Facebook is my babydaddy

I don’t have a husband. I have Facebook.

As a single mom, there are lots and lots of things that I can handle really, really well. I run the house, make all the meals (mostly from scratch, I’m proud to say). I own a small business that does well enough to support us – with a little extra for fun stuff and vacations. I take care of the innumerable school obligations. Birthday parties? Check. Potty training? Check. Ditto for doctor appointments, manners enforcement and issuance of a chore program. Most days I can pull together the patience to discipline the kids without losing my mind, and dole out enough hugs and praise to convince myself that they’ll never spend a single minute in the state pen.

But there is one thing that I cannot do: I cannot be my own companion. And so I turn to Facebook.

When people think about being a single parent, they immediately jump to worst-case scenarios. What if a single parent had to deal with a devastating illness, or even worse, if their child does? How would they cope with unemployment or a natural disaster? And then there are also the tiny paper cuts of daily life – loneliness, financial shortcomings and the relative uncertainty of the future.

So far, my worst cases have been thankfully nothing more than being burnt out while the kids bludgeon each other over who gets into the bath first. Or playing musical beds all night long, as two preschoolers vie for a spot next to me in my queen-size.

It’s all of the best cases – without a husband to share them – that hurt the most.

It’s those little, unexpected moments when the kids are so funny and sweet that leave me yearning for another person – a warm body, a sympathetic ear, an open heart – to take note, to belly laugh and roll his eyes and most importantly, to remember.

That is what I want and need: someone to hear me. And then I want him to remember with me.

Instead, I post our moments on Facebook.

I'm proud Lucas is man enough to use the electric power saw toy as a hair dryer on the toy dinosaur.


Helena's take on the election: “Maybe they can both get the job and work it out.”

I’ve gotten really good at crafting snippets of my children’s dialogue that I believe sketch out each of their personalities as well as our family dynamic.

My four-year-old, Helena, is known among mfb heart likey 608“friends” for being hilarious, droll and wise beyond her years:

Me: Please eat four bites of oatmeal since you're 4.
Helena: Let' s pretend I'm 1.


Helena: I saw a butterfly!
Me: Oh yeah? What color was it?
H: The inside was orange, and the outside was brown and crappy.


Unprompted, and with sincerity and eye contact, Helena walked around the dining table and said, “I'm sorry I said your breakfast was gross. And I'm sorry I whined.”

Meanwhile, Lucas, at 2, never ceases to slay me with his sweetness and generosity. Apparently, he slays a lot of people, according to the numbers of thumbs-ups I’ve received on posts describing this little boy:

Me: In this picture you’re in mommy's tummy.
Lucas: I hiding.


Morning with Lucas …

L: I kiss eyebrows. (Kisses my eyebrows. I return the favor.)
L: I kiss ears. (repeat)
L: I kiss chin. (repeat)
L: I kiss cheeks. (repeat)
L: I kiss mustache. (frown)


Sweetest Lucas habit of late: As he snuggles into bed, he asks, “Hold hand, Mommy?” and gives me a squeeze with his chubby warm fingers, then says, “I love you.” I could just die.

Each of these posts serves several purposes. For one, all of the digital high-fives give me a genuine sense of affirmation and companionship. These people, too, see how brilliant, how witty, how fantastic my kids are. It’s not just me! I am not alone!

Helena: Do you know how you get old?
Me: How?
Helena: You get decorations all all all all over your body.
Helena: Oh yea? What do the decorations look like?
Helena: You know like Great-Grandma Shirley? Like that.
Me: Wrinkles?
Helena: Yea, wrinkles.


Lucas, about his dinosaur: “He nice guy. He no bite you.”

Facebook also serves as a log of our lives. While I may not have a significant other to share in creating an oral history of our family, Mark Zuckerberg created the Timeline. I envision the day when my children dig into my posts and see just how much I cherished their every little quip, and through my words (not to mention the hundreds of approving “likes” and LOLing comments) will come to know themselves through what will be their own scrollable history.

Mom brag: Friday night I took the kids to a nice neighborhood bistro where they sat quietly at the table, ate all their food, chatted with the wait staff, respectfully shared dessert, and were entirely delightful dinner companions.


Triumph: Helena is systematically giving butch haircuts (neatly, over the garbage can) to all of her Barbies and other plastic dolls with unreasonably long locks.

Social media has replaced a husband in several other ways. If there were an engaged father living in my house, we would certainly consult each other on all child-rearing issues. Instead, I post my questions on Facebook.

