Guest contributor: Joseph Longcore

Single Parenting and the Aspiring Writer

categories: Cocktail Hour


Joseph and Lillie

When Bill asked me to write about being a single parent and a writer I suddenly realized it has been something like 3 years since I’ve written anything. It has definitely been that long since I’ve published anything.

In fact, I had basically given up on writing. I hadn’t had much success, and definitely haven’t made much money doing it.

To complicate things even further, my daughter Lillie was born in 2011.

I also had to take another job so I could better care for my daughter.

Now, I really had limited time to write as most of my time was devoted to taking care of Lillie.

I will spare all of you the drama of failed relationship, breakup, and custody ordeal.

I was awarded full-custody of Lillie November, 2012.

I had written a children’s book that I couldn’t seem to get anywhere with, so that was another ego-deflating event.

With Michigan’s economy I was happy just to have a job, because there are still plenty without one.

Needless to say by the end of the day I am tired, sore, and I have to come home and care for my 2 yr old.

When I finally get her into bed I am just about dead myself, and find myself in bed soon after she goes to sleep.

Rightfully so, she wants my attention when I am home, she wants me to color, she wants me to sit with her to watch her movie, even though its Happy Feet which we have both seen a gazillion times she still comes up to me and says “daddy hold me” –now what parent could resist that?

Then I have total Mr. Mom responsibilities, cook, and clean, work, play.

Writing anything seemed almost impossible at the time, and all I managed to accomplish was writing down some ideas about things to write about in the future.

Prior to all of this I was working on a book project about our local birds of prey, and the recovery of the bald eagles, peregrine falcons, osprey and other birds of prey.

In fact, a huge inspiration for this project was Dave’s book ‘Return of the Osprey’.

As I read and re-read his book I found myself thinking ‘I like this guy’.

A lot of the things he wrote about osprey I had been doing over here in Michigan with eagles and whatnot.

The biggest difference was that I was out there trying to photograph these birds where Dave watched and wrote about it.

During the last year I often thought about how I could get back into writing, and if I would ever finish my project. I don’t know if I will ever get my book published or not, but I want to write it anyway.

So this is how I got back into writing. I knew once I said yes I was going to write something.

I have written most of this story while Lillie is asleep. It’s the best time to write without her interrupting my thoughts.

However, once she asked what I was doing and I told her I was writing a story she got one of her colored pencils and some paper and sat next to me and said she was writing. I am already shaping her into a bird/nature lover already and now perhaps a writer too? Gotta love it.

So here I sit, it’s something like 2AM, and I am typing away, while my baby is asleep.

She fell asleep watching Happy Feet 2 which was the first bird she could identify on sight.

It’s been almost a year since Lillie came to live with me, and I often remember some old commercial where this girl is talking about being a teen parent, and she says her life is baby baby baby.

Well that’s my life these days. I go to work, and come home to my 2 yr old. My ex chased off most of my friends, and all but a couple quit coming around because I have a 2 yr old.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In fact I kind of get a kick out of people who ask me ‘isn’t it hard?’

Honestly this isn’t as hard as I initially anticipated.

I am smart enough to get on the phone and call my friends who are moms and ask them what to do.

I talk to my own mother more now than I have in years.

One thing for certain, is that I start every day with a smile.

I always say good morning to her when she wakes up, so now when she wakes up she stands up with her blanket and says ‘Good morning daddy’.

The next things she says will be her asking for chocolate milk, and then ‘cover my toes.’

It is worth every sacrifice I have made and will make in my life.


[Joseph Longcore is a writer and photographer.  He’s got 3 kids, lives in Michigan, and is interested in birds. Especially raptors.]


  1. Debora writes:

    Hi Joseph! Great piece. Lillie is SO cute! One thing I’ve learned on Bill and Dave’s is that it’s our daughter, our dog, our roof over our head, our disease, too much scarf dancing and on and on that makes it hard for us to sit down and do the work of writing. I never tire of these stories…they remind me that I’m not alone in my personal strife or my aspirations, both of which can be deeply isolating. I have this t-shirt that says, It Was The Best of Times. When you turn it inside out it says, It Was The Worst of Times. Do you know that I have never been able to walk around with It Was The Worst of Times written across my chest. I always always wear, It Was The Best of Times. There is just something about belief that makes all the difference.

    • Joseph Longcore writes:

      Thank you so much. You know, i was really afraid i had lost the ability to write. Everything else suddenly was a higher priority. The custody thing especially. Lillie is as adorable in real life as in her photos. Then to see the comments, and see people LIKE something I’ve written! To see that Dave likes it too really means alot to me. After all, finding Dave online started it all!

  2. Elizabeth Hilts writes:

    “One thing for certain, is that I start every day with a smile.”
    Write on, Joseph Longacre. I think we need your story.