of “Oh my gosh, I’m single, I really really want to have a baby.  How am I going to do it?”.  So it’s interesting how life turns out.

Alissa: Oh my god, I wish I was there.  So it was a conference for women who are at a place in their life where they don’t necessarily have a man, or a woman;  they aren’t in a relationship; they’re not in a partnership but there is a whole support system for women who want to have babies on their own.

Rachel: Yes, it’s huge.  If you go to the website choosingsinglemotherhood.com, and this specific conference, there were over two hundred women there from all over the country.  So many women flew in—all kinds of experts.  And I talked about “To Date As A Single Mom”, and there were quite a few women who got pregnant through sperm donor and then dated as single moms when they were pregnant.  And actually wrote a piece about it in Pregnancy magazine.  You can look it up about dating when you’re pregnant and single. 

Alissa: See, this is what I love.  We have come such a long way, which is why I wanted to talk to you.  So Rachel, you said your mother described you as “finding the wounded ones”.  So what did she think about you becoming a single mother?

Rachel: Initially, she burst into tears on the phone.  She actually used the words “out-of-wedlock child”.  Of course, I got furious at her and she was really concerned about the fact that I was having a child who’s biracial.  I’m white, and May’s father Eric is African-American.  And so, she was beside herself worried.  So then my mother ended up flying into New York City, just literally as I was pushing May into the world at a birthing center there, and so my mother saw May, hours after she was born and fell in love with her.  Since then, has never uttered a word about “out-of-wedlock child”, “biracial”…I mean it’s just true love.

Alissa: Nice.  So at first, she was a little bit apprehensive, and of course, when she saw her was totally supportive.  Talk to me about what it was like, because in your book, you talk about this real push-pull with you and Eric, the father.  May’s father.  Even though you knew he wasn’t going to be responsible and supportive, your heart was still torn and you would still sort of consider him.  It seemed like you were holding on to this dream of what that could be like with him.  So how did you finally know this wasn’t going to happen and you had to let go?

Rachel: Well, we could go into all my years of therapy here.[laughs]  How much time do you have?  So I think it’s really common for women, and I think I have fallen into this pattern many, many times to really focus on the man instead of really looking at yourself, and like, looking at him as…I guess you caught the whole co-dependency thing.  So I fell really hard into that.  In another show, I talked all about my childhood.

Alissa: No, I think it’s really great because I think it’s a key piece, so it sounds like you went through a lot of therapy to start to understand how you were unconsciously codependent, maybe hoping, wishing, like not in reality, really.

Rachel: Completely in fantasy world, yes.  And I constantly catch myself all the time, creating, you know, meeting someone first date, and like, “boom, boom, boom!”, I just see us walking down the altar, and I really need to “Hold on a minute, Rachel”. [laughs]

Alissa: Where do you think you got that from?  Do you think that was something you grew up with?  That it was ingrained in you as a child?

Rachel: I really think American culture.  I mean, my goodness, the fairy tales that my daughter has that I read, and fortunately now, there are alternatives to all of these fairy tales.  And my mother’s a poet, so yes, the dream.  I think we all have it in some way.  Especially as women, we need to be really careful.  I have fallen very hard, yeah.

Alissa: It’s interesting, the more I interview different authors about this societal prince charming syndrome…I mean, they’re really calling it “prince charming syndrome”.  And we do.  We’re conditioned that Prince Charming is going to come and save us and take care of certain things.  That’s why I really enjoy meeting and talking with women like you because you’re really bucking that system.  And you’re saying maybe you did think that unconsciously, but now, you realize there’s a whole lot of opportunity there for you to raise a child on your own.  And when we come back, I want to talk about your own dreams, you know, the time that you…What do you do to take care of yourself?  As, oh my goodness, a woman who’s managing so much in her life.  So we’ll be right back.  This is Alissa Kriteman.  Just For Women---Dating, Relationships and Sex.  I’m talking with Rachel Sarah.  We’ll be right back. [music]

Narrator:  This program is proudly sponsored by “Meet The Dreamer”, Alissa’s four cornerstones to living your dreams—the new book, by Alissa Kriteman.  Create the life you want at meetthedreamer.com.

[musical interlude]

Alissa:  Welcome back.  I’m Alissa Kriteman, your host for Just for Women---Dating, Relationships and Sex.  We’re speaking with Rachel Sarah about the wild, magical, wonderful world of being a single mom.  Before the break, we were talking with Rachel about her personal story and how she got to be the fabulous single mother that she is.  Now, we’re going to talk a little bit about how she takes care of herself and what are some of the pros and cons of being a single mother and then get a little bit deeper into these red flags she mentioned earlier.  So, Rachel, what do you do?  You work, you have a daughter.  How do you manage to take care of yourself and stay strong?  Do you have goals?  Do you have dreams?  How do you manage all of that?

