Chicken Soup for the Soul
Life can be eerie for all of us sometimes, but for me, in the months immediately after my divorce, it was downright scary. It was like watching the world pass by with the sound turned down. Society went about its business, but I didn’t, not really. I brushed my teeth and did the laundry and somehow picked up the groceries, but I was never aware of doing these things. Sometimes I’d reach into the fridge for a juice and wonder how it got there. Or I’d suddenly notice that I was miles out on the freeway and had forgotten where I was going. Now I wonder how my young son, Cooper, perceived my post-divorce ‘blue’ period. He was only 7, but what did he make of Mom somnambulating around like a lost ghost stopping only to hug him, holding on for dear life?
The haze and paralysis were chased away by the cold reality of my new situation. After seventeen years in a happy, prosperous marriage, I suddenly found myself plagued by anxiety and loneliness. How on earth was I going to raise this little boy on my own? Fear and panic gripped me …. a deep, relentless sense of doom pervaded everything I did. For the first time in my adult life I felt utterly powerless and alone. The anxiety and worry about where I could go and what I could do infected every waking moment. The sensation became so gut-wrenching at times that I retreated into meditation; a practice I had always nurtured for pleasure now became my only escape.
It was during a prolonged meditation that a clear, intuitive thought pierced through the fog. It was filled with peace and joy, but mostly with pure intention. It told me to “find another single mother to house share with.”
Bolstered by this clear message, I went in search of a house big enough for two families. When I found the house, I began interviewing single moms and placed a notice with a local rental service, “Single mom seeks same to pool resources and share a house with a garden. Let’s work together to create a safe environment for our children.” I received 18 responses, and I knew that something good was happening. As I started to have conversations with the moms who responded to my solution it became clear that the good extended far beyond just me. All of these women were looking for a way to connect, not just for house sharing, but as single mothers who needed to reach out to someone who understood what they were going through. But I only had one house… what could I say to the other seventeen? After talking with several of the moms over coffee, it struck me that some might have more in common with each other than they had with me. Two had 3 yr old boys. One mother had a 16 yr old girl and lived close by another who had a 14 yr old girl. It made perfect sense to put them in contact with each other, so I did. And they were grateful.
If 18 single moms were looking to share with another single mom in my small neighborhood, how many hundreds must there be in the greater Los Angeles area? How many thousands in California? How many millions in the United States? I did some research and found that there was no resource where single moms could find each other to house share. That familiar intuitive feeling came over me and I was listening. Why not me? Why not take the initiative and create a place for single moms to connect, a place for us, by us where we could pool resources to build healthier, happier, more secure home environments? So I founded CoAbode, an on line service designed exclusively to connect single moms for house sharing and friendships. Within a year I had a full service website up and running. Today we have over 70,000 members, thousands of whom are sharing homes together all over the United States.
The message from single moms who’ve connected off CoAbode is so heartening. They rejoice in doing half the shopping, half the cooking, half the cleaning, and getting twice the house they could have afforded alone. Recently divorced women tell me how they’ve been able to hold on to the family home by bringing in another single mom to help share the financial burden. And instead of dwelling in a sad and lonely place, they now have a friend to laugh with, a shoulder to cry on when the bad memories creep in. But most inspiring of all is what single moms say they’ve achieved for their children; I hear about warm kitchens full of laughter, two-year-old boys who assume they are brothers, and teenage girls who share the bus to school with new surrogate sisters, knowing that they have so much more to return home to than they ever had before.
The response to the idea of single mothers sharing houses has been phenomenal – and to think that my own feelings of loneliness and fear lead me to ask “what should I do with my life and how can I help others while doing it” I am blessed with this incredible opportunity to help so many others! It may take a village to raise a productive member of society, but we can make a start with single moms who unite in their devotion to their children and their willingness to help themselves.Return To Articles