3 Single Mama Memoirs I Love

indexA couple years ago I wrote here about Dear Mr. You, short essays about various men that passed through the author’s life. The author happens to be a famous actress which kind of makes it that much more juicy. I love her stories of crossing paths with someone from years to just mere moments and how each can leave their own significant impact.





indexI recently came across Safekeeping by Abigail Thomas. This book is similar to Dear Mr. You in the way it is formatted – very short essays about ex-husbands and parenting her children – both alone and with partners. It is kind of ideal reading for a busy, distracted new(ish) single mom like myself because the essays are so short and sweet and poignant. And also because they were published once the author’s children were grown up. So you will get served a lot of really helpful perspective. My favorite essay features a giant inflatable banana, such a bizarre symbol for an epiphany.



single momThe third book I wanted to share, I’m very excited about. I’ve really been loving comic books and graphic novels over the past several years and this one is amazing, powerful, inspirational. I am so glad this author shared her story and in this format no less. Yet another graphic novel that makes me think: hey why don’t I write one?! If only it were easy as that. 😉  The Amazing True Story of a Teenage Single Mom comes highly recommended. I love how much this mom loves her kid and how she powers through some very difficult times. I’m reading my child a slightly edited version of the story and we are loving it.


Intentions / February 2018


Drink deep, here’s what I’ve been up to:

Eating / Vitamin D supplements from my favorite brand. Trying to boost ourselves up against all these cold and flu viruses going around.

Drinking / Detox tea. Not trying to be “detoxed” but it is a nice, warming winter tea.

Practicing / Patience during my child’s bike riding frustration.

Learning / To fall asleep earlier.

Trying / To regain old skills.

Playing / With how I look at things, trying to flip it and reverse it. ?naem I tahw wonk uoy

Loving / My kid as much as ever. And always, ALWAYS, trying to see other parent’s kids through those same mama lenses. (Keeping this here from last month because I think it is so important).

Reading, me / Peaceful Neighbor (about Mr. Rogers).

Reading, kid / Just got some comic book style early readers because my kid always wants to look at the comics on my shelf.

Anticipating / Going to see Mount Eerie.

Cooking / Up some camping plans.

Working / On being a force in this life.

Wanting / Collective action.


On Not Raising Bullies & Bystanders: 10 Children’s Books

Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander. – Yehuda Bauer

I’d add to to that…and thou shalt never, ever, ever raise a bystander. These ideas encompass a large portion of my beliefs and moral compass.  Never being a bully or a bystander is something I believe so wholly that I’d go so far as to call it my spirituality. And every day I try to pass those highest of values on to my child.

And if you have scrolled my blog at all, you know I’m also obsessed with children’s books. In addition to loving just the beauty of children’s books in general, I use books to help tackle almost every challenging topic that comes up with my child.

Add those two things together and you get this short list of books to read with your child. Here are a few that I cling to in this often difficult world:

click clack moo

Click, Clack, Moo – Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin

This is an excellent introduction to collective organization and the power of the “people” in a labor strike. A group of cows want better conditions in their barn and they stick together until the farmer agrees to their terms.






the peace book

The Peace Book by Todd Parr

I love this book because it makes us think about how we define peace in our own daily lives. Plus, I welcome the word “peace” appearing as much as possible in my child’s life. Keeping our eyes on that prize always.




amazing graceAmazing Grace by Mary Hoffman

I love this one for calling out gender in race in a way almost any child in a school setting has experienced already. Kids are constantly trying to piece it all together and confront gender and skin color candidly and unabashedly in their everyday conversations. I love the reinforcement that gender and race should never stop a person from achieving their dreams. When classmates tell Grace what she can and cannot be – she knows better and doesn’t let them stop her!



peoplePeople by Peter Spier

This a great worldview expanding book. It displays very different cultures and lifestyles right next to one another. My child can explore the pages of this one for over an hour and comes up with many questions for me about what he sees. One of the best conversation starting books we have.





iI am Martin Luther King Jr.I Am Martin Luther King Jr. by Brad Meltzer

We talk about Martin Luther King Jr. almost everyday at our house. Great for introducing the ideas of nonviolence, civil disobedience and working together in standing up for ourselves and others.




stand tall molly lou melonStand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell

This one is great for talking about bullying. Molly Lou Melon is an unconventional and fearless character and I think this is a great example of coming up with many possible solutions to a conflict. It also really humanizes everyone involved and I think that can be a helpful reminder in difficult situations.


each kindnessEach Kindness by Jaqueline Woodson

Each Kindness is a story of what it means to be a bystander and to deeply regret doing so. It’s a very important concept in our family and our community and try to show my child at every opportunity that we are not bystanders, we don’t hesitate to help and to stand up for others if they need us.




shades of peopleShades of People by Shelley Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly

This is one of the best books out there for talking about race. Kids naturally notice physical differences and if allowed will talk about it freely and openly. There is some research showing that in families where parents believe they can be “colorblind” and otherwise don’t talk about or acknowledge race, children grow up thinking their parents don’t like people of other races. This book can help start the conversation and show your child you see and accept all people.


the loraxThe Lorax by Dr. Seuss

This is an excellent introduction to environmentalism and how quickly a beautiful forest can be destroyed. The Lorax stick up for the natural world and “speaks for the trees.” I think it helps kids think our impact on the environment. It’s a story about respecting the Earth and what it means to speak up for it over and over if needed.




