“Autism ~ Single Old Lady Style” Written by Christi Richie

One of the most difficult things I face in parenting children with special needs is being a single parent. Beyond my desire for companionship, to talk or vent with someone who can relate to the stress in my life (because it is their life too!) and for a snuggle buddy, it really comes down to the simple fact that “two are better than one”. My boys are my priority, so if I get involved it has to be with someone who loves them wholeheartedly and will share the load, to be blunt. Of course, I am such a catch that men will be knocking down my door when they find out I am available. After all, dating sites claim there are millions of men out there looking for women just like me. You know, they go for the full-figured, going-on-50 type of gal! Okay, to be more realistic, maybe they will see beyond my flaws and actually go out on a date with me… but when they meet my children, will they go running for the hills? So, I have decided to let my myriad of potential suitors know what they face upfront while also finding out what skills they have to offer. Thus, I have written the following “ad” to place on those wonderful dating websites. Do you enjoy back “massages” from little feet kicking you as you sleep? Is your hearing poor enough that constant LOUD noise doesn’t bother you? Do you savor a good debate… about everything you say? Are you fluent in whine? Have words really never hurt you? Is changing a five-year-old’s poopy diapers the highlight of your day? Can you run fast while yelling STOP at the top of your lungs? Do you know at least one form of safe physical restraint? Have you honed your advocacy skills lately? Does the thought of never facing “empty-nest syndrome” give you warm fuzzies? Are you good at installing deadbolts and window locks… repairing holes in walls? Do you enjoy having company in the bathroom? Can you sleep soundly while a child’s body is wedged underneath yours, yet also sleep lightly enough to waken at the sound of little footsteps? Are your reflexes lightning-fast enough to duck when an object is thrown at your head from close proximity? Do you concentrate well in the presence of repetitive annoying sounds? Does your personal library include books on special needs laws, advocacy, IEPs, augmented communication, sensory issues and other topics not found in the average collection? Will your shoulder and elbow joints withstand the weight of a child going suddenly limp while holding your hand? Can you remain cool during meltdowns? Are you undaunted at the prospect of losing friends who cannot tolerate your children? Do you have enough energy to be a father even though you are old enough to be a grandfather? Do you LOVE children… I mean REALLY ADORE them? If you answered yes to the last question and I haven’t scared you away, then you may be the man for us! In return, you will receive abundant joy at making a huge difference in a child’s life, delight when your children get sooooo excited just because you walked through the door, hero status, a special pass to go to the front of the line at Disneyland, a full cardio workout every day (why pay for a gym membership?), tons of little boy hugs and kisses and undying affection from yours truly…plus the BEST back massages while you sleep! So…hit me up? (Christi_Ritchie@mamaneedsadate.com)

Shared on our page at Single Mothers who have Children with Autism by Christi Richie.



  1. As a single Mom of a 4 year old and almost 50 (49 this year), I’m sooo happy I read this and laughed as hard as I did!! Wow another Mom that can totally relate to my circumstances in life! Thank you, thank you for making me smile today. 😀

  2. Karen

    I love, Love, LOVE this! I have recently decided to stick my neck out into the dating world and want to try out the internet sites (cause let’s face it, where else am I going to meet someone when all I do is sit home with my child or go to therapy appointments?). I might have to do my own variation of this.

  3. Kristine

    Though I am not almost 50, I am just 2 years from being 40. I absolutely LOVE this letter. Sounds just like my house. It almost mirrors my life entirely. But, my 2 boys (both with autism) are the light of my life, the breath that keeps me breathing and the blood that keeps my heart pumping. I wouldn’t trade either of them for a single date!
    @Karen, I am right there with ya sister! My life outside of my children is right here in this little box. I go on trips through the internet just because I cannot ever leave my apartment. LOL One day, I will get out there on a real date at some point. By then, my children will have already decided they have had enough of me. By then, I’ll be looking at retirement homes for company LOL

