Jodi Jefferson’s struggles have reaped a beautiful, rich life
Powerhouse executive recruiter, blogger, and creative thinker Jodi Jefferson is also Solo Mom to daughters Jada, 11, and Zoey, eight. With sole custody of her kids, this New York native can usually be found chasing her daughters through the streets of the Upper West Side or chasing waves in Montauk.
Q: Do you surf?
A: I started surfing in 2010, the year my ex-husband and I split up. We’d been going to Montauk in the summers since my early 20s. Back then it was a quiet, sleepy fishing town. I’ve always admired the skate and surf culture and wanted to learn.
When my husband and I split, I wanted to plant roots in Montauk so my girls and I could escape in the summer. I could finally learn to surf, and we could be part of a small community. I wanted to make new friends and build a new life. I wanted to be outdoors, active, near the ocean, and in the water.
When Jada was five and Zoey two, I started a small business there called SurfCraft and appointed Jada my business partner.
My vision was to establish an art program located near the great restaurants and hotels in Montauk. Parents could drop off their kids with our art counselors, and they’d create something wonderful and inspired by nature.
My goal was to make enough money to cover my overhead and the cost of the bedroom my daughters and I rented in a friend’s home. My girls experienced this entrepreneurial endeavor from napkin sketches, schlepping boxes of art supplies around town, and participating.
With this little beachside business, I was able to reincarnate myself and meet many of the closest friends I have to date. Since then, I’ve closed SurfCraft in order to dedicate my time to my higher-income-producing career as a job recruiter.
Q: What do you do exactly?
A: I’m basically a headhunter. The most innovative start-ups and tech companies, such as Uber and PayPal, hire my firm to find them executive leaders. These people are hired into vice president or C-level positions [titles involving “chief”] with our clients. They are brilliant innovators who build products that power our current society.
Q: How did you get into this line of work?
A: It was my first “real job” out of college; however, I’d only been doing it for two years when the dot-com industry crashed in 2002. At that point, my ex-husband convinced me to start a real-estate appraisal company. He was an appraiser. We ran the company out of our home and eventually got an office in Manhattan. But the market began to crash in 2008, and by 2010, it took the legs out of our firm.
Meanwhile, my marriage fell apart.
By February 2011, I’d filed for bankruptcy, short-sold my home, and gone back to work full time—commuting three hours a day. Eventually, I left my home in the suburbs of Long Island and rented a two-bedroom apartment in New York City. In the last five years, I’ve worked for an agency and gone out on my own to start my own recruiting agency.
Q: When and how did you become a Solo Mom?
A: Shortly after Zoey was born, I discovered my husband was having an affair. Our business was failing, my marriage was failing, and I had two little girls under the age of five who needed Mom to put on a happy face. I had to restart a career quickly and produce income immediately to support us. [Jefferson supports her children 100%.]
My ex decided to take a more creative journey into the arts. He wanted time to figure it out, refine his craft, and monetize it. Five years later, and I’m still waiting for the monetizing part to come to fruition.
Q: How did you manage?
A: The first year was extremely tough. I had to somehow go from a negative income to earning enough money to support us. My mother was very helpful. Once I went back to work full time, I was able to hire a nanny.
The most challenging part was sheltering my emotions and not coping with my feelings. I had to leave my babies at home while I worked and commuted and still remain incredibly focused and competitive at work. I was also on a mission to get out of the home we were in. I navigated bankruptcy and the short sale in the evenings after I put the kids to bed.
Q: When your status shifted from being married to being a Solo Mom, did you feel a shift in your community?
A: Yes; 99% of my married friends I left behind in the suburbs. There wasn’t much effort on either part to keep in touch, mostly due to logistics. But I created new friendships. Many are single or couples where we have more in common than just being parents.
I did notice that since I’ve moved to the city, I’ve not been able to forge personal relationships with married couples from my daughters’ school. I’m not complaining, either. I have many wonderful friends whom I barely have time to see! That said, there is a divide that exists among working and stay-at-home moms. I imagine if I had more time to linger in the school yard, pick up my kids after school, or chaperone trips, I would interact more with other parents and make friends—but that’s not my life.
Q: Are there specific resources that help you?
A: My mother, stepdad, and an incredible group of friends support me emotionally and have been generous with opening their hearts and homes and including us on family vacations, holiday dinners, etc. My friends have become family. My inner spirit is also a resource—belief, positivity, courage, and strength. My dad passed away in 2001, and his spirit lives on in me.
Q: Was there a defining moment that drove home you were raising children alone?
A: Many defining moments! When I knew I had to ask my husband to leave. The lonely nights that followed where I cried myself to sleep. The days when I had two sick kids and had to work. When I felt ill and had to power through to care for my kids.
Q: Do you date?
A: When my ex and I split, I was in my early 30s and had never dated. (I met my ex-husband when I was 18, got married at 25, and started having babies at 27.)
I assumed I wouldn’t date. I not only had no time, emotional wounds, and financial debt but also two kids under five. My self-worth was in the dumps, so raising kids alone was the only plan. Thankfully, I’ve overcome this and realized that my kids are a blessing, and the family and life we’ve created is a bonus for anyone I date.
Q: Did being a Solo Mom impact your career?
A: Yes. While I’m naturally competitive, pressure constantly drives me. At the same time, I’ve learned to work smarter and sometimes less hours. Being a single mom comes with many sacrifices and many rewards.
Q: What are some of your rewards?
A: My struggles have made me the woman I am today. So while there have been disappointments and hardship, I hold very little grudges. I’ve learned to put a positive spin on misfortune and realize that at 37, this in itself is a gift.
Q: What is your favorite Solo Mom tip?
A: It takes a village. I’m one person doing a job meant for two. Don’t be overly righteous in thinking you can do it all yourself. Accept help. Delegate what you can so you have more quality time with your kids and to cater to your own health and well-being.
Q: Of what are you the most proud about yourself as a Solo Mom?
A: I’m proud of being a positive role model for my children. I talk to them a lot—about life, people, decisions, struggles, successes, working hard, etc. I want them to feel they can come to me about anything. They look up to me. As a mother with daughters, this is the most rewarding accomplishment.
I’ve created a beautiful, diverse life—rich with love and new experiences.
Kathleen Laccinole, ESME’s Dating Resource Guide, has penned numerous films and parenting books but is best known for producing the highly lauded Greta, age 20, and William, age 16.
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