Parenting is tough enough when you're part of a pair; doing it solo is even harder. Whether they're co-parenting through divorce or completely on their own, these celebrity single moms handle it with grace.
Reality star Amanda Stanton may have gotten her fairytale ending when Josh Murray dropped to one knee and proposed on the season finale of Bachelor in Paradise, but life has certainly not been all, um, roses, for the single mom-of-two. The 26-year-old recently opened up about her struggles in an honest and revealing blog post. “I felt guilty and blamed myself for not giving my kids the life I had always dreamed of giving them,” she wrote. “I felt so much guilt that they were growing up with not only parents who weren’t together, but parents who couldn’t get along, not even for their sake.” But once Amanda realized all the things she was stressing were out of her control, she resolved to change course. ”I decided instead of being embarrassed of my failed marriage and ashamed of being a single mother, I was going to OWN it," she wrote. "Being the best mother you can be and giving your kids the BEST life possible has nothing to do with your relationship status and you don’t have to be happily married to have a 'picture-perfect family.’” Amen!
The actress split with husband Roberto Zincone in 2013, when their son Sebastian was just 7 months old. Divorce after six years of marriage was jarring, Akerman told People, but, "There is a beautiful thing about relationships where you grow each other to a point where you can't grow each other any more." Ever the optimist, Akerman adds, "You can't control life. I roll with the punches. And ultimately, it's like, 'Where is the opportunity in this?' And that's been a nice way to look at it. Like, oh my God, I get to have so much special time with my son now."
The singer-songwriter was vocal about her struggles with fertility before giving birth to son Kase in 2011, with then-husband and rodeo cowboy Ty Murray. The pair quietly married in 2008, after a decade together, but divorced in 2014. Jewel announced the split on her blog, saying: "Due to the spirit in which we have gone about this separation, we trust we can remain dear friends who hold each other in high esteem, which is so important to us as parents – we wish only what is best for our son." Murray has echoed that Kase is top priority for the pair, and the three have remained close despite the divorce, with Jewel often sharing photos of her "two favorite cowboys" on social media. "Whatever makes Kase win is great for us," Jewel told Yahoo, of her relationship with Murray. "We're very aware that having a divorce doesn't get you out of a relationship, so we're very dedicated to being great parents and doing what's best for him."
Bullock, America's sweetheart and an Academy Award-winning actress, may have been blindsided when her marriage to Jesse James—and her role as stepmom to his three kids—ended, but heartache didn't stop her from opening her heart. The Gravity leading lady adopted Louis Bardo, a baby boy from New Orleans, proving the greatest love of all is that a mother has for her child. Then, in 2015, Bullock adopted 3-year-old Laila from the foster care system. "When I look at Laila, there's no doubt in my mind that she was supposed to be here," Bullock said at the time, adding: "My family is blended and diverse, nutty, and loving and understanding. That's a family."
Williams met and fell in love with her daughter's daddy, Heath Ledger, on the set of Brokeback Mountain. Things took a sad turn when the Australian actor passed away in 2008, leaving Williams a single mom to Matilda Rose. With grace and love, Williams and her mini-me blond daughter have carved out a new life for themselves and are often spotted around their Brooklyn hood blending in with all of the other modern families. The down-to-earth single mom even admits to feeling the burnout, telling Elle UK, "It's a real luxury to have a moment when I'm not scrambling. I feel like most of my life, I'm trying to do two things at once, both to the best of my abilities. So that leaves me feeling pretty exhausted."
We have to give props to this actress, model, and reality-star single mom for raising her three daughters with full legal custody. (The girls' famous father, of course, is former Two and a Half Men star and social media firebrand Charlie Sheen.) But the hands-on mom doesn't just keep her eye on their kids -- Sam, Lola and Eloise -- she's even been known to lend a hand to Sheen's other children, twin boys Bob and Max, whose mother is Brooke Mueller. Talk about a class act.
When the Dawson's Creek alum was a kid she told people it was her dream to marry A-lister Tom Cruise. And while her fairytale wedding didn't have a happily-ever-after, she did come out of her divorce to the Mission Impossible star with a daughter, Suri. Still, being a celebrity with a famous ex doesn't necessarily make being a single mom easier. In an exclusive cover story with People, she spoke honestly about the challenges: "You do the best you can. Some days you feel really good about yourself and some days you don't."
The Top Chef host gave birth to her daughter, Krishna, in February 2010, but chose to keep the identity of her daughter's daddy a mystery. While it later broke that venture capitalist Adam Dell is the father, Lakshmi prefers to be a strong single mama. That doesn't mean she's doing it alone. Lakshmi told the New York Post she doesn't juggle it all and admits to being very privileged. Her staff includes a live-in nanny, an assistant, and a director of operations. "I have a lot of hands helping me. My nanny is awesome. She was in the Indian army for five years. She was a female paratrooper. And she's a great cook."