Rachel:  Get plenty of sleep.  I often end up crashing with my daughter at night right here, and I wake up really early, and that’s my time.  When single moms ask me “How do you date, how do you get back out there?”,  the first thing I always say is, “Before anything else, if you have any time—a little chunk of time, take that time for yourself.  First take a bath, go for a walk, go see a movie.  Be by yourself.  It’s not about using that free hour and going to find a date.  My teeny nuggets of time, I take a walk around the block and I go swimming.  So,yes, for myself.  Tonight, in fact, my daughter’s going on overnight at a friend’s house and I didn’t think, “Wow, tonight I can go on a date. I’ve had a couple of offers”.  But no, I really don’t want to. I  called my two best single mom friends, and we’re going to go meet for a glass of wine and talk.  I’m just so excited. [laughs]

Alissa: You know, that’s a good point.  Sisterhood and girl time, and really connecting with your women.  Talk to me a little bit about the importance of that.

Rachel:  When I moved back to California, the Bay area, when my daughter was two, I knew nobody here, and I was keeping my eyes out for single moms and boom!  A month after I moved here, I spotted this amazing woman at the playground who was dressed in this fake fur outfit, and we started chatting and she told me she was in the middle of a divorce.  We connected, and since then, every Wednesday night, for the past four years, we get together with our girls and we make dinner, and we talk. And we’ve added another mom to our mix who has a daughter our age.  I called our group our “tribe” and we call each other everyday and often we call each other to absolve.  We tell each other…like I’ll say  “Oh I screamed at May this morning.  I was so impatient.  We were late for school”.  And they’ll always tell me “It’s ok, it’s ok”. 

Alissa:  What did they call that?  Confession?  You’re each other’s confessionals. [laughs]  So what if woman don’t have a ‘tribe’?  Or a close-knit family available where they are?  What do you recommend?

Rachel:  It’s crucial, I think.  Even if it’s an online community.  Of course, ideally, you need to have people in person.  Just the basic things like swapping child care, because baby-sitting expenses are so expensive.  They really don’t necessarily have to be single parent friends, but find family’s in your child’s school.  They’re married, but you really get along, you really hit it off.  That’s where also I found a lot of great role models for my daughter.  We know a few families.  I just adore them.  They have great relationships and my daughter will see she’ll go home with her dad and his daughter, and play, yeah, that’s great.

Alissa: That’s interesting.  You bring up an interesting point here.  Because there’s not a father present here, sounds like, May gets to have contact with other kinds of men.  I would think…I don’t know.  Is your father involved?  And then, so there’s that question.  How does she get her male influences?

Rachel: Oh, she gets it. [laughs] This weekend, in fact, one afternoon, we are spending a whole day with my  stepfather.  He has a pool in his little condo development.  We’ll go swimming with him.  And the next day, we’re going to San Francisco to meet my father, and hang out and cook for him.  My father spends every single Monday with my daughter.  He picks her up from school.  They are a team.  And in fact, when she was two, she wasn’t able to say “grandpa”.  She called him “Pa”.  He’s the guy, yeah.

Alissa: You know it’s interesting earlier you mentioned you’d rather be a single mom than  in a destructive relationship with someone who’s got alcoholism or some kind of issue like that.  It makes a lot of sense!  It’s not as though there’ll be an absence of men.  There’s actually a lot of men that you’re meeting that May gets to have the benefit of.  But one question I have about that is, how do you know when to introduce her to these men that you’re dating, and how do men react knowing that she is your first priority?  You are probably your second priority.  And that would leave him third.  So talk about that dynamic.

Rachel: Sure, I’d love to.  There’s actually some recent studies, because there’s a lot of negative press about single moms and now, finally at last, they’re doing studies of single moms who have a support community, who have extended family, grandparents, aunts and uncles.  Those kids are doing really, really well.  Like all those studies you read about---all single moms, their kids live in poverty and are doing so poorly in school.  But these single moms who have a great community, it’s actually, the studies are showing,  they’re doing as well as, if not, better academically, socially, emotionally, than kids with married parents.   Because a lot of parents who are married might be fighting for years and years, and these kids of single parent families aren’t growing up with that.  So I just wanted to add that. 

So, how do you know when it’s time to introduce a man?  Oh my goodness.  My basic motto is: “Keep the kids out of it”. And of course, realistically, talk to any single parent and she has introduced her child to somebody.  So, it completely depends on a child’s age.  I mean, if you have a child in preschool, you can completely get away with you’ve been seeing somebody for a few months.  This guy has passed every single relationship test so far.  And you can just say, “Oh honey, we’re just going out to get some ice cream with a new friend of mine”.  And for a preschooler, that’s just normal, you know, going out for ice cream.  For my daughter now, age seven, she knows what a boyfriend is.  I can’t get away with that.

Alissa: How does May react? What does she say when people ask her “Do you have a daddy?”, because I’m sure, in school that comes up. 

Rachel: Right.  Especially, it used to come up a lot in preschool.  She has blown me away.  She says, “Yes, I have a birth father and his name is Eric, and he wasn’t able to take care of me. And so my mommy takes care of me”.  She came up with this word on her own.  Birth father. And I’m sure it’s from growing up here in the Bay area.

