Single Mama Spotlight - Lori Gottlieb

I first discovered Lori Gottlieb on Dax Shepard's podcast “Armchair Expert”. And ever since that episode, I have been a huge fan. From her “Dear Therapist: column in the“The Atlantic”, to her best seller books, and now her podcast. 

She is a single mom by choice and also a therapist. And even though I have never met her, I feel like she has been my own personal guide through the stages of choosing to become a SMBC. Reading her work is like sitting down with a cozy cup of coffee and a dear friend ,who just happens to also be a therapist. This is why she is this week's Single Mama Spotlight. And even better, since her son is now a teenager, she can relay experiences to us from every step along the way.

I want to talk about her book, “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone”. It’s witty, it’s relatable, it’s moving. I devoured it, highlighting lines that spoke to me. Lori reveals a difficult time in her professional and personal life. She shows her life as both a therapist and someone receiving therapy. Lori explores five different patients, one of which is herself who is going through a breakup, and their different troubles in life. Trust me, you'll want to click here to add this book to your Amazon cart now.

Chapter 16 is especially relevant to us SMBC’s as she details how she went about becoming a single mom by choice. Her writing feels so familiar to me and that has led me to believe that I too can do this! A quote from chapter 16...

“The truth is, like most women out there, I expected to get married and have a family. But at 37, I found myself at a crossroads: I was two and a half years into a relationship with a smart, handsome guy, but we didn't see eye-to-eye on core values, and we argued. A lot. I worried that if we got married, we'd likely get divorced. And while I didn't think it would be ideal for a child to have just a mother, I was fairly sure that I could provide a stable, happy home on my own.”

Some more of her very relatable quotes are below...

This wasn't my dream growing up, of course. Nor was it the dream of the other members of Single Mothers by Choice, a national group for women who want to have children but won't shack up with the wrong guy to do so. Its' members—mostly attractive, smart, successful thirtysomethings - subscribe to the "somebody isn't always better than nobody" theory of marriage. Many, including me, have turned down engagement rings from eligible bachelors even as our biological alarm bells started sounding. As a friend put it, we're paradoxically "desperate but picky."”

"I'm far from an independent superwoman. I can't even change the water filter in my fridge by myself. I simply want to be a mother!" Actually, "simply" doesn't describe it. I'd always loved kids, and I couldn't imagine going through life without one of my own. But I didn't feel I could afford the time to go looking for the boyfriend I would marry within a year so we could have babies before my fertility began to evaporate.”

“Three years later, I certainly don't feel like a cautionary tale. I feel like I made what turned out to be the best decision of my life. I didn't choose to be single, but I did choose to become a mother. And it's because of this choice that I get to wake up every day to a hilarious toddler in the next room. The experience has, in a way, given me freedom I'd never experienced before. It taught me that we don't get to order a life plan like we order takeout: "I'll have one loving husband, two adorable kids, one flexible but exciting career, one healthy body, and the ability to travel, with the dressing on the side." Nobody's life is tied up that neatly in a bow—not even my married friends'.” 

"One married friend, a feminist-studies professor with two degrees from Stanford, surprised me by suggesting that I marry my boyfriend and have children while I was still fertile. "You can always get divorced," she said. "Maybe you'll marry someone you're in love with later." In other words, instead of "for better or for worse" I should go with "for better or for now." Before women achieved financial independence, they often had to choose between love and money. In the new millennium my choice seemed to be between love and offspring. Granted, if I broke up with my boyfriend I might meet the love of my life and have kids soon thereafter. But I didn't want to date under that kind of pressure. Besides, what if I didn't meet the right man in the next five years? What if I met him in ten instead? To bear children or not to bear children—that was the question."

Another thing I love about this book are the parts about her patients. Her writing allows you to connect with each of their journeys...some of my favorite lines from "Maybe You Should Talk to Someone"...

"He reminded her that life was exciting, that there was always the possibility of something, or someone previously undiscovered.”

“I was reminded that the heart is just as fragile at seventy as it is as seventeen. The vulnerability, the longing, the passion - they’re all there in full force. Falling in love never gets old. No matter how jaded you are, how much suffering love has caused you. A new love can’t help but make you feel hopeful and alive, like that very first time."

If Lori Gottileb's writing has spoken to you like it has to me, treat yourself and find the time to cuddle up with "Maybe You Should Talk to Someone" And if you want to dive in deeper, get the workbook that goes along with it, "Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: The Workbook"