Of course it was newsworthy when the Academy-Award winning actress and GOOP founder separated from Coldplay's Chris Martin, but it was the way the split was presented, as much as the split itself, that made headlines. The parents of Apple and Moses announced the end of their marriage on GOOP in a blog post titled "Conscious Uncoupling."
"We have come to the conclusion that while we love each other very much we will remain separate," they wrote. "We are, however, and always will be a family, and in many ways we are closer than we have ever been."
Such a mature co-parenting approach sounds ideal -- and this past Mother's Day, Gwyn, Chris and the kids still celebrated as a family. But at BlogHer 2015, Paltrow opened up about the difficult reality of that lofty goal: "It's been hard, and you know, like, we've gone through really difficult times with it but we've always said, 'These children are our priority,'" she said. "What that really means is, 'Even though today, you hate me and you never want to see me again, like, we're going to brunch, 'cause it's Sunday and that's what we'll do!'"
When it comes to marriage, Theron says it's never been important to her. Adoption, on the other hand, has always been part of her plan. The Monster star told the Australian magazine Madison that she knew she'd always adopt. "My mother found [a letter I wrote]. It said, 'Would you please take me to an orphanage, so that I can go and adopt a baby?'"
Indeed, after ending a 9-year relationship with actor Stuart Townsend in 2010, she adopted a son, Jackson, in 2012. She told Madison, "You know, I don't think any mother aims to be a single mom. I didn't wish for that, but it happened."
Single motherhood must agree with her, too, as she recently adopted another baby -- a girl named August.
The Mad Men star announced back in April 2011 that she was expecting her first child -- and quickly put rumors of baby daddy drama to rest, declaring she was doing the mommy thing solo and totally cool about it. Two years later, she told Net-A-Porter's The Edit online fashion magazine of being a single mom to son Xander, "I don't have room for anything else so I don't know how I would have done it with a partner." She continued, "I knew I would be raising my son alone. It was something I went in to knowingly, I was prepared mentally -- and I was excited about it."
After splitting from fiancé Lance Armstrong and kicking breast cancer to the curb, the singer took on single parenthood -- adopting son Wyatt in 2007 and son Levi in 2010.
In 2013, juggling two little men and a career, Crow told Parade magazine she is a quintessential single working mom. "All of my decisions are based around what's best for my kids," she said. "I'm lucky that right now they're little and pretty malleable when it comes to travel. I get to take them on the tour bus, and I get to tuck them in at night even though I'm tucking them into a bunk. We read stories, and I try to keep things as normal as possible. We take the things on the road that matter to them, and we try to keep things schedule-wise as normal as possible: naps, meals, and that sort of thing. But I'm just like every other working mom -- I go to sleep at night with them on my mind, and I wake up with them on my mind, and all my decisions are informed by their presence in my life. I think that's what all moms do."
She played weed-peddling single mom Nancy Botwin on Showtime's Weeds -- and Parker is a real-life single mom, too (although not selling grass to keep her little fam going!)
Parker was 7 months pregnant when she and long-time boyfriend Billy Crudup split, but that didn't stop her from rocking her new gig as a single mom when baby boy William Atticus arrived 2 months later. More recently, the actress expanded her family by adopting a baby girl, Caroline "Ash" Aberash, from Ethiopia.
Parker told Vanity Fair she doesn't think you have to be part of a traditional nuclear family to be a good mother. "A lot of children from traditional nuclear families have really unhappy childhoods, and they have dysfunctional, distant parents who don't pay attention to them. Also, some people don't plan on being single parents. It's not like you're sitting at home and thinking, 'Wow, I'd really like to do this by myself. I'd love to wake up six times a night and change diapers and have nobody to help me. That'd be great!' I certainly didn't do that."
Moynahan was 3 months pregnant when she and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady broke up, and it wasn't an easy experience. As she told Harper's Bazaar in 2008, "going through that traumatic time of being heartbroken and then being pregnant turned my whole life upside down and inside out and just knocked the wind out of me."
But the single mom to son John said she "got so much" out of the struggle. "It's golden and it's tough and it was f--ked up. But now I have a child, and it's the best thing in the world."
Today, Moynahan and Brady are co-parenting pros. In fact, when the Pats won the Super Bowl this year--and her son was watching his dad make history -- Moynahan tweeted: "Congratulations to the @Patriots! Sweet #4" to her nearly 41,000 twitter followers. That's one graceful (and gorgeous!) single mom.