Of all the titles in the world, one of the most difficult, but arguably rewarding, has got to be that of “mother” or “father.” It’s a job that’s even tougher when it’s done without a partner, leaving all the more difficult parts of the experience on the shoulders of just one person. Today, on National Single Parent Day, we’re tipping our hats to all the single moms and dads (holla!) out there that have sacrificed everything to provide the best life possible for their little tykes. Below, find our homage to 13 single celebrity parents that have made it look like a breeze, even if they’re barely holding it together (like working mom Scarlett Johansson just copped to). Here’s to you, guys.
1. Sandra Bullock: Sandra Bullock had initially filed papers to adopt her seven-year-old son Louis Bardo Bullock with now ex-husband Jesse James. The young boy was even living with the couple as a family for four months following his birth. Bullock and James abruptly separated, then divorced, but the Miss Congeniality star wasn’t about to give up her newly crowned title as a mother. She legally adopted Louis as a single parent, adding a baby girl named Laila to the mix back in 2015.
2. Michelle Williams: Williams famously lost her partner, Heath Ledger, back in 2008. The My Week With Marilyn star has since opened up about the difficulties of raising their now 11-year-old daughter on her own, telling Porter magazine late last year that “for pretty much everything else, I’m a believer in not fighting circumstances, accepting where you are and where you’ve been. In all senses but one — I would be able to totally go down that road of thinking were it not for Matilda not having her dad. You know, that’s just something that doesn’t… I mean, it just won’t ever be right.”
3. Sheryl Crow: Like Bullock, Crow forged ahead with her urge to start a family even after splitting from her former fiancé, cyclist Lance Armstrong. She adopted her now nine-year-old son Wyatt roughly one year after the couple went their separate ways, and six-year-old son Levi followed in 2010. “I had to let go of this picture I’d always painted about my life, about how it was going to be set up with a husband, a house, and all that,” she revealed to Health magazine in 2012. “At the time I was considering adopting, everything else had sort of not worked.” The singer went to say, “When you let go of the story you tell, a lot of times it creates a whole world of expansion for other things to come in. And I always knew that I wanted to be a mom, so I just had great faith that when that little person found me, that I would be ready and everything would be fine.” (Photo via Jason Merritt/Getty)
4. Liam Neeson: Fans of Love Actually know Liam Neeson’s character Daniel as the lovable widower who encourages his son Sam to follow his heart at any cost, but few may be aware that Neeson actually ended up living out his character’s storyline IRL after his wife of 15 years, Natasha Richardson, passed away just six years after the film’s release. The late actress had a fatal ski accident, leaving Neeson to raise their two sons, Michaél and Daniel (then 13 and 12) on his own. “It’s an ongoing joy being a dad,” he said while speaking to The Daily Mail in 2012. “It’s always a joy, but it’s a joyful worry.”
5. January Jones: Jones gave birth to son Xander in 2011, though she has never revealed the identity of her child’s father. After six years, however, the Mad Men actress seems to have the whole single mom thing down pat, telling Red magazine just several months back that despite attempts from others to set her up with someone, “I just don’t feel I need a partner. Do I want one? Maybe. But I don’t feel unhappy or lonely.” She certainly doesn’t have any regrets about the way things turned out, saying, “I don’t believe in regret. I just try to be a better person. Try to be a better mum. Maybe it’s an ego thing. But I think even missteps are done for a reason.”
6. Cristiano Ronaldo: Ronaldo, like Jones, has never revealed the identity of his seven-year-old son Cristiano’s mother, but did announce via Facebook that he would be raising the boy on his own with full custody. His single dad status doesn’t seem to bother the soccer star, who spoke out about being a father in the 2015 documentary, Ronaldo. “It was always my dream to have a child young, when I was 25,” he said. “Lots of people don’t have either a mother or a father. Having a father is enough.” Fair point!
7. Ricky Martin: The “Shake Your Bon-Bon” singer became a single daddy twice over with the birth of his twin boys, Matteo and Valentino, via surrogate back in 2008. Martin seemingly took to single fatherhood like a fish to water, telling radio host Luisa Fernanda back in 2014 that if it were up to him, he’d have up to four more children, preferably daughters. “If you ask me if I want to be the father of a little girl, [I’ll say] not one, but four! I’m just getting started with this fatherhood thing and I’m going for more.” As the former Menudo band member, who has since found a partner in fiancé Jwan Yosef, explained, “I come from a big family and I like noise and chaos in my house.” (Photo via Getty)
7. Connie Britton: Nashville’s most beloved character was not only a fantastic mom on the hit CMT show, but she also raised her adopted son Eyob (AKA“Yoby”) entirely on her own. Though the actress admitted to Redbook several years back that the situation wasn’t ideal for her, saying, “I would love to be doing this with a partner, and I want Yoby to have a father figure,“ she also said that she wouldn’t subject herself or a relationship to that kind of pressure. As for life with her six-year-old, Britton said that while she’s “constantly being pulled in different directions,” it’s not all bad. “When you’re doing it on your own, you don’t have to [argue over] how you’re raising the kids.” Touché, Britton. Touché.
