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The single mother

Lynne Bruce, 42, is a dot-com entrepreneur in Austin, Texas, and was a single mother for the past five years, until she decided to marry on January 3, 2001.

In 1992, interest rates dropped. At the time I was a mortgage loan officer. Business was great. Housing prices were rising. People were refinancing and remodeling. Everybody was feeling very hopeful. In 1993 I had an incredible year, production wise.

Then [in 1995] I had my daughter, Caroline. I wasn't married. I was told I couldn't have a child, so she was a total surprise. To me there was not an option. I really wanted her.

I terminated her father's parental rights when she was 8 months old because I felt that he would damage her more than he would help her. It's been tough. We went through a period when she was 2 1/2 or 3 when she wanted to meet her dad. I never said anything bad about him, but I told her that he lives far away and he can't come to see you. It's hard, but you have to do what you think is best for your child.

It started getting tougher and tougher for me in the mortgage business. Not only did I want to spend time with my daughter, but I would go into the office and my customers would say: "Your interest rate is X and I saw a rate for less than that on the Internet." I thought, "Oh, great. Now I have to sell myself against the Internet." I had to work two or three times as hard to get to the production levels of 1992 and 1993. I was leaving Caroline in daycare, picking her up when I came home at night. I never got to see her.

I was having a terrible time potty training her. Nothing worked. I had been trying for months. I was looking at the Web one night and I found this musical potty and I ordered it off the Internet. She loved it. It worked overnight.

I started thinking, there's a lot of things out there for parents that we don't have access to because people aren't telling us about them. In May, I started this Web site [mommyshop.com] that sells toys and other products that we have sampled and tested.

The demise of the dot-coms could not have happened at a better time for me. It hasn't hurt my business. Being in Austin, Texas, which is a technological center, helps. I have a network of students from the University of Texas I can call on to help me with packing and shipping. I keep my expenses to the bone. My office is my former dining room. My warehouse is my garage. People are amazed when they find out that this is a one-woman operation, because they say it looks like a big company. I spent a lot of money on my Web site. And even though I run it out of my home, it's a serious business.

I'm a Republican. I think Clinton has done a good job of keeping the economy fairly steady. For the most part he has been good for the country. But I cannot even tell you the amount of my dislike for that man. I think he has sent a very poor message to the American people by what he did in his personal life.

On the other hand, Hillary has been good for women because no matter what is going on in her personal life and with her husband, she's made it clear that she has her own priorities. Now she's a U.S. senator. I have a lot of respect for her. She's obviously a very strong woman.

I think it's really important, no matter what your situation, to not lose your sense of identity. I'm hoping that's part of what I'm bringing to Caroline.



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