Alissa: I love that!  I really do.  I love that.  Amazingly for you, you were in New York.  Did you move to the Bay area because it was more progressive, more acceptable?  Did you find problems in New York?

Rachel: I did.  My main reason for moving back to the Bay area was, my family’s here.  But, I was blown away in New York—such a metropolitan city.  I was asked many, many times, carrying May around as a baby, where I adopted her.  She’s biracial.  Some people just assumed that.  So I would point to my belly and say “She came right from here”.  They usually get all that embarrassed.

Alissa: Isn’t that wild?  Because here in the Bay area, there’s all kinds of ---you call it, blended? And sort of racially mixed families.  And it’s great that that has a sort of home here and that it’s encouraged here. What is it like for your blood family?  Do you have sisters?  Do you have brothers? What do they think?  How do they support you? 

Rachel: I have one sister.  She’s just a year younger than me.  Rebecca.  And she lives in San Francisco.  And she best aunt.  She is so good with kids.  Always has been.  And my daughter, May, adores her.  We see her at least once a week with her dog. 

Alissa: Nice.  What would you say are the benefits?  I mean, clearly, you’ve talked about some of the frustrations a little bit.  How it can be a little strange dating as a single mother.  But what are some of the benefits? 

Rachel:  Of being a single mom?  Well, who wouldn’t want that one-on-one attention? [laughs]  And that was the interesting thing about my last relationship. I was in a first long-term relationship.  It was after being a single mom for five years.  My daughter was not used to sharing me at the dinner table conversation.  She has in her life, up until now, we chat at the dinner table.  The two of us.  She tells me about her day.  I tell her about my day.  She wasn’t used to this guy who’s been wanting to talk about his job and so, my goodness, her vocabulary from a very, very early age, just was so big.  And I really credit that to my talking to her as if she’s a person.  Yes.

Alissa: Well that’s good.  Because I would think that that’s important.  Especially, if you start dating someone and he’s around.  And how do you deal with having an intimate relationship with a man in a house with a seven-year old.  [laughs]

Rachel: First, make sure that your child has her own room [laughs].  Because my daughter actually slept with me till she was four, so that transition was huge.  Moving her into her own room.  And I think it’s just like anything else.  We’re always needing to create boundaries with our children, and I’ll be the first to admit,  I’m not very good at that.  So, intimate boundaries is another one.  First thing that comes to mind, if I’m going to have anybody over, my daughter’s not going to be here.  She’s going to have an overnight at her friend’s and she’s going to be having a ball herself.

Alissa: I guess that’s one way to do it.  Have her not around.  But, she’s at the age where she can do that.  What about…what was it like for you when she wasn’t old enough to have sleepovers?

Rachel: Oh, you’re going to make me tell all my secrets?

[laughter in the background]

Alissa: Or at least some strategies for maybe, some other single moms who are in that predicament.  Like, is there some nugget, you know?

Rachel: Don’t do what I did, which is, I, on more than one occasion,when my daughter was sleeping in her room, you know, snuck somebody in late at night, then snuck him out again.  Unfortunately, I was not caught.  I do not recommend that. [laughs]

Alissa: Yeah, yeah.  What’s it like for the guy? To be snuck in and out?

Rachel: Well, honestly, I think it’s kind of exciting for them. Yeah. [laughs]

Alissa: Yeah, this is his whole allure of the naughty kind of thing.

Rachel: Right. Oh yeah, and there’s this like, “Oh, five minutes longer.”, and I’m putting my foot down.  “No, you got to go”.  Yeah. [laughs]

Alissa: Have you ever run across some weird guys who have like, a fetish for lactating women?  You write about that in your book and it’s really funny.  I never really thought about that.  Have you ever had any kind of experiences like that? [laughs]

Rachel: Right.  Well, that one, you’ll have to read all about it.  [laughs]

Alissa: So guys wanting to [xx], foreplay, puzzles..no, no.  Well, definitely, there’s some weird guys.  But I have to say, now at this point, being a mom, I’m really attracted to those kind of family guys.  The kind who have lot of friends, who have barbecues on the weekends.  And the more weirdo, they just fall off the end of their…[laughs]

Rachel: Does it seem like the guys who are interested in you have children themselves? Or have they never been married? Divorced? What’s the kind of mainstream pulse of men who are attracted to you? 

Alissa: Well, personally, my mainstream pulse is changing right now because I have decided from here on out, I’m going to start looking more at the divorced men who can understand the kid factor.  I’ve heard this, that unfortunately, trying to actually plan a date with a divorced man, especially when they have more than one child, is like, it might take weeks before you actually go on a date, because between both your schedules, it’s very difficult. In the past, I’ve really attracted men who are in their mid to late forties, never married [laughs], true bachelors and they really, really want to have a child.  And they make the assumption, “Oh my gosh, she’s young, she’s in her late thirties.  She already has a child”.  And then they see me as a mom.  “She’s perfect. Ok that’s it.  When shall we get started?”.

Alissa: Nice.  So divorce without kids seems to be a good fit for you.

