An elderly woman is going viral on TikTok after sharing her candid and honest story about being a young single mom. As part of a TikTok stitch, SJ Mendelson, aka TikTok user @sjmendleson1 responded to another woman’s video in which she is in her car, crying, and asking people for tips since she was now a “newly single mom.”
Mendelson’s video has now garnered over 2.4 million views and over 425k likes. Boasting over 400k followers, the TikTok community lovingly refers to her as “TikTokBubbie.”
The 73-year-old actress and comedian then dove into her story of how she was left by her husband in the late 80s and worked her butt off to create a life for herself and her son.
“In 1989, my then-husband left me and my 4.5 year old son, took everything. I had nothing. He took the bank account. He took everything,” she started.
She then continues to explain that she had no choice but to start over, thankful that she could now do life her way and not have to worry about her then-husband’s opinions or thoughts. “So I started from scratch, gratefully, that I didn’t have to listen to his bologna anymore,” she explained.
Though she was happy to be on her own, Mendelson admitted that it was not always a smooth journey for her and her son, recalling how she sacrificed her career dreams for the sake of her family.
“It was a struggle,” she continued. “I went and got a job. I gave up my acting career, which I loved, and started selling lightbulbs over the phone.”
After excelling at her job as a salesperson, she went on to make her own company. The best part? “I didn’t have to give him any money,” Mendelson said with a smile, referring to her ex-husband.
She then directs her attention to the mom in the original video. “You can do it,” she encourages.
Mendelson’s comment section was flooded with words of solidarity and encouragement. One user, raised by a single mom, wrote, “single parents are super hereos. I’m proud to be raised by my mama.”
Another single mom shared her own story of survival. “I did this 10yrs ago. I worked full time and was a student full time with two kids under four. We slept in one queen size bed, had our clothes, little kitchen table and toys for my kids. I had hand me downs and saved every penny I could. I worked very hard for everything and I’ve built a home for us. little by little. It’s hard but so rewarding too. Love goes a long way with kids,” she wrote.
One TikTok user pointed out Mendelson’s poignant use of the word “gratefully” when telling her story of being a single mom. “*Gratefully* I admire that you added this. Sometimes we forget to be grateful even through the toughest times. Thank you for sharing this with us 💕,” they wrote.
In a follow-up video, Mendelson shared even more advice for single parents, pulling from her own experiences. “Take care of yourself first,” she advised. “When you take care of yourself first, you can take care of your kid.”
“Or take care of your kid first, and then take care of yourself,” she continued.
She went on to explain that if she could provide for her son and meet his needs, then she would be okay too. “As long as my son had food on the table and a roof over his head; he had a happy mama,” she said with a smirk.
As for dating as a single mom? She recommends something very interesting. “Date yourself,” she said, laughing. “I bought myself flowers. I took myself out to the movies when my son was with his father.”
Mendelson’s words of wisdom and encouragement are a promising and hopeful reminder that single parents can get through the mess and make the best life for themselves and their kids (and then go viral on TikTok).