Share your favorites in the comments! ❤



turns to gold

I have a vision for my family. It includes lots of laughter, lots of listening hard and lots of understanding. It includes me showing up every day and not just for my kid – but for me, too – whether it is a day of laughter or a day of tears. The best part is – this dream is reality. I’ve been greedy in the past and wanted our family to include the 200+ people I would have called “friends” up until a few years ago. But I’ve been “lucky” to have been hit hard by life and know without a doubt that my “family” is a dozen people built of pure, solid gold. Thank you universe.

Intentions / January 2018


“It’s been a long year…And all this mess around me’s finally cleared…” Without further ado, here’s what I’ve been up to:

Eating / Lots of radishes + Miyokos cashew cheese.

Drinking / Ginko tea.

Practicing / The art of letter writing. I’m at level post-card right now.

Learning / To let go. Hoping to move one of these days soon.

Trying / To explain some decisions and reasons to my kid and to ask for his thoughts, too.

Playing / Guitar! Just picked up a hand-me-down one from a neighbor.

Loving / My kid as much as ever. And always, ALWAYS, trying to see other parent’s kids through those same mama lenses.

Reading, me / Riding With The Ghost and about Swedish “death” cleaning. (Not at morbid as they sound!)

Reading, kid / The Wind in the Willows. We can’t stop saying “onionsauce, onionsauce!!” all the time.

Anticipating / It feels colder in our house than outside right now! So I’m daydreaming about a summer of camping.

Baking / Cornbread. Then watching my kid promptly eat the WHOLE thing.

Working / Getting back to writing after a long while away.

Wanting / World peace forever.

What have you been up to???

Intentions / August 2017


Photo by Cathal Mac an Bheatha

Just over here trying to be alive while fielding the nightmare news every time I look online. Seems like humans are intent on destroying each other. I know I’m not powerless, but I feel like I can’t do enough unless I’m ready to put myself between any other person and whatever kind of weapon being pointed at them/me/us. Just here just trying to think of positive things for five minutes, deep breaths.

Eating / I’m healing an injury that can be helped by boosting protein intake. Finally found a protein powder that is not bad at all. I recommend the chocolate/peanut butter one.

Drinking / Keeping us very hydrated with homemade lemonade = lemon juice, water, pinch of salt and maple syrup.

Practicing / Pull-ups. I have one of these doorway bars and my kid and I both have fun with it.

Learning / A lot about the hearts of cities and a little about fly fishing.

Trying / To get back into writing these little, positive posts on here. For however far they can float me, even for just a second.

Playing / Trains, trains all the time. My kid keeps telling me I’m not playing right though, lol.

Loving / My kid. And always trying to see other parent’s kids through those same mama lenses.

Reading, me /About to pick up Super Better and Ditch the City from the library…

Reading, kid /…along with The Best Single Mom in the World!

Anticipating / The shortest, sweetest camping trip ever.

Cooking / A lot of padron peppers. But it’s late in the season so instead of about 10% being spicy it more like 100%!

Working / On my ceramics skills. So far I’ve got ashtrays down.

Wanting / Ten hours of sleep, ten nights in a row.

Just the two of us.


Photo by Leandro Cesar Santana

This cute little book I posted about last year has really had a long shelf-life around here. And it has been kicking around in my head a little extra lately. It paints such a lovely picture. And, obviously, leaves the hard parts out. It got me thinking, maybe I don’t leave the hard parts out…enough of the time. In my friendships, in my doula practice and in my nonprofit practice – one of my highest values is consistently being a tell-it-like-it-is, radically honest kind of person. Life is short, no need to waste any of it, right? It has worked well for me in general. It has pulled the right people into my life and it has helped the not-so-right people know they don’t belong with me.

But then I see a sweet book like that and I wonder if I’m taking long enough looks at the positive. I definitely use this blog space as a place to collect a positive outlook. But that doesn’t mean I’m always sitting on a lily pad in a sunshine rainbow beam over here. I’m often wondering if I’ve created the right life for my child, I’m often feeling bitter about how single moms are portrayed and reacted to, I’m often stressed out beyond belief at the end of the month when all the bills come due. I’m as fascinated by couples with children as these couples have at times been with me. How do they make it work? Do they fight or are do they feel incredibly supported in all things? Do they understand the silent privilege of not standing all alone in this job? Do they take turns sleeping in? Do they each get to “tap out” when they are at their wits end? What on earth is it like to have two incomes to work with? Or to have one parent staying at home? Or that person to vent to and kiss every night?

I can go on and on. These are things that cross my mind less and less as my child and my motherhood get older. It’s more curiosity than jealousy – except for the idea of sleeping in ;). It’s foreign to me. And sometimes I can’t look away. It’s fascinating.