Rachel: Actually, divorced with…I think if my image now is like a divorced man who has a great relationship with his ex-wife, and is into personal exploration, and probably has one child, I think we could have a great conversation story. [laughs]

Alissa: Got it.  That makes sense.  So divorce understands the whole partnership thing.  Has a child.  Understand the child aspect. Because you said that, yeah.  So that makes sense. Someone who has been through it.  Has their feet grounded in what it actually takes.  That makes sense.  So you talked about red flags earlier, and one of them being a man who’s just not interested in having children which of course makes sense.  What are some keys, as you’ve gone along.  What are some ways that women can discern their own red flags.  I would think, knowing your boundaries, right?  You have to really know who you are and what you want in order to know, ok, that’s a red flag.  Do you have more insight into this whole red flag development?

Rachel: I think just being very, very observant.  So just watching for things, like, for example, if you’re in a car together, driving, somebody cuts him off, and he just explodes and starts swearing.  For me, that’s a red flag.  He’s got a bad temper.  Other things are just basics.  Like, if you’re in a restaurant together, how does he interact  the wait staff.  Is he just demanding orders? Does he snap fingers? For me, that’s sorry buddy.  Or is he really considerate and polite?  And one really basic thing for me is, does he ask any questions? For me, men in general just have a hard time asking questions.  I don’t know if they just get nervous and they just talk and talk.  So for me, that’s really important.  Does he show any curiosity [laughs] about who I am?

Alissa: It’s interesting you know.  I would think dating..I don’t know why I thought dating for you is a thousand times more different. It is and it isn’t.  But you know, still, the basics are there.  But I think…you know my question for you kind of alluded to the fact that this boundary thing.  So, how have you learned to create strong boundaries for yourself. 

Rachel: Yes.  So, it’s interesting  because I’ve been on dates with numerous men who were really pushy and wanting to extend the date, and wanting to hint come over, and that’s an automatic no for me, because  especially on a first or second date, I’ve set it up so my  daughter is having her own playdate for two or three hours and I’m gonna go pick her up.  So if he doesn’t get that right off the bat, and he’s trying to “C’mon, baby…” . He just doesn’t get it that she does come first.  And I know that’s really hard for a lot of guys, but on the other hand, I see that it’s really appealing because they see this selflessness, and caring, and devotion.

Alissa: Interesting.  I was just thinking about red flags, and the kinds of guys that will actually get into our hearts and be someone who will consider seeing past a couple of dates and you said, a man who has a great relationship with his ex-wife and I just remembered, I was dating a guy who had a less than stellar relationship with his ex-wife, and I don’t think single women who’ve never been married or have had children or any of those experiences really understand the importance of “has he signed the divorce papers?”.  Is he in a great relationship with his ex-wife?”   Or is it toxic?  You know, these things actually contribute to the red flag syndrome, but I don’t know if most dating women are really tapped into the importance of that.

Rachel: It’s huge. And I have learned this the hard way.  I was in a relationship with a man for a few months who told me he’d been separated for years.  And I just adored him. The longer we were together, and I would bring up “When are you actually gonna sit down and do the paperwork?”.  He was incapable.  I think he and his ex-wife…well, he would slip and actually say “my wife”.  See? They just couldn’t sit down and hammer out the final details and actually make the break.  And so, that was the main reason.  I realized that we won’t be able to go anywhere.  He’s still really attached to her.  And they would argue a lot as well.

Alissa: Interesting.  And so, I don’t know, I kind of want to get a little inside scoop here.  So, how do you find the time?  Like what do you do?  I know you said you take walks and things like that, but do you have…are you in therapy?  What are other things you do in your life to really support yourself, to be emotionally sober, financially stable.  All of these things that women are starting to wake up to the importance of having in their own lives.  And stop looking for Mr. Prince Charming.  And it sounds like you’ve sobered up to that too.  So, what actions do you take in your life to really be a whole woman?

Rachel: I’m working on it, Alissa.  [laughs] In fact, just yesterday, I was thinking, you know, I think I should go back to therapy.  I think that would be good for me.  And again, my friends, my tribe.  We actually talked last week, “the next time we get together, we’re gonna have a powwow and it’s gonna be about money.  We’re just going to talk about money.  All three of us.  As young women were never raised…we were never even taught how to sign a check.  And I think it’s different for boys.  And so it’s like, now here we are in our thirties, and we’re learning all of this.  And so, I highly recommend, take any kind of course, if you can.  There’s so many free courses offered.  And of course, I’m a huge reader, so I have just recently been getting books on being financially savvy as a woman. Yes.

Alissa: That’s great.  It’s great.  Because I have an interview coming up with Barbara Stanney who wrote a book “Prince Charming Isn’t Coming”, how women learn how to create wealth for themselves.  So I’m glad to know that it’s all part of the whole trend that’s happening with women. 

We’re going to take a little break, to support our sponsors.  I’m Alissa Kriteman.  This is “Just For Women—Dating, Relationships and Sex”.  I’m with Rachel Sarah and we’ll be right back.

