Joy Thomas Moore’s second marriage ended with the sudden death of her husband, and she brought up three children alone. It wasn’t a cakewalk. Her son, Wes Moore, New York Times best-selling author of The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates and The Work: Searching for a Life That Matters, has conceded he wasn’t always an easy kid to raise. He’s also shared the No. 1 key to his success: his Solo Mom. In 2018, Joy came out with a book of her own—The Power of Presence—which she describes as “part memoir, part self-help, part inspirational . . . a love letter to single moms.”
The book came about because Joy would often be asked how she raised her kids while balancing a career and staying healthy herself. And as her son’s book gained traction, increasingly people wanted to know about the Solo Mom behind the accomplished young man. Joy eventually acquiesced to the call for a book of her own, spending five years compiling her personal stories, as well as those of 15 other women.
The Power of Presence details seven pillars of “presence”—heart, faith, mind, courage, financial freedom, values, and connectedness—that Joy believes help parents remain a vital force in a child’s life, even when the parent can’t be physically present. The book, which hit shelves in 2018, covers a lot of ground, from sharing practical advice on savings accounts to discussing mindfulness. But Joy is quick to point out that she is not a parenting guru. “I didn’t want to present myself as an expert because I wasn’t,” Moore has said. “I was an experimenter along the way.”
A primary aim in writing the book was in fact to give Solo Moms an opportunity to shape the conversation about single parenting—not just be the subject of it. “What I wanted to really show . . . is that part of the problem is that single moms are never really included in the conversation on what to do,” she shared on University of Arizona Little Rock (UALR) Television. “[O]nce we include them in a conversation, we will find solutions to some of the thorny problems that we deal with. Because once families are strong, communities will be strong.”
For the Peabody Award winner and president and CEO of JWS Media Consulting, part of that conversation involves exploding popular myths about Solo Moms. In a bullet-point essay published by the African American Literature Book Club, Moore uses facts to knock down old stereotypes, pointing out that “[t]here is a notable rise in babies born to single moms by choice—with the moms trending older, more educated, and having high income.”
Bottom line, Moore believes in the power of hope. As she told UALR, “[A] lot of it is hope. You know, you hope, as a parent, that things can get better. And you can then pass on that hope to your child.”
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