Emma Johnson Wants Us to Kick Ass


Emma Johnson Wants Us to Kick Ass

Image credit: TarcherPerigee

ESME’s Anna Stewart reviews The Kickass Single Mom: Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest You, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children

Solo Moms can have it all: a lucrative career, a hot lover, a great house, vacations, and fabulous kids. We just have to make some adjustments and bam(!), we can have a great life. We can, right?

If you follow Emma Johnson’s advice, the creator of WealthySingleMommy.com, we have to be ready to be financially secure through our own great careers, since we know 50% of marriages end in divorce and we therefore could become single moms. We may have to downsize, shift our attitudes, and build a business, but we can do it, not just because we have to but also because we want to.

Emma—since she reveals so much about her personal life, I think I can call her that—lays out a plan so that a newly single mom doesn’t live up to the stereotypical single, desperate, depressed, and harried woman. She has a Kickass Single Mom Manifesto that starts with believing you can have a career and be a great mom at the same time, that you never play victim, and that you will put your self-care first, and ends with knowing “I am capable of so much more than I limit myself. I open myself up to the amazing and impossible.”

Great stuff, right?

Emma is an informed, passionate, successful woman who seems to have figured out how to make a million and still have time for a European lover.

I don’t want to edit her or her work. If her Kickass Manifesto works to get a fortysomething college-educated mom who is raising two kids with full schedules and reeling from a hard divorce from her CEO husband to dry her eyes and go out and be all she can be, I am going to cheer her on, “Go, kickass girlfriend!” But her audience is professional women, who have had access to education and lots of opportunities, who need a kick in the proverbial pants to let go of who they were and build a new life. She doesn’t really talk about women who have other factors to contend with, such as children with disabilities who have expensive, time-consuming needs; discrimination; incarceration, substance abuse; parents to care for; military-family issues; poverty; homelessness; their own mental health issues; or other barriers to living an independent, sexy, happy, fabulous life.

When she writes about readjusting your life, she says, “Downsizing your home, buying a car you can afford, and getting rid of the heaps and heaps of stuff that likely crowd our closets, basement, and garage (which, according to federal statistics, is likely to be too crowded to park your ride inside!) will change your life.” Kinda leaves out those of us without heaps of stuff, basements, garages, cars to park in those garages, and homes. And she has a point.

Most of us, and especially those of us who gave up a career to be home with our kids, are going to be Solo Moms and have to scramble like hell to create a new life. Our new lives can be better, and Emma has some great advice for how to create a good life.

On dating: “There is nothing shameful about a mother dating. You are an adult woman with romantic, emotional, social, and sexual needs. Embracing this fact is great for you and great for your kids.”

On money: “You cannot live your full potential as a mother or person if you choose to be financially dependent on anyone else, much less a man with whom you are no longer romantically entangled.”

On parenting: “Family is indeed what you make it, and you can create that warm, secure, and loving home life that is the springboard for a healthy child, regardless of what your family looks like.”

That’s good advice no matter where we start on our Solo Mom journey.

I recently shared an ESME post with a friend who is in the midst of a divorce. In her reply to me, she said she had not thought of herself as a Solo Mom before then, and she wasn’t sure how to describe herself. That really is the starting place, isn’t it? How do we define ourselves, whether we are in the midst of a divorce, a Solo Mom by choice, or breaking off a long-term relationship? Emma uses the term single mom because it is easy and discreet.

Emma also writes that many of the other terms, such as divorced mom or single mom by choice, may reveal more than we want to share with the world. She acknowledges that the term single mom still has negative connotations (think being responsible for fatherless criminals or being brave and strong after being abandoned by a deadbeat dad).

Perhaps the term we use to identify ourselves is one that evolves over time as we heal from the trauma of divorce, learn to handle things we never thought we would (see “Chop Roots, Carry Rocks: Taking Over What Your Ex Used to Do”), or swallow our pain and learn to coparent our kids. The first year after my divorce I was a whirlwind of identities crashing into one another—I was alone, relieved, freaked out, scared, hopeful, and mostly just a woman trying to make it through the day. Now that I have done much of what Emma suggests, I am a balanced, happy, secure Solo Mom. And yesterday I cleaned out my closet, which always makes me feel better.

Borrow or buy The Kickass Single Mom, or check out Emma’s website and be open to the idea that you can be financially independent, discover your sexiest self, and raise fabulous, happy children. Our lives aren’t perfect, but they are ours. Let’s kick ass, my friends!

Whether you call yourself a single mom or a Solo Mom, ESME offers support, connection, and wisdom. Join us, and see if our community is right for you.


Anna Stewart is ESME’s Kids with Special Needs Resource Guide and the Solo Mom of a daughter and two sons on the brink of adulthood. She’s a champion for the rights of people living with disabilities and those who love them.

Please feel free to contact us with any comments or questions.


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