Maybe you saw the incredibly inspiring viral photo of Leshia ChampLpms, a single mother of five at her law school graduation? In the photo, Champs stands proudly with her foot on a stack of law books while all five of her children are lined up like stair steps, each holding a chalkboard sign that says they had helped her achieve her goal. It’s impossible to look at their faces, all filled with pride, and not feel moved.
And surely by now you’ve heard J.K. Rowling’s amazing story? How she went from being a struggling single mom on welfare to being the world’s most successful author. “I was a Single Parent, and a ‘Single Parent On Benefits’ to boot. Patronage was almost as hard to bear as stigmatization,” Rowling wrote in an essay. “I would say to any single parent currently feeling the weight of stereotype or stigmatization that I am prouder of my years as a single mother than of any other part of my life.”
Or how about Hollywood hotshot Shonda Rhimes, the mastermind behind Gray’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, and Private Practice. Rhimes isn’t just a powerplayer in an incredibly competitive industry, she’s the single mother to three daughters. “…I want my daughters to see me and know that I am the one who works. I wouldn’t want them to know the me who didn’t get to do this all day long,” Rhimes says.
But there are many, many more stories of single mothers doing incredible things. Most of those women will never become famous, but they’re carving out their own success, day in and day out, in nearly every industry and corner of life.
Consider Lisa Stone. In 2005, Stone, a young, divorced, single mom of three, founded the online platform BlogHer. Not only did she create a fantastic business for herself, but she created a community where other women like herself could launch their own careers and dreams and gain access to wider professional circles and exposure.
And Melissa Kieling. In 2008, Kieling, a single mom of three, founded PackIt after her kids complained that the blueberries she packed in their lunches were warm and mushy. At the time Kieling had virtually no business experience. The closest she’d come to the marketplace, she said, was volunteering at school bake sales. Now she runs an $11 million corporation. “Not knowing which steps to take first nearly paralyzed me with fear, Kieling says. “I overcame this by reaching out to other business owners who could connect me to experts in manufacturing, production and sales. Each key person I met shortened my learning curve and gave me confidence. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how other small business owners want to pay it forward and see new upstarts succeed.”
In fact, you might be surprised by how many famous and successful women are raising their children without a partner. Check out this list of 100 famous single moms , read about these hard working mamas, these solo mothering successes and these mom-preneurs who turned their wits and work into dollars while raising their kids alone.