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A: Welcome back.  This is Alissa Kriteman.  And this is “Just For Women---Dating, Relationships and Sex”.  I’m talking with Rachel Sarah about the wonderful,  wild, wacky, wonderful world of being a single mother.  So we were talking about community and sisterhood and the importance of having support in our lives.  Red flags.  And really, sobriety---emotional, financial, and how important that is for women to really take responsibility and charge up their lives.  In our twenties, in our thirties, and not hold on to this concept of  “Prince Charming is coming”.  Rachel’s been generous with us; with sharing herself and her stories.  But now we’re going to go a little deeper. 

So Rachel, tell me, what is going on in your life now?

R: Heartbreak.  I think I’ve gotten through the end of it.  I just got out of my first long-term relationship since I was a single mom.  We actually moved in together.  Short story was, it was not working.  And now I love having my own space back and my daughter’s doing so well.  But of course, I’m a sexual being.  I am not ready to dive into another committed relationship, but it would be nice to have a little boy toy on the side.

A: Ok. Here we go!  As most of my listeners know, I’ve been talking about this concept called “lovership”.  And this is a great segue into it because lovership, I’m finding, is this bridge between dating and having a long-term committed partnership.  So talk to me about being a single mother and this “boy toy” sort of concept you’ve mentioned.

R: Well, I’m sorry to say this guys, but you are kind of easy.[laughs]  Like if you talk to any guy online, you know, who’s online, they are just so eager to get one email a week.  While women are flooded with email.  I think as a woman and as a single mom, if you do want to have a little fun out there and you are really clear about your boundaries and having very strict rules for yourself.  And also, most importantly, keeping your child out of the entire little fun boy toy experience, including not letting her overhear any kind of cellphone conversation, not reading any emails, go for it! [laughs]

A: I would think that it’s quite easy to find a man who would be fine with that kind of situation.  But how do you approach it?  Do you approach it with him?  Do you sit down and talk to him about it?  Do you say this is the kind of relating I want to have?  Because under the lovership umbrella, really, what’s at the heart of it is love.  So you want a particular kind of love and relating. And so how do the men respond?  Are you open and authentic about this?  Or, how is it going?

R: Well, we’ll see how it goes.  You can touch base with me again.  Next week.  Because when I tried it years ago, I wasn’t very clear about my boundaries.  I became too emotionally attached too.  Oh, there was the guy who worked at the grocery store that I thought I was going into it just for fun, and I ended up gong too deep.  So, I have to say, I’m very upfront, one, about the fact that I’m a single mom, but two, when I was dating those last few years, I said right off the bat, I’m looking for a committed, long-term partner.  This is what I’m after, and if you’re just after fun and games, which I find that so many people on match.com are, I’m sorry, I’m not interested.  So we’ll see what happens this time around.

A: Ok, I’m confused.  So, first, we were talking about boy toys, and that is not a long-term, committed relationship.  So are you saying, what are you really looking for?

R: So, I just got out of a committed, serious relationship.  I would like to have a little fun right now.  I woulldn’t call it love.  I’d call it a little affection.  It’s not happening in the next couple of months, but I’m keeping my eyes open.  But I’m going to make it really clear that I’m doing what might actually work—it’s recreational dating.  Making it really clear with men that right now, at this point, I’m not ready to allow a partner into my life.  I’m open to it, but I think if I just start with “I know I’m not emotionally ready, so I’m not there”. Yeah, and I don’t want to close myself off to…

A: Right.  So you’re a sexual being.  You want to be intimate with a man.  You want to have sex with a man and so what’s happening is, you’re now able to have really strong boundaries and have conversations and communications with men and really create what you want for yourself, which is totally empowering.  He knows what he’s getting into.  You know what you’re getting into.   And as long as you sort of set up some guidelines and parameters at the upfront, hey, this is why we are together.  The context, the lovership, that’s what I’m noticing----really creating a context around ‘what are we here to do?’, ‘how are we serving each other’?  And so, if things come up in this sort of lovership scenario, you can actually talk about it, because you have a reference point of context that you created in the beginning. So what do you think about that?  What do you think about, I mean, clearly, you’re into it, right?  Because you’re not into a long-term committed relationship.  You just got out of one.  You’re still healing.  What are the other components and facets of a lovership for you?  What do you need?  What are you looking for to have me (?) in place, in order for you to be intimate with a man?

R: Hmmm…I mean, I’ll be the first to admit, Alissa, that once sex gets in the picture, I mean, for me,  I become emotional.  I’ll be the first to admit.  And the theory, I love the way you’re talking about it.  It sounds  great.  I want to do it.  But I’ll be the first to say, it’s difficult once intimacy passed that line, yeah, it can get a little bit messy.

A: And yeah, what you’re saying, “I want to have sex, I want to have this freedom to have sex with someone who I’m not necessarily going to have a long-term committed relationship with, and yet, once you have sex, you’re intimately bonded.  So are we just deluding ourselves?  That we can have a lovership?

