Caroline Rosales is waiting for our interview to begin at Berlin’s celebrity restaurant Borchardt. Florian Langenscheidt, the publisher, and Bernhard Schlink, the author of “The Reader”, are seated at the next table. “Should I go and tell Schlink that I started writing because of him?” Rosales asks. I’m not sure if she’s joking or not. In any case, she doesn’t get up, but orders the dish of the day.
Caroline Rosales is a “single mother”. She has also previously been a “city country mom” and next year she plans on being “sexually available”. The 36-year-old journalist, author, blogger and mother knows how to write about her daily life in a clever and funny manner. She earns her living as an editor at the Funke Group (where she writes her weekly “Single Mom” column). Since 2010, she has published three books in German (I Think a Child is Kicking Me; Mom Must Save the World; and Single Mom). Her next book, Sexually Available, will be published in January. In addition, she is the founder and ex-blogger of “Stadt Land Mama” (City Country Mom). She is argumentative, political, emancipated and, in the following conversation, refreshingly honest.
Life as a single mother: What it really means
At the moment, her work revolves around one thing: the single mom. In her latest book, she writes about what it really means to be a single parent. It’s about cake terror at kindergarten, dating on Tinder, patchwork experiments and the money and job problems that go with being a single mom.
However, it hasn’t always been like that. Being a single mom was once as foreign to Caroline Rosales as the Borchardt is to a day without a Very Important Person dining at one of its tables. She had her first child at the age of 28 years. Everything seemed perfect. Her husband was a successful manager working nine to five while she stayed at home. “I wanted to go back to work after four months, but there was no day care for such a young child,” she tells me. “In Germany, men and women enter the delivery room as a modern couple and leave as a couple from the 1950s,” she says, quoting Jakob Hein, the writer and former representative of fathers at the Charité.
“The marriage market pays women more than the labor market”
Rosales also touched on the subject of so-called “re-traditionalization”. Whilst her husband travelled around the world on business trips, she stayed at home with the child. During this time, she wrote her first book, had her second child and then wrote a second book. “Somehow my whole day just consisted of cleaning, wiping, tidying and more cleaning,” she says. She lost contact with adult and professional life. So, that’s where you end up after studying for seven years, working and training hard: wiping your children’s asses. “I didn’t just want to be a mom,” she says. “[But] the marriage market pays women better than the labor market,” she explains. The latter is another quote. This time from sociologist Jutta Allmendinger. Translation: Rosales was lonely, “but very well looked after”.
When separation becomes liberation
Rosales lived the Walt Disney dream with a successful hero, a big wedding and a happy family. Only, she wasn’t happy. “I am not suitable for that dream world,” she says with a trace of sadness in her voice. After five years, she couldn’t take it anymore and turned her life around. The separation became a liberation. A summer of great development followed: parties, friends, dinner – her children are always part of it, everyone is having fun. She Tindered, flirted, danced.
“I have all the advantages of a single mom,” she says beaming. Her new life is designed entirely according to her own ideas – from the apartment to the furniture to her friends. “No compromise. I’m the law,” she adds grinning. Are there any disadvantages to being a single mother? She thinks about this for a long time, and then shakes her head. “There’s support everywhere: kindergarten, school, a helping grandmother and an au pair,” she explains, visibly enjoying her self-development. She doesn’t engage in an envy debate about the au pair. “As a full-time working single mom, it’s really the most cost-effective model.”
Living as a single mother: the challenges
Thinking about the challenges of being a single mother also takes a little longer. “Holding the finances together, insisting on getting things right, thinking in numbers when it comes to household management,” she finally says. But she also talks about the stigmatization of being a “single mom”. It’s still frowned upon to separate from a family man and as a consequence some of her friendships ended as well. “I am now a living critic of other people’s ideal of marriage,” she admits and shrugs her shoulders.
But the benefits far outweigh everything else. No compromises and lots of sex. “In the beginning, I thought no one would want to go out with a mom of two kids,” she laughs. Nevertheless, she created a Tinder profile and started looking for a man. “I thought about it carefully, waited for a long time before the first time and then took my chances,” she adds. “Good grammar is sexy! If you add a comma in the wrong place, you’re out,” she laughs.
She soon realized that men don’t care that she has children. As long as she doesn’t behave like a marriage-material helicopter mom. “I’m not the classic mother who calls home during the evening to check if everything is going okay,” she explains. Her luck: because men might find that “annoying and unsexy”.
After some time, she even ventures into a little relationship with a father. But as soon as he started speaking in baby talk with his school child, the light went out.. “It was so uncool,” she says and grins. Meanwhile, she has found her Mr. Right. They live separately and love spending time together.
What advice does Caroline Rosales have for other single mothers? “Carry your pretty head held high. No matter how you feel, go out and seek your happiness.”
Caroline Rosales: „Single Mom: Was es wirklich heißt, alleinerziehend zu sein“, Rowohlt Taschenbuch, July 2018.
Author: Tina Molin