Introduction by Marika Lindholm
In her poem “The Twig and the Sparrow,” Cheryl Dumesnil writes,
Something amazing is about to happen.
Just wait. You’ll see.
This is precisely how I feel about Solo Mom Sessions. As the founder of ESME.com (Empowering Solo Moms Everywhere), I’m thrilled to bring together for Ninth Letter eight wonderful writers who do the difficult work of raising children on their own. While each writer draws on her unique experience, collectively the sessions speak for the solo moms of 22 million American children. Too often, single mothers are voiceless or misrepresented in a sea of stereotypes, accusations, and shame. Cheryl Dumesnil, Terri Linton, Georgia Pearle, Mila Jaroniec, Domenica Ruta, Melissa Stephenson, Rachel Webster, and Mika Yamamoto represent themselves with beauty and skill. Just as important, they give voice to the emotions, challenges, and triumphs of this diverse community. Together, these talented writers offer a poignant tribute to all Solo Moms who are unable to express the rewards and complexity of their journey.
Relentless responsibility, exhaustion, and the tragic realities of postpartum depression, domestic violence, addiction, poverty, and homelessness are woven into the words of Solo Mom Sessions. Yet each poem and essay transcends these struggles. From a young widow navigating her grief to a mom raising a son whose father is lost to addiction, these voices draw us in with confidence and grace. The feelings these writers express—yearning, melancholy, hope, strength, shame, regret, anomie, fear, ferocity, bravery, rebellion, anticipation, longing, rapture, and triumph—remind us that a solo mom’s journey is, by necessity, contradictory. Society undervalues them and offers them paltry support, yet due to their fierce love for their children, solo moms display bravery and strength, again and again.
Becoming a solo mom by choice or circumstance can’t help but shape a writer’s relationship to her craft. I’m thrilled that solo mom writers are beginning to be acknowledged for their unique literary contributions. For writers with children to support, writing is inherently risky and impractical. “Never being published, do you still write?” Mila Jaroniec asks. Although they are published writers, these intimate portrayals reveal that the answer for these solo moms is a resounding YES! For them, writing is as essential and instinctual as caring for their children, and we are the beneficiaries of their passion.
Dr. Marika Lindholm founded Esme.com to ignite a social movement of Solo Moms. A trained sociologist, Lindholm taught courses on inequality, diversity, and gender at Northwestern University for over a decade. After a divorce left her parenting two children on her own, she realized Solo Moms lacked much-need resources, support, and connection. She built her social platform, Empowering Solo Moms Everywhere, out of this combination of academic and personal experiences. In September 2019, She Writes Press will publish Hey Mama: Solo Mom Stories of Strength, Resilience, and Joy, an anthology of Solo Mom personal essays and poetry edited by Lindholm with Cheryl Dumesnil, Domenica Ruta, and Katherine Shonk. Marika can be reached at email@example.com.
intro image: “Abstract Mother and Child” by Frank Odei Amoani