R: I’m afraid so.  Especially how women are wired, and I guess I can speak for myself.  I am very emotional and sensitive and so,  just sex for sex’s sake, I haven’t been able to do it. Yeah, ‘do it’. [laughs]. Yeah.

A: You haven’t been able to actually have a boy toy relationship?

R: No.  I thought that I could, but he didn’t see me crying into the pillow after he decided this isn’t working.

A: It’s fascinating because I’m single, and I’m experimenting as well.  And I find the same thing.  It’s very interesting though, what you have to go through as a woman about being right with yourself if you do want to have casual sex with someone.  And not listening to past sort of conditioning about what that means for you if you want to explore your sexuality as a woman, you know?  And then there’s this thing of yeah, getting to the place where “I don’t know if casual sex if definitely the thing I want over time”.  But we have to talk about it.  We have to bring it up, and we have to be responsible for communicating our needs, wants and desires to our partners.  So I see where there is a conundrum here.  We want this connection.  We want this pleasure.  And yet, maybe we need to redefine what sex means.

R: That’s a great point.  Can you tell me? [laughs]

A: You’re going to have to listen to my show coming up where I’m going to interview Chip August, who is a relationship expert, and we’ll talk about redefining what sex actually means.  And maybe it doesn’t mean intercourse.  Maybe it doesn’t mean we have to get all energetically and emotionally tangled up with someone.  Maybe there’s a lot of exploring we can do without going there. 

R: I love it.  I can’t wait to hear the show. [laughs]

A: [laughs] Great, great. Yeah, and there’s more on lovership coming.  I love that you’re so open.  You’re such an anomaly because you’re so wise and knowledgeable and experienced as a young woman with a young daughter.  And yet there’s this innocence about you as well.  That you’re still exploring and you wanna love and have your heart open and yet there’s some cold reality staring you in the face, so I just really appreciate this conversation and I think it’s a perfect segue into meeting May.  So, we’ll come right back and take a break to honor our sponsors.  This is Alissa Kriteman with “Just For Women—Dating, Relationships and Sex”.  I’m talking with Rachel Sarah, author of “Single Mom Seeking”.  And we’ll be right back [laughs].

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Narrator:  This portion is sponsored by Dr. Steven Struck.  Board-certified.  Silicon Valley, California.  Embracing innovation.  Satisfying life.  At struckmd.com.
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A: Welcome back.  This is Alissa Kriteman, your host for “Just For Women—Dating, Relationships and Sex”.  I’m here with two beautiful, gorgeous, young women, Rachel Sarah, author of “Single Mom Seeking”, and her beautiful daughter May.  And actually, we have a third woman here.  What is kitty’s name?

May: Caramel.

A: Caramel! She’s the cutest little kitty.  So we’re just having a girl powwow.  We’ve been talking with Rachel about what it’s like being a single mother.  All the amazing benefits of  being a single mom and raising a beautiful, smart, motivated, generous, young woman such as May.  So, May has been gracious enough to agree to talking with us today about what it’s like for her, raising her kitty, hosting tea parties in her room, painting bindis on people, and what it’s like growing up to be a beautiful young woman in Berkeley, with her mom, Rachel.  So welcome to the show, May!  Anything you want to say to all the girls out there? [laughs]  Well, I’m excited to have you in my show.  My first question for you is, what do you love about your mom?

May: She’s nice.

A: Yeah? What makes her so nice?

May: I don’t know.

[laughter in the background]

A: Does she make you your special favorite lunches?

May: Uhm-hmm.

A: Well, she certainly drives you around to places.  Right?

R: [shouting in the background] Yeah.

May: Yeah.

A: And what do you guys like to do?

May: Play.

A: Yeah? I wonder if we could pick up the purring of the cat. I just thought we had to try.  We just had to to do that! [laughs].  I think the more you pet her, the louder her purring gets, so maybe we can focus on that.  So, let’s see…I heard that you have a very interesting thing that you say to people when they ask you if you had a dad.  What do you say to people when they say “Do you have a daddy?”?

May: I forget.

[laughter in the background]

A: You forget?  I think it’s called the term “birth dad”.  What’s that?

R: When your friends come over and they say “May, May, where’s your daddy?”  Do you remember his name?

May: Eric.

A: Well, let’s talk about the men in your life that you do really really love and care about.  Who’s your favorite man?

May: My grandpa.

A: Yeah? Why is he your favorite?  Big smile there.

May: Because he’s really funny.

A: Yeah?  What does he do that makes you laugh?

May: He tickles me.

A: Oh yeah? [laughs] He sounds nice. And, who else?

May: My other grandpa.

A: You have two grandpas? How do you find time for two grandpas?

[laughter in the background]

A: Between your tea parties, and school and playing with your kitty, you get to see two grandpas?

May: Yeah.

A: Do you think that’s better than having a dad?

May: I don’t know.

A: Yeah, it’d be hard to kind of figure that out. You’re getting a cold there.  So what do you like best about your life?

May: I have a little kitty.

