Become an Insider           Login
Not an Insider Yet?

We no longer offer memberships.
Existing Insider Members may still login (right) and receive their benefits. Stay tuned for some major changes.

Reset Password - Forgot My Username

Remember me

Most Read Interviews

All TopShelf Interviews


1. Please introduce yourself.

I’m Marika Lindholm, the founder of ESME (Empowering Solo Moms Everywhere) and co-editor of the new book We Got This: Solo Moms Stories of Grit, Heart, and Humor.

2. Please tell us a little about We Got This.

We Got This is a collection of essays and poems by moms who co-parent or parent alone. Well-known writers such as Mary Karr, Anne Lamott, Audre Lorde, and Amy Poehler share their solo mom stories together with up-and-coming writers. By including a diversity of moms who represent different paths to solo motherhood, we are giving voice to moms who often get left out of mainstream discussions of motherhood.

3. What exactly is ESME?

parenting alone, whether by choice or circumstance. Our website, app, and social media offer information, resources, and—most importantly—a place to connect with other solo moms for advice and community. Our 80 local Facebook groups and ESME chatroom ensure that any mom who reaches out to us will find someone to listen and talk to any time of day or night.

4. As a successful professor, and having gone through a period of being a single mom, why was it important for you to start ESME?

I was teaching at Northwestern University when my divorce left me solo parenting a three- and five-year-old. Although I had medical coverage, a good job, and a support network, it was an extremely hard time for me. As I coped with a shift in identity, new challenges, and stress, I thought about all the women going through this who were not as fortunate. Lying awake each night, worrying about my kids and feeling very alone, I vowed to myself to make it easier on other solo moms if I ever had the opportunity. It’s been incredibly fulfilling to know that ESME is there to make the challenge of solo motherhood just a little bit easier.

5. How can readers learn more about ESME?

Join us at ESME.com, and check out our hundreds of articles, more than 5,000 resources, and if you are a solo mom, join Sister Chat to meet other moms on similar journeys. We can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

6. Why was it important for you to write We Got This?

When I went through my divorce and began my solo parenting journey, I read loads of how-to books filled with advice and strategies, but what I really needed was a book that spoke to my heart and showed me that I wasn’t alone. We Got This is the book I craved back then. By showcasing a community of solo mom voices, we celebrate a solo mom’s resilience and strength but also wrap our arms around her as she copes with the hard stuff.

7. What do you hope readers will learn from this book?

Regardless of why or how one becomes a solo mom—whether due to a partner’s deployment, incarceration, or numerous circumstances, we show that solo moms in all their beautiful diversity should be heard and honored. I hope that readers will gain respect and empathy for these amazing moms. The common thread that runs through all the stories is a solo mom’s fierce love for her children. Our book says to solo moms, “We see you, and you are incredible!”

8. Do you have a favorite We Got This story and why?

That’s an unfair question! It’s like asking which kid is your favorite. But there are a few that strike me as particularly unique. For example, Robin Rogers offers a heart-wrenching essay about losing a spouse to mental illness, while Angela Ricketts shares the story of her middle-of-the-night heart attack while her husband was deployed. Evie Peck gives us a hilarious blow-by-blow account of sexting while being snack mom at her son’s soccer game. And Staceyann Chin’s story, “Coming Out Pregnant!,” is a humorous look at her neighbors’ confusion over a pregnant lesbian.

9. What is the significance of your chapter titles being song titles?

Music is highly evocative and can summon a particular feeling faster than words. Using song titles for each chapter was our way of setting a recognizable mood to each chapter’s theme. For example, we conclude the book with “Here Comes the Sun,” making clear the books ends on a positive note. On the way, a reader can pick and choose to read “Good Morning Heartache” for a good cry, “Isn’t it Romantic?” for dating stories, or “The Kids Are Alright,” which needs no explanation.

10. There are four editors on this anthology. How did that work? Did you know them before the collaboration? Have they all been single moms?

Three out of the four of us had been single moms. Collaborating with Cheryl Dumesnil, Domenica Ruta, and Katherine Shonk was joyful and rewarding—truly a dream team. Over a span of four years, we connected over Google Hangouts from New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and my home, the Hudson Valley. We all knew one another through ESME, but now we are connected for life. I have tremendous love and gratitude for all of them.

11. Is this book geared toward single moms only, or will it strike a chord with most readers? 

We were very focused on creating this book for solo moms, such that every entry is short, the kind of book that is easy to pick up and put down, a book a solo mom can grab when she finds a few minutes to herself.  We aimed for emotional honesty and respect for our solo mom audience; however, now we’ve come to understand that these candid and powerful stories hold meaning and significance that transcend the solo mom community. Anyone with a heartbeat can relate to the pain and joy expressed in the book. Regardless of identity and individual circumstances, readers identify with and are moved by the myriad challenges and triumphs expressed by these talented writers. So far, feedback has been overwhelmingly positive!  

12. How did you find the single moms whose stories are in this book?

I was fortunate. Because of ESME, I could tap into a network of solo mom writers. The stories are a mix of original content by promising writers and excerpted content by well-known writers. Cheryl, our resident poet, was the guiding force behind the incredible selection of poetry; and Katie and Domenica, as well-established authors, provided important connections to contributors. In fact, our challenge was to sift and sort thorough a treasure trove of work to ensure that a variety of circumstances and diversity of identities were represented. As a sociologist, this push for true representation was always first and foremost in my approach to curating the anthology. 

13. Do you have any advice for a new single mom?

I wish I’d been better at self-care and self-love. They really are one in the same and key to being the best mom you can be. A mom who is plagued by guilt and doubt and who is not taking care of herself will have a much harder time. Make sure you do something for yourself amid the hustle of taking care of your kids—even if it’s just lying on the floor and taking deep breaths! Asking for and accepting help is self-care. Regardless of the situation, move forward, love yourself, and know you are doing the best you can—it will get easier! 

14. What’s the easiest way for people on social media to interact with you?

You can find us online via the following:

15. Are you currently working on any other projects?

I’m working on We Got This, Too, which focuses on exemplary children of solo moms such as famous actors, athletes, artists, scientists, and even presidents. I also envision another solo mom anthology that focuses on solo moms as they partner and coparent. Too often we think of remarriage as the happy ending, when in reality it can be very challenging and complicated. I think it would be useful for those stories to be told as well. 

16. If a library or bookstore would like to request an appearance or signing by you, what would be the best way to schedule that?

I’m easy to find! Either write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and I’d be happy to discuss an event or book-club appearance. Our events have been very well received because we usually have five to seven contributors read their essays or poems, making for a very powerful and memorable couple of hours! You can learn more at wegotthisbook.com.

17. What is one question you wish people would ask but never do?

I often get asked about the negatives of being a solo mom, but I wish people would ask me more about the positive truths associated with the solo mom community. I discovered that solo moms are incredibly generous, even when they themselves are struggling. I’ve seen countless   examples of solo moms offering help, money, or time when they learn of another solo mom in need. Whether it’s babysitting help, donating clothes and toys, or just taking time to share their experience—moms parenting alone are kind, unselfish, and magnanimous. It’s one of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned in my many years of work as a solo mom ally.