8. Larry Birkhead: Perhaps the most famous daddy/daughter duo on our list is that of Larry Birkhead and his daughter, Dannielynn. Birkhead famously fought tooth and nail to be named as the rightful father of his little girl after his paternity was contested by another of his late partner Anna Nicole Smith’s rumored paramours, lawyer Howard K. Stern. Smith passed away in 2007 as the result of a prescription medication overdose. Dannielynn’s rightful daddy appeared on Steve Harvey last summer to talk about his experiences, saying that it had been a “non-stop whirlwind. I make it as normal as I can… she’s like any other kid; she goes to school with every other kid and she’s a Girl Scout. She does things that I think her mom would be really proud of her for.” *Tear*
9. Padma Lakshmi: Lakshmi documented her journey from being a child raised by a single mother to raising a daughter on her own in her 2016 memoir, Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir, and has spoken on the issue at length in interviews, as well. “It’s the only way of life I’ve known,” she reportedly told the New York Post. It’s not a title Lakshmi particularly minds, however: “I was told I couldn’t have children, so every day, I am kissing the sky with happiness about it.” The Top Chef host doesn’t take all the credit, though. “I’m very privileged,” she said. “I have a lot of hands helping me… my nanny is awesome.”
10. Elizabeth Hurley: Elizabeth Hurley didn’t receive
much any support from son Damian’s father, Steve Bing, when she gave birth to him back in 2002 — in fact, Bing forced the family to undergo a paternity test to prove he was the rightful father. Though Hurley has reportedly admitted to ES magazine that being a single parent isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be (“I’ve been a single mother once and I’m sure every single mother in the world would agree with me — it sucks”), the Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery actress has never wavered in her dedication to her son. “It’s not easy, but my philosophy has been for the past 11 years since having my son, is that he comes first. And that’s easy. I’m never torn about it,” she told Rescu in 2014. (Photo via John Phillips/Getty)
11. Patton Oswalt: Oswalt became a single dad rather unexpectedly when his wife, Michelle McNamara, died in her sleep at just 46 from what Oswalt says was a combination of an unknown heart condition and medications. The comedian got real about his new unfamiliar territory with Conan in September of last year, saying, “I’m a widower. And if I put it in really basic terms, I’m like every bad ‘80s sitcom where there’s a dad raising a kid by himself… except my ‘80s sitcom sucks.” Despite his funnyman status, however, Oswalt revealed that the laughs hadn’t been rolling for him as of late, going on to say, “There’s no punch lines. There’s a lot of insomnia. There’s a lot of me eating Cheetos for dinner.” (Photo via Jesse Grant/Getty)
12. Joe Biden: Former Vice President Joe Biden may be best known these days for his role as the former Vice President to President Barack Obama (along with the hilarious internet memes that swept the internet during their time in office, now potentially being immortalized in film), but for his sons Beau and Hunter and daughter Ashley, he’s best known as “Dad.” That title was especially important, perhaps, following the 1972 car crash that tragically killed his first wife, Neilla, and their 13-month-old daughter, Naomi. Biden took his oaths in the Senate just one year later, reportedly commuting from Washington to Delaware nightly to be with his kids as their sole source of support. Biden remarried in 1977 with his current wife Jill, and it would seem that he’s done alright by his three kids — his youngest is now 35, and just debuted her first collection at NYFW. (Photo via David McNew/Getty)
13. Charlize Theron: Though the 41-year-old was briefly engaged to actor Sean Penn back in 2014, her journey of motherhood has largely been a solo one since she first adopted her son Jackson back in 2012. She spoke about juggling her work and home life with The Today Show then, saying that while taking him along for Snow White & the Huntsman press tour, she’d become an expert diaper changer. “I can do it in my sleep now. I am so good… I’m like the diaper pro,” she quipped. So good, was Theron, in fact, that she went on to adopt another baby; a daughter named August. “Choosing to be a mom in my late 30s has been really great for me,” she divulged to W magazine that same year. “It’s given me perspective.”
Which single celeb parent quote do you relate to most? Share with us @BritandCo.
(Photo via Getty)