Single Mom With MS

Proud Mama ~ 1994

I’ve been a single mom for a long time. It’s very much a part of my identity. My former husband has always played a role in our son’s life, which I’m so thankful for, but on a day-to-day basis it’s just me and Jake.

Sometimes I wonder if MS is part of the reason I’m a single mom. I recently came across a really interesting article online that cited a study showing that divorce and separation rates are consistently higher among couples in which one person has a disability or chronic illness.

The study, by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, found that 96% of breakups among couples with MS involved a situation in which the woman was the person living with MS. Yes, the rate of MS is higher in women, but that percentage is still alarming.

Another finding: The longer that people had been married, the more likely they were to stick together after a diagnosis.

When I read those statistics, I realized the odds were against Andy and I. We were married in May of 1992 — I was a mere 21 years old and he was 25. On Dec. 22, 1993, we welcomed a healthy, happy baby boy named Jake. Eight months later, my recurrent optic neuritis convinced my eye doctor to run some tests to rule out a few things. The MRI showed MS lesions, some of which I likely had since I was 12 when I lost the vision in my left eye.

Fast forward to over a year later, and I was moving out of the house that Andy and I had built together. We would soon file for divorce. It wasn’t something that I ever envisioned for myself, or wanted for my family. We’ve remained friends and have done our best to parent Jake together; and I think we’ve done a pretty good job if Jake is any reflection! There are plenty of days I wish we had been older, wiser and stronger. Strong enough to beat the odds and survive — even thrive — as a family.

Yet, I’m also a big believer that everything happens for a reason. I believe that raising Jake mostly on my own, when mom is sometimes “sick,” has been a good thing. He’s extremely compassionate, very empathetic, and incredibly loving.

I’m not saying he’s this way because his mom has lived with MS for almost his whole life, but I can’t help but think it has played a role in shaping the wonderful young man he is today at age 18.

I didn’t ask for MS and I didn’t want my marriage to end. But stuff happens. For better or for worse. I’d like to think for the better.

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13 thoughts on “Single Mom With MS

  1. Of all the different signs and symptoms of multiple sclerosis, some sort of tingling or even pain discomfort in a minumum of one extremity is one of the most popular. Milliseconds …Multiple Sclerosis

  2. You’re an amazing Mom, Tricia! I’ve also seen a compassion and empathy in my kids that I can’t help but think is connected to them only knowing me with MS. It is one of the many positives I’ve found in living with this disease. 🙂

  3. Shauna Fischer says:

    How amazing R U!!!!!! You are truly an inspiration to ALL of us!!!! Thank you for sharing your story…… give so many HOPE!

  4. Petra Bianchi says:

    You are a continuous role model for me….our stories are very similar. We spoke about ten years ago after I was diagnosed and I have never forgotten your care and support. You may receive an email from me soon…I need some guidance once again. Thank you for all that you do, and all that you are…..Bless You!! xoxo

  5. Dana says:

    I’m also a single mom living with MS. I am 29 years old, diagnosed a year ago, when my son was just 9 months old. His father and I were never married, but were together for 4 years, and he is very much a part of my son’s life, which I also appreciate so much. But like you said, day to day, it’s just my boy and me. You definitely are a great inspiration and I hope to have a great story like yours and be such an inspiration to others one day!

  6. Karen says:

    Hearing your story brings hopes to my situtation. On Monday, I will have had MS for 20 years. My boyfriend of 15 years, has filed for custody of our 21-month old daughter and is using my MS against me. I’m so worried he’ll get custody on his terms of me seeing her every other weekend. Truly an inspiring story…thank you.

  7. 28robo says:

    Great article. I am a male with MS, I am married but it is quite a struggle at times. I feel like I am more of a burden which is understandable.

  8. […] I’m still on my injection therapy, Copaxone, but I still consider this new drug to be great progress for the MS patient world. I think back to 1994 when I was diagnosed; at the time there was only one therapy available. One! I was on Betaseron for over two years before switching to the new Avonex because a once-a-week injection sounded much more appealing than an every-other-day injection. I suffered from horrible side effects while on both therapies. I felt like I had the flu 24/7, making it difficult to work full time and take care of my baby boy as a single mother. […]

  9. Marsha says:

    Thanks for your words, I am a single mom with two children. I was divorced for about two years when I was diagnosed with MS and boy did that put the breaks on having any sort of social life! At first, anyway. I’ve learned to cope with it, it’s hard enough being a single mom and finding any time to date. Right now I’m just focusing on raising my two beautiful children and will be finished obtaining my Masters degree this Fall. But I just wanted to say thank you for mentioning how your MS has helped to shape your son, Jake, into a beautiful young man. I realize, it has also helped to shaped my children into compassionate, patient, beautiful individuals. It’s a definite contribution to their character. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Michelle McKague says:

    You sound like an incredible person and an amazing mother! I myself am a single mother as well and have had MS for over 12 years. It isn’t easy at all but it’s very rewarding. You should be very proud of yourself and yes I believe that all things happen for a reason as well.

  11. Chrissy says:

    I am in my early 30s, been living with MS for 10yrs and found out I am now pregnant. I ended the relationship with the baby’s father before I found out I was pregnant. I will NOT be getting back together with him. Are there any tips someone has for raising your first child while you have MS? Thank you.

  12. Kirsten says:

    Very interesting read. I’ too, am a single mother with MS, and I liked that you brought up that study. When my husband left me after my diagnosis, my neurologist even said that it seemed to happen quite often. The disease either strengthens a relationship, or causes it to fall apart.

    I’d love for you to check out my new site No, I’m Not Drunk (, because I think we lead very similar lives!

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