Essay of a Single Mom: Being Single on a Boat Full of Couples

| September 4, 2014 | 12 Replies

In terms of a cruise, the first thing anyone thinks after “relaxation” is “romance.” We have visions of dressing up, attending fancy dinners, and kissing on a ship’s deck under a million twinkling stars.

sunset at sea

This inspires hundreds of thousands to embark on cruises; however, it is not the case for me.

My love boat recently just sank like the Titanic. In fact, my cruise is embarking on what would have been the day of my 17th anniversary. Instead of celebrating this milestone, the dissolution of this relationship awaits finalization in divorce court. It’s a strange time in my life as I’m trying to figure out who I am. Whoever it is, it’s far different from who I was.

My life used to be picture perfect. I was the beautiful wife married to the successful husband. We had the American dream: three wonderful children and the “white picket fence” that everyone wants. I homeschooled, kept the house in flawless order, made all our meals from scratch, and ran an entire youth program for middle-schoolers and high-schoolers. I was Donna Reed. I was Martha Stewart. I was what everyone else wanted me to be.

Then life happened as it tends to do. Sometimes it throws you into situations where you slowly wake up and realize you are living with a stranger. The stranger might be your partner. The stranger might be yourself. For me, it was both.

The last few years of my life have been about survival. As I’ve become increasingly aware that a divorce was in the future, I’ve taken steps to prepare. My husband and I have spent very little time together, and I have been working nights as a waitress. Being so busy has actually helped me keep my sanity in what are otherwise maddening circumstances. My only regret is that my children have been lost in the shuffle, and I have been disconnected from them to a degree.

Change has been needed for some time. A divorce from a spouse shouldn’t mean divorce from one’s children, and I am taking the steps that I can to remove the obstacles standing in my way. A new home, a new job, a new life — we are starting over. All those things have led to this moment in time where I find myself single with three children, walking the decks of a Disney cruise ship.


It’s been a full day already since our ship left port this afternoon. The kids and I have eaten until the point of bursting. We’ve made new friends. We’ve laughed over the awkward situations of a tight stateroom. Most importantly, we’ve had a few touching moments inspire our cruise mantra, “Feel the family love.”

I look at each of my kids’ faces and understand that they are the reason I’m here, on this ship, beginning my journey as a single mom.  I’m not here to complete someone else or be a better half. I’m here to complete me and be a better whole.  This cruise is not about romance and fantasy. It’s about taking time out to get in touch with myself and with my children.  I’m here to learn a bit about how we function as a new unit. I’m here to learn who I am in this new phase of life. I am here to heal.

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Category: Disney Cruise Line

  • Steven Gitler

    Wow! JL, you are awesome. Your outlook is inspiring and your 3 beautiful kids are so lucky to have such an incredible role model to teach them how best to deal with whatever life throws at them. We, your fans, are also lucky to be able to share in your journey. I look forward to meeting you one of these days.

  • Heatherly Lane Sylvia

    I love that you have this opportunity to have some quality time with your kids. I can’t wait to hear about the rest of your adventures! Thank you for keeping it real.


    Hi JL-thank you for sharing. I’ve been a single mom for over 15 years so I understand totally what you are going through-I think that my ex and I focused on our daughter and kept our relationship cordial and that helped her get through all of this and grow into an exceptional young woman – you will build a great new life for you and your children-

  • Mary Campbell Neal

    Wonderfully written. You have a very good outlook on your situation and you will persevere!

  • Belinda

    Hi JL! Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I have enjoyed getting to “know” you as I listen to the podcasts every week and feel honored that you would bring us into your very private world. I have so much respect for you and hope that you and your kids have a wonderful cruise. My thoughts and prayers are with you while you are on this journey!

  • Cindi

    You are such an inspiration JL. What a well written and positive piece.

  • Gaylin Chev

    Great story. Life does go on and why not have fun! And a cruise to stay connected with your children = awesome.

  • Todd Witkowski

    Boy, did this article hit home. My 25-year marriage is ending this year, and we were supposed to take a big anniversary trip to California, including Disneyland. I had hoped to take the kids anyway, but couldn’t afford it with everything that’s going on. I hope to take the trip with them next year. I’ll be anxious to hear how the cruise goes!

  • Margymas

    Can’t wait to hear more

  • disfan42

    This is beautifully written and wonderfully touching. Congrats on taking the scary, trepidatious first step. You’ve got all the support in the world.

  • Jodi Pontius Strock

    You’re doing exactly what you need to do & make the best of the situation. You also have permission to work on yourself now – be who you want to be & focus on those three children. You will show them through this process how to be strong & make them proud!

  • Penny

    Well said…. My journey began in 2009..We too were the average American family one boy, one girl, mom (stayed home), dad, dog and a cat. We had planned a big family vacation, with a Disney Cruise…….and then the separation came. The trip was paid for and he wasn’t going, so my mom stepped in. We all went and had a great time. It truly was an experience I will never forget, I came back a different person. It is now 2014 and the three of us, my mom and now my dad joining us, have gone on a Disney cruise every year since. Disney cruise’s are amazing in the way you have this great family time in very close quarters, but yet everyone has the freedom to do what they love alone also. I thank GOD everyday for that first trip and what it has led to. God bless and good luck :)