  4. I spent years single parenting seven (yes, you read that right… seven) children, and the number 5 child has autism. Stunning that I found time to date at all, but I did, and yes, I used internet dating sites to help me with the process. I found a lot of nice guys and a lot of creeps as well. My profile was always captioned “I Complete Me, But I’m Looking for Company.” Early on I determined that my best bets were guys who had custody of their own children. That said a lot about them right off the bat. They understood better when I cancelled or was running late “because there was a meltdown” or “sorry, the clinging delayed my departure from home” or that someone started vomiting just as I was putting my earrings in. I finally dated this one guy who had none of the qualifications I was looking for. He wasn’t a UVA graduated attorney. He didn’t have a PhD. He wasn’t worldly – had never been to Kennedy Center, eaten sushi, done a wine tasting, or been to a restaurant that required a tie and jacket. He was a bubba. He had custody of his daughter though, so that got him enough points for a date. I figured coffee and a handshake.

    My mistake.

    Our first date was cancelled because my autistic son was in the middle of a med change and hadn’t slept for three days. Every other guy I was talking with was sort of like “Um, ok, well, you go deal with that and uh… I’ll see you when you’re done.” This bubba guy said “What can I do to help? Can I come sit with him for a while so you can sleep?” I was like “Whoa! We haven’t even met in person and already he’s offering to help with my son?” Off guard doesn’t begin to describe what I was feeling. I politely declined his offer, but made a mental note about it. The date we actually WENT on broke all my rules. Rule #1 – meet in a public place. (We met in a deserted parking lot.) Rule #2 – maintain your own method of transportation for easy departure. (I parked my car and got into his to ride an hour away to our destination – a wine festival.) Rule #3 – first dates are allotted 2 hours (we were gone all day and after the wine festival, went to dinner.) Rule #4 – no one meets my kids until we have been exclusively dating each other for 6 months (he met my kids less than 2 weeks in at a cookout at his place.)

    The bottom line was that this guy was everything I never knew I always wanted. He was sweet, sincere, honest, patient, calm, family-oriented, stable and steady, and most of all he was up for a challenge. My grandparents would have loved him. My grandfather would have chosen him for me. He loves golf like my granddad did. He can fix anything. He can suck all the meat out of a chicken neckbone. He knows how to carve ham and plant a vegetable garden. As if all that wasn’t enough, he handles my son beautifully.

    We got married. It’ll be 6 years on February 1. I’m not a single mom any more. When I’m tired, he puts my son to bed. My boy is 18 now and still requires way more than typical feeding and watering of a young man that age. My husband is right there for all of it. He’s helped to clean up 3a.m. poopy parties. He pulls out the steam cleaner without a sound – no complaints, no mumbling. He helps me to train new personal care attendants. He makes the mac and cheese with just the right amount of everything. He knows to use the green cup and to ask “Did you wash your hands? Did you flush?” He has now been to Kennedy Center, eaten sushi, been to wine tastings and to a restaurant requiring tie and jacket. When attendants call in, he will leave his government job to come home and get my son off the bus if I am not home. He is priceless.

    What sort of a guy is this? How do you find them? I fell into a patch of lucky, but he was on two of the dating sites I used and on both of them I came up as a match for him. On our first date, he shared with me that along with his daughter, he’d had a son who had died at age 10 months from a failed heart surgery for a cardiac defect found at birth. He had begged the doctors to do anything they could to save him, even if it meant caring for him for the rest of his life. They couldn’t do anything. He said it had taught him that anything you had to do for any child in order to keep them healthy and with you at home was better than the alternative of losing a child the way he had. This is where his patience comes from.

    I’m a firm believer that God puts people in your life for a reason. I was out there looking for what I wanted for myself. Instead, I found what I needed for my family. Not a bad deal.

    • Hi Kimberly. Would you mind if I shared this on our facebook page at “Single Mothers Who Have Children With Autism?” I think it would be inspirational to a lot of moms in our group.

    • Wow. That was beautiful. Thank you for sharing your inspirational story!

    • Allison Bookstaber

      Wow is all I can say… Brought tears to my eyes. You are blessed.

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