A memoir of marriage, divorce, and single motherhood.
Lillibridge (Girlish, 2018) recounts, in often funny and sometimes-wrenching detail, the story of her second marriage. (Her first, disastrous marriage is only sketchily mentioned throughout.) She also remembers the birth of her two sons, here nicknamed “Big Pants” and “Tiny Pants,”; the first stirrings of her desire to write; and the life lessons she slowly accumulated by being a single mother, sharing custody. The chapters are interspersed with shorter but similarly themed blog posts and recipes that impart simple, useful information to other single parents with wry, quippy humor. In her description of preparing Lean Cuisine Swedish meatballs, for instance, Step 3 is: “Stab package several times with sharp knife (or the scissors on your desk if you are at work) to vent the package and relieve some of your latent rage. If you do not have any latent rage you probably won't relate to anything in this book and might as well stop reading now.” Parenting pointers are likewise phrased with a dark humor that’s reminiscent of Erma Bombeck’s work: “Lock the children in the closet until you are finished cleaning, or their eighteenth birthday, whichever comes last.” Lillibridge skillfully interweaves these deadpan bits with often searingly honest reflections on her own shortcomings during her marriage; her depiction of the slow, undramatic dissolution of a relationship is one of the most moving sections, with the author rationalizing a bad situation until she simply can’t anymore. Single parents, in particular, will find this book’s combination of humor and heartbreak to be irresistible.
A frank and valuable remembrance, and a good coping manual for parents.