Anyone else use shame to discipline their children? As in:

“Do you see anyone else sucking on a ketchup bottle in this restaurant?”
“You are the only naked person on this entire beach.”
“Civilized people do not pick their noses.”


A husband would also share my enthusiasm for planned vacations, or cheer me on about new work projects – roles that my Facebook tribe now fill. These folks “share” links to the articles I write, “like” my blog fan page, and offer encouragement and good will in response to my daily happenings.

On the flipside, my collective Facebook spouse satisfies a good chunk of my human need for good old-fashioned company. After all, my dream husband and I would chitchat about the latest news every morning. We’d email each other video clips and interesting articles and hilarious pictures of our kids. Now I do those things with 608 people – most of whom I’ve never met in real life.

Of course, co-parenting is not always as easy as uploading an iPhone pic to a hearty reception of emoticons. I was reminded of this recently when I posted:

Me: If you don’t stop playing with your penis at the breakfast table, I will take it away.

“Now I’m worried about you,” chided a real-life (and also FB) friend in the comments. What? My quippy little comments are not universally awesome? Well, no they are not, as my real-life ex-husband will readily tell you.

Real-life romantic relationships are also equal parts simple and complicated on Facebook. Some months ago, after a few dates, a love interest and I took the always-wobbly step and became Facebook friends. I found pictures of his ex-girlfriend (who looked young, crazy), and his friends (cool, interesting, normal). Without meeting my kids, a prospective mate can scroll through slices of our life over the past four years. It’s as if my posts and pics serve as an OKCupid profile of my family.

The classy Johnson-Tambakakis bedtime convo:
Me: “Helena, did you fart?”
Helena: “No, you farted!”
Lucas: “I fart.”


This morning I woke an hour early to write, but the monkeys got up extra-early. So we sat in a heap on the couch, shared our dreams from the night before and watched the sun rise.

“Here,” it says. “Have a look. This is the whole package! Aren’t we great looking? Funny and sweet? Look! Here we are doing interesting and charming things! Wanna come along?”

About Emma Johnson

Wealthysinglemommy.com founder  Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist and author. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker," her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Emma's Top Single Mom Resources.


  1. Ana on April 25, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    I love that you share dreams in the morning. I thought I was the only one :-)

  2. pinkmaman on November 28, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    Hey, Emma,
    I just found your blog and I”m loving it;
    I’m a new single mother of 3 aged, 1, 3 and 5.
    After 2 years on parental leave, I got back to work, moved accross the country (I’m in France, btw), going through everything by myself, because I’m a woman, and I can!
    You’re inspiring and I can’t wait to have more time to read all your posts.
    Thank you.

  3. Jonmarie Pearson on September 22, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Your article made me realize that FB as helped me more than I ever gave it credit for. As being a military widow FB has helped me with my grief. Thank you for making me realize that. :-) Before my husband’s death I would have shared things with my husband either talking or emailing him when he was deployed. After his death I didn’t have that outlet….Facebook has given me that outlet. It has also given me a way to stay connected with the soldiers that have were in his life. I’m definitely more thankful for FB now.

    • Emma on September 25, 2013 at 2:10 pm

      Nice to hear your perspective Jonmarie – I’ve found all kinds of commaraderie and comfort from various forms of social media over the years, including a writer’s forum, support groups and, yes, Facebook. thanks for sharing

  4. Emma on February 24, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    ha! That is what I’m here for …

  5. Erica Driscoll on February 24, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Thank you for finally making me feel NORMAL with my facebook obsession! Greatly appreciated!!!

  6. Kristen on January 25, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Once again, I really enjoyed your post :)

    Kristen, FOM (friend of Morghan)

    • Emma on January 25, 2013 at 11:41 am

      Thanks!! xo another FOM

  7. Chris Hedge (@issueman09) on January 25, 2013 at 11:15 am

    thank you for this. I too am single parent, about to be raising my son on my own. I feel the same about the desire for the mate at times, but overall my fb family is who that is shared with until further notice. And I so love the idea of my timeline being something my kids can go back and read like a journal when I am gone

    • Emma on January 25, 2013 at 11:41 am

      Thanks Chris – the use of FB as journal is kinda laziness on my part, but it is what it is.

  8. Emma on January 24, 2013 at 5:28 am

    Right!? I guess FB can be the Crazy 8 Ball …. just ask your FB friends what to do … I’ve gotten good recipes that way!

  9. Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle on January 23, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    I wish Facebook could make the tough decisions for me. Should I change jobs? Which stock to buy? Is this a good used car or a lemon?

    And the biggest decisions of all – what to pack for lunches and what to make for supper?

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