A: Yeah.  Caramel.  What do you like about your kitty?

May: She purrs a lot.

A: Do you have a lot of girl friends?

May: Uhm-hmm

A: And what do you do with your girl friends?

May: Play date.

A: Yeah? And in your play dates, is there something you want to do more than other things?

May: No.

A: No?  What’s it like being in school?

May: It’s really fun.

A: Yeah?  And do you have a favorite thing in school?  Do you do math?

May: Uhm-hmm.

A: Do you like Math?

May: Uhm-hmm.

A: What do you think you’d want to be when you grow up?  Do people ask you that?

May: Sometimes.  But I kind of want to be a ‘sewer’.

A: A sewer, like make clothes? Do you sew..do you make things now?

May: Uh-huh.

A: What do you make?

May: Purses and pillows.

A: Yeah, that is amazing! So you already make purses and pillows, and you’re how old?

May: Seven.

A: I love that.  I’m envisioning an amazing designer.  But you know what? You never know.  Life will change. And you might want to do something else.  It’s really awesome to have the ability to move and change and figure that out, huh?  So what else do you like to do in your free time?

May: Ride my scooter.

A: Yeah?  Where do you go on your scooter?
May: Around the block, and sometimes to my school.

A: And wow, so May, you didn’t tell me that you’re an author.  And you’re writing your own book. What’s your book about?

May: Animals.

A: You like animals, huh? [laughs]  That is incredible.  So the school has “Authors’ Night”  and are all the kids writing books?  And your book is focused on animals.  What is it you like about animals?

May: Everybody’s book is about animals.  What I like about them is they’re usually really nice. 

A: I heard that kitties are on the earth to provide us with unconditional love.  What do you think?

May: Uh-huh

A: Yeah. It’s like the flowers too, huh?  Flowers are just like unconditional love.  So, it’s important, I think.  What do you think about the importance about having your girlfriends in your life and over at your house?

May: I don’t know.

A: [laughs] I’ve never interviewed a young, seven-year old before.  So I’m just trying to think, what else can we talk about?  It’s really fun.  So, you know Mom’s dating.  What do you think about that?  What do you think about when Mom goes on a date?  Do you worry about her?  Are you excited for her? What’s that like? 

May: I worry about her.

A: Ah!  What are you worried about?

May: Because I miss her.

A: Ah, she misses you!  You know that’s what I think too.  I think anytime we have any kind of reaction,  I wish our viewers could see the kitten right now who’s flipped outside down with her paws over her head [laughs].  That is the cutest thing I have ever seen!  How kittens are just so free and exposed.

So you miss your Mom when she goes on her dates.  How is it for you when your mom says, “Ok, there’s somebody I’d like you to meet, and he’s a man and he’s a friend of mine”.  What runs through your mind?

May: I forget.

A: Yeah?

R: It’s been a while. [laughs]

A: Ok, so what’s that like?  It sounds like you guys are going through a bit of a transition, you know, you were in a relationship for a while, and these are the real things that happened in life.  You’re with someone for a certain amount of time.  But there’s an impact.  So how is it for you guys that now you’re in a new place and single again, after what?  Two years?

R: Uhm-hmm..

A: So how is it now that you’re in a new place, in a new school, with a new kitty?

May: Good. 

R: Her school, everything is the same.  We moved to this new place, but the whole rest of her life is exactly [xx] It’s the same school, the same friends.  And in fact, now we live really close to school, but yeah, maybe…how do you like our new home, May-may?

May: Good.

A: Do you guys talk about your feelings and emotions?  You sounded like you had breakfast together, or dinner, talk about your day and the things that went on.  Are you authentic and real about your deep emotions that are going on, or how much do you really share?

R: Mostly I ask May questions, and I ask her “Do you have questions about why we’re moving”…

May: [in the background] “Ow..ow”

R: So mostly I just ask her questions about what comes up.  May is just amazing at communicating her feelings, like the other morning, we both woke up in really bad moods.  We just rolled out of the bed the wrong way, but it’s “Mommy, I am just so frustrated this morning, and I don’t know why”.

A: Aww, that’s awesome!  Do you remember why you were frustrated, May?

May: [mumbles a “no”]

A: No, but you just knew you had to say it.

May: Uh-huh.

A: That’s really healthy!

R: So I said “Thank you.  You can get a cough drop”.   I feel the same way.  She is so good at communicating her feelings, and she sometimes will just say to me that “I just want to tell you how I’m feeling! Can you just listen?”.  Because I’m trying to get her to bed and I realize, “Ok, she just needs a few minutes to unload.

A: But she must have learned that from you.  So are you actively teaching her how to express her feelings?

R: Yes, yes I am.  And we talk.  The way that I’ve learned how to do it, is of course, she has so many meltdowns, still at age seven.  I just try to acknowledge her and I’ll say, “Oh, it looks like you’re feeling really angry”.  I try to give her words, but mostly I just listen to her, but I’ve found that doing that, since she was six months old, now she has words for her feelings.