I wish the gap between single and coupled parents could be bridged more often. It feels like an impossible thing sometimes. We are on opposite sides of an untouchable space and we are both slightly scared of each other. There, I said it. I’m also fascinated by the single parents who either sail through with ease – or hide how hard it is with ease. Still looking for that secret manual!

I will leave you with an essay I recently read, written by a single mom focusing on her special little relationship of two.

My Glory Was I Had Such Friends.

The title of Amy Silverstein’s memoir alone really grabbed me – I really relate to that statement. I’ve preached about the church of my good friends all over the world. I have had many occasions in my life to stop and realize, hey, I know a bunch of the best people in the world. How lucky is that? The author of this memoir is lucky the same way.

Books for single momsShe has friends she can joke around with. And they are the same friends who don’t expect this of her when she simply too exhausted by her heart condition to make another cute quip. They stay by her side when she has nothing to offer.

She has friends who send secret emails to each other about her – like a top secret help-our-friend-feel-better strategy team. Some of these emails details her hardest moments – with not a drop of irritation but with 2,000 gallons of let’s be there for her rallying cries.

She has friends who had a “light touch” when they were in their 20s – two decades later they now have the most profound relationships possible.

She has friends who take their friendships with her as a source of pride – people who are their best selves when they are paired with her. Friends who take pride in being a good friend to her.

She has friendships that have lasted through hard times, barely surviving but with a thin but constant thread of devotion to each other.

To quote a letter from one of her friends, written when odds were not in her favor…“You have lived a great life. It is in many ways heroic and historic. But while your disease has occupied so much of your time and energy, I don’t think of you as defined by it. I think of you as Amy, period: your sense of humor and irony; your creativity; your quick and distinct laugh; your generosity and friendship; your truth telling, even when it isn’t convenient.

You’ve touched so many people in ways you’ll never know. You’ve forced us to examine our lives and ask, What would we do if we were Amy? And I don’t mean if we faced your health issues: I mean, in our own lives, with our unique challenges: Why can’t we be more courageous? Why aren’t we more demanding and more direct? Why aren’t we more loving or more giving, in the face of struggle and pain?

I don’t know why. But I think about it a lot and I assure you, so do your family and friends.

You’ve lived a life that matters, one of great consequence. You’ve made people take notice. We are profoundly the better for it.”

I mean, who is cutting onions in here?! My allergies must be suddenly acting up…  Hell, I even want to be her friend now after reading this book! And I definitely want to write some love letter to my own friends.

I really enjoyed this book, the moments it gave me to reflect on my real, true friends and to ponder the kind of friendship I offer. Loved it from the title to the last word, a summer read of great consequence. But wait! There’s more! I just heard that there is going to be a movie version!


515KV8TLH4L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_I recently read the book How To Be Everything. While I think the subtitle should actually be something about being a single parent, it is actually “a guide for those who (still) don’t know what they want to be when they grow up.” If you are one of those people, I think you are in good company. It seems like working at one career path for 40 years has gone out of style. I’m glad it has become more socially acceptable to have several different careers over time, because it has definitely been my path. And even in the moments that I’ve had people try to shame me about it, I’ve known that being an idea person with many interests has been one of my greatest strengths. I started working full-time when I was fifteen years old. Twenty years and three careers later I find myself once again standing at the edge of yet another great adventure. And I’m way more excited than I am intimidated.

The book puts into words what I’ve worked out only intuitively. But it got me thinking about what my own process of starting big, new projects looks like. For me, it looks like scrap after scrap of paper – making the numbers work and defining the best pitch for each audience. Once I get it right, I start right in. And I keep checking my progress against my scraps of projections. It’s a loose process, I think keeping me from analysis paralysis, but it works for me. I better get back to it! I think I have an exciting several months ahead.


The Wisdom of Moms

Recently, I was sweetly gifted the new book The Wisdom of Moms by Bridget Hamilton. It’s small book written in partnership with photographers of National Geographic and is full of amazing photos of mama animals and their young along with facts about the mother/child bond and inspirational quotes. When it arrived in the mail, I couldn’t read it right away because my kid immediately latched onto it and paged through the photos over and over and over. I love that he loves it and I love it as a reminder that good mothering (among many other things) really is: grit, tenderness, guidance, compassion and dedication. Single mamas are covering those bases 24/7 so we should give ourselves a pat on the back.

Looking at this book reminded me of some of the other books on my child’s bookshelf that feature just moms and kids. Some of them by design and some of them just coincidentally. Some of our favorites are:

Just Me and My Mom

A day of adventures of a kid and his mom.

Love Is a Family

How one single mom explains what makes a family.

Hi, Cat

A kid’s adventures in the neighborhood and coming home to his mom.

You Are My I Love You

A sweet little board book with a great rhyme about how much a mom loves her kid.

Mommy Hugs

Similar to The Wisdom of Moms, this one shows paintings of animal mamas and babies and how they show their love for each other.

Hope any solo moms out there had a great Mother’s Day yesterday. But everyday is Mother’s Day when you are a single mom so have a good one today, too!