Kristin Meekhof speaks with ESME’s Dating Resource Guide, Kathleen Laccinole
Kathleen Laccinole is a solo mother of two children, and she knows it’s never too late to follow your passion. In the past, she has written for film as well as authored books on parenting. Laccinole is currently ESME’s Dating Resource Guide, and when she’s not writing for ESME, she’s helping her single friends navigate the online dating world and all it has to offer.
Q: Tell me about your career as a Solo Mom.
A: I’m a professional writer and work on projects ranging from books and movies to freelance articles. I used to be a music-business executive. After my marriage fell apart, I tried to put my life back together. Nothing turned out the way I thought it would.
At 45, I was a novice at dating, and everything with dating has changed. No one knows how to date anymore. Everyone dates online, and I know I don’t want to go to a bar to meet someone. It’s also easy to get your heart broken because you’ve been in a relationship before that didn’t work, so you are really vulnerable. I wanted to write about the Solo Mom dating experience because I knew my friends were going through this, too.
Q: How did you end up as a writer?
A: I got a job at Epic Records when I was 19 and majored in music at the University of California, Los Angeles. I then worked my way up the proverbial ladder, careful not to drink, sleep around, or do drugs. I was on track! I married a musician, was a rock-and-roll housewife for a bit—then, realizing my marriage was doomed, I taught myself how to write and immersed myself in film and books. I started writing anything that came into my head.
Q: You’ve written screenplays and books in the past. How do you find time to juggle a demanding career and raise two children?
A: After my kids went to sleep, I used to work until two in the morning. I’d only sleep four or five hours. I’d set the table for breakfast before I went to bed, and when they got up for school, I’d get up and see how much I could get done with one eye open [she laughs]. I had a carpool arrangement to help take the kids to school, and then when they left, I’d go back to bed and then get up and write. Every day, I’d pick the kids up from school, and we’d go to the market.
Q: Who are your mentors?
A: My mom and Lucille Ball were my inspirations, but Joe Bratcher was and still is my mentor. I met him out of despair when I optioned my first script and was bullshitting my way through the process. I was terrified. He’s a teacher. He took me under his wing. He taught me everything and was the first person who truly believed in me as a writer. He still is my greatest champion and now is the godfather to my children. I know he will always be there for us. I am so lucky.
Q: When and how did you become a Solo Mom?
A: I married a musician. Seven years and one baby later, we broke up. A year later I went on a date . . . then two more. Then I got knocked up. (I was “infertile,” using birth control, and on my period!) My miracle son lives with me full time; my daughter, most of the time.
Q: Did being a Solo Mom impact your career?
A: Yes. I had two babies full time. I was new to the writing profession, and it was pretty much impossible to mother full time, write full time, network full time, pitch, kiss ass . . . all the things you need to do. I really struggled. I was exhausted all the time and extremely depressed.
Q: What is your message to solo mothers?
A: A lot of women my age have had relationship problems. My message is that we don’t hit our prime until we are 40 or 50. At this age, we are ready to have fun. I wake up every morning with hope. When I was married, I was hopeless. As a Solo Mom, I’d say the sky’s the limit. It is exhausting, and you do have to keep your health up, but my kids have real life skills. They know how to cook, put things together, etc., because I couldn’t do everything for them.
Q: How did you manage?
A: It was really f---ing hard! There were no resources for single moms at the time. I took my colicky baby on long walks to loud restaurants for an anesthetizing martini or long drives with her asleep in the car seat for some quiet time to think—or just plain quiet. When my son came, he was an easy baby, and my baby daddy paid for me to have some help.
Also, preschool changed my life!
Q: When your status shifted from being married to being a Solo Mom, did you feel a shift in your community?
A: Yes. I stopped being included in “coupled” events. These were my good friends! I felt like an outcast and was totally lost. Eventually, I was able to put together a circle of single mom friends who became like family. Solo Moms are everywhere. (One of my best Solo Mom friends “picked me up” in Trader Joe’s as she was readying to go to China to adopt her baby.) The more comfortable I became with my new “status” in life, the more I was able to own it, be proud, and attract supportive friends. Now we have great fun—and friendship has taken on a deeper meaning. My friends have become my husband.
Q: Were there/are there specific resources that help you?
A: I work at home, so sanity and isolation became an issue. Every afternoon I’d take my kids to Gelson’s, a local supermarket. The employees visited with me, played with my kids, gave them cookies, and I’d get an iced-blended mocha as reward for surviving another day. I made a lot of friends at Gelson’s, and the routine was incredibly comforting. It still is. “It takes a village” . . . or a Gelson’s.
Q: Has being a Solo Mom posed any sort of detriment to furthering your career?
A: Yes. Reentering the music business was not an option at the time of my divorce. I didn’t have nighttime child care, and so much of that career involves going to clubs, etc. . . . Plus, the music business was falling apart at the time. Writing allowed flexibility in hours, but after the Writers Guild of America strike, work became scarce. So I did anything, within the law, that paid (aka “The crabby years”). I even started a candle business from my kitchen. Life finally came full circle, and I am now able to write about what I know—solo motherhood, dating, relationships, comedy—and my kids can walk to school.
Q: Was there a defining moment that drove home that you were raising kids alone?
A: There are two that stand out:
1. Middle of the night, two kids under six, both with the stomach flu, both barfing—everywhere—on opposite sides of the house.
2. Me with the stomach flu, my son slices his hand with a knife. I have to navigate to the ER. I end up on a gurney. “Mom’s down!” I wake up with an IV in my arm, and my son sitting on my stomach having his finger stitched like a brave little soldier.
Q: What are you most proud of as a Solo Mom?
A: My kids! They are the two best people I know—plus they are funny. And they tell me I’m pretty. And sometimes take out the trash.
Regarding myself, I’ve been able to take the absolute worst part of my life—a steaming pile of shit—and turn it into the best thing that ever happened to me. I started to write about it, and it makes people laugh, and there is nothing better than that.
Q: Favorite Solo Mom tip?
A: Give your littles the olives from your Sunday martinis. Just kidding (sort of).
Also, make breakfast the night before. Put fruit in a bowl in the shape of a smiley face, and a box of cereal next to it. Your kids can handle the rest. You can say hello, give them a kiss, and go back to sleep!
Q: What advice would you give to your 30-year-old self?
A: Don’t do it! Life is too short. Say no to what doesn’t feel right or move you forward. Don’t do things to please others or because you think it’s what you are supposed to do. It’s OK to be your own person and forge your own path—no matter how unconventional. . . . Then I’d say, “Do it!” Life is also long. It’s OK to reinvent yourself more than once. Loves change, passions change, and deep down we have secret dreams. Pursue them. Imagine how you will feel in 30 years if you don’t.
Kristin Meekhof, ESME’s Bereavement Resource Guide, is the coauthor of A Widow’s Guide to Healing: Gentle Support and Advice for the First 5 Years. A licensed social worker and daughter of a Solo Mom, Meekhof became a widow in 2007 when her husband died from cancer.
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