A: That’s incredible.  You know it speaks a couple of things about what you were saying, about how kids from single-parent families are doing just as well, if not better on many levels—emotional, academically, than kids who are coming from marriages that are really unhealthy.  I think that’s an amazing statistic that you bring up.  Also, one question I have is..I lost my question…What was my question? [laughs] It was about.  My god, I just want a blank.  Hold on, let me put this on pause…

Okay, so the other question I have is about you communicating your feelings.  Did you grow up in a family that was openly expressive, or is that something you’ve learned along the way, that you get to now pass on to your daughter? 

R: Openly expressive as in there was a lot of yelling? [laughs]  That was as expressive.  No, there was no naming of feelings.  It’s all that I’ve learned on my own.  Exploration.  Therapy.  Yes, and having friends who do the same thing.  And here in the Bay area, you hear parents all the time, “Use your words, no hitting”.  There’s amazing support here.  Yes.

A: Yeah, to actually be responsible for your own feelings and emotions and then pass that on to the children.  So, that’s a big, big, big point.  Because I think, we’re finding the divorce rate so high and kids in so much trouble.  Child obesity, I mean, those are repressed stuff emotions, which is why I’m glad you brought that up.  May, at seven years old, has access to say, “Mommy, I’m feeling this, I’m feeling that”, and how important it is, even if we didn’t have that opportunity as children to really provide that for our kids because they are the way of the future.

R: Here’s the future here.

A: May, I have a question for you.  So what’s something---if you want to answer--- what’s something that you feel right now?  How do you feel right now?

May: Happy!

A: I love that.  Yay, well, I just wanted to thank you both so much for being in the show and taking the time out to talk to me today to let women know that there is support out there for single moms.  There are successful single moms doing it.  There are all kinds of resources and information.  One thing I want to let the listeners know is you can find Rachel at [email protected].  And you can visit her website singlemomseeking.com. [laughs]. You can also reach me, Alissa, at personallifemedia.com.  And I’d love to know your comments about the show, questions you’d like to ask, ideas you’d like to offer.  I’m here to serve you.  So please let me know what you thought about the show and any other topics you’d like me to cover.

We’re almost out of time, but Rachel, I’d like to ask you a couple more questions. What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself that you didn’t know five years ago?

R: That it’s very important for me to think about myself.

A: Like really consider what’s going on for you—your wants, dreams, desires?

R: Exactly, so for me, that comes in writing, so I make lots of little lists.  I have one of those little boxes that I’ll put little wishes and hopes and goals and it’s amazing to look back--and I’ve been doing it for years—to look back “Oh my gosh, in 2003, I really did treat myself to a pedicure.  Now they’re grander than that. [laughs]

A: So you have a dream box and you put your dreams in there.  Does May do that too? 

May: No.

A: Not yet?  I think I’m going to create a dream box.  I love that!  You can go back and look and pick out and see all the ones that you don’t even realize that you did—that you were taking care of yourself in that way.  And just having that visual representation, I’m sure, inspires you to keep adding to it. 

R: It does.

A: You know, in your book, you’ve mentioned that you thought you would be in this big house, and that you’d have, I think, a PhD in English Literature?  So what are some of your dreams you have now?  I mean, is that still a dream? 

R: Right now, I’m working on book number two.  So at the moment, to sell book number two. 

A: Which is about…? Shall we say, or is it super secret?

R: “And Boyfriend Makes Three”.  So the book I wish I’d had about how do you plan your family when you’re a single parent and you meet “the one”.  How do you get it together and blend your lives.  And May and I have talked about one day working our own home.  We’re working on that.  What are we going to have in our own home?  Well, we’re bringing kitty, right? 

A: Do you have a garden?

May: Yeah.

R: You tell me you want a hot tub?

May: Yeah. 

R: I want a hot tub too.

A: One last question.  Interestingly enough, you brought up “the one”.  Do you really think there’s “the one”?

R: Do you want to come back to me in a few years?

[laughter]

R: I don’t.  I think it’s really about two people who really want to work together.  I think there’s always work to be done.  And I think if both people are curious and eager and committed to each other, that’s what it’s about. 

A: Hear, hear.  I agree.  I love it.  You know, this concept of “the one”, we’re really just disspelling these notions of the past and bringing new perspectives and insights.  So, thank you so much for saying that. 

Ladies, thank you so much.  Our time is up.  For transcripts of this show, I just want to say that they’re available on the Personal Life Media website at you guessed it, personallifemedia.com.  So this brings us to the end of this show.  Thank you again, Rachel and May for being with me and sharing yourselves so openly.  Any last thing you want to say?  Any last tidbit of advice you want to give young ladies out there? No?  How about you, Rachel?

R: Last thing. [laughs]

A: [laughs] Awesome.  And kitty, is there any last…oh, kitty is indisposed. So, we’re just going to go.  This is your host,  Alissa Kriteman.  Always expending your choices here on “Just For Women—Dating, Relationships and Sex”.  Thanks so much.  See you next time.

Announcer: Find more great shows like this on personallifemedia.com.