Marika Lindholm is the founder of ESME, Empowering Solo Moms Everywhere, a confidential community of support and connection for Solo Moms.
We got to sit down with her and ask her a few questions about her involvement and creation of the platform.
What inspired you to create ESME, and why should our readers know about it?
ESME (Empowering Solo Moms Everywhere) is an online community dedicated to Solo Moms who by choice or circumstance parent primarily on their own. I founded ESME because, as a sociologist and former Solo Mom, I wanted to create a safe and supportive space for all the hardworking single moms who get up every day and care for approximately 22 million children. It’s a thankless job made even more challenging by “single mom” stereotypes aimed at moms who deserve to be honored instead of denigrated. At ESME, we are redefining single motherhood by using the term Solo Mom to describe women who are divorced, widowed, single by choice through adoption or donor, and moms who parent alone due to a partner’s deployment, incarceration or disability. ESME’s mission is to empower and connect Solo Moms in a confidential community of support and inspiration. Parenting alone is hard – we provide a place to turn in those difficult moments.
Why did you feel that a single mother support network was needed? What happens when these women have a strong community of support like ESME?
The fact is that every mom has the potential to become a Solo Mom due to death, divorce, abandonment and a host of other circumstances. At ESME we fight against the many myths and stereotypes about single mothers that are mean spirited and completely contrary to the facts. So for example, you might hear politicians or folks at a dinner party talk about single mothers implying that they are teenage moms on welfare with lots of babies that they can’t take care of. The reality is that most single moms are in their 30’s and 40’s, divorced, work over 30 hours a week and are raising just one child. The other tendency is to describe single moms as morally lax or lazy, which is ridiculous and cruel since day in and day out Solo Moms sacrifice their own needs, health and well-being for their children. Women don’t grow up wishing to be a single mom but millions of mothers at some point will parent alone. As a society we should be honoring their hard work and fierce desire to make a loving home for their children.
ESME is a community for Solo Moms by Solo Moms so the wisdom, information and support they receive is from other moms who “get it.” We’ve received so many emails from women who are grateful for the validation and support. Not only do we have over 5,000 resources but one can find 100’s of articles relevant to the Solo Mom experience on everything ranging from child custody to dating. Our Sister Chat is a place where you can turn to the community at any time to ask a question or get support. A strong community of support enables Solo Moms to get the information they need and focus on being the best moms they can be.
What do you consider to be one of the most important aspects of your work?
As a sociologist whose always been passionate about making connections and reducing the walls that divide us, it’s very gratifying to apply my sociological imagination and expertise to building a company dedicated to supporting women who parent alone. I’m always inspired by hardworking Solo Moms, who do so much for their children. It’s an amazing feeling every time a mom says that she was helped by ESME.
Can you describe one of your proudest moments since starting ESME?
I’m proud that I was able to transform a secret wish from the worst time in my life to a collaboration and passion project to make this the best time in my life. When I got divorced it was extremely challenging and it made me want to do something to reduce how alienating and lonely the journey could be. Now, years later, it’s obvious that our content is striking a chord and that Solo Moms are happy to have a site that is designed just for them. ESME’s team is mostly comprised of Solo Moms so its incredibly validating and exciting to know that each day we are all working on behalf of Solo Moms in so many ways. It’s never boring in our office because every day we hear from Solo Moms who persevere. I’m super proud of any small part I can play in making a Solo Mom feel more supported.
What are your hopes for the future of ESME?
Sister connections, submissions, questions and shout-outs are the heart of the site. Behind the scenes, Solo Mom writers, guides and staff are dedicated to providing a supportive, inspirational and informative safe space where Solo Moms can learn from each other, seek comfort and get help. My hope for the future of ESME is that we can continue to make ESME an organic expression of what Solo Moms need and want whether in a moment of crisis or when simply looking for a laugh. By supporting each other across social categories, circumstances and route to Solo Motherhood, we can begin to build a proud, strong movement of Solo Moms who will not be defined by labels and misconceptions. My dream is that one day that Solo Moms are empowered to become a political voice that can’t be ignored – a voice of compassion and tolerance.
Learn more about Empowering Solo Moms Everywhere here: esme.com