An Accidental Mother is a memoir by Katherine (Kate) Kindred about becoming a mother, unexpectedly, in her 40s. Kindred, a divorced woman without kids, meets and falls in love with a man named Jim at age 40. Jim has two kids – a two year-old boy whom he didn't even know about until the boy's mother was deemed unfit to parent, and a younger daughter (with an ex-wife). Jim takes on full custody of his son, Michael, and shares custody of his daughter Elizabeth with his ex. When he gets involved with Kindred, he and Michael move into her house, and she quickly learns how, and what it takes, to be a mother.
An Accidental Mother is about Kindred's love for Michael and their lives together over the next 6 years, until he is 8. Kate falls in love with Michael, and the two bond deeply and strongly. She is, for all intents and purposes, his mother, as evidenced by the cards and letters he writes her every year on Mother's Day. She even asks Jim if she can adopt Michael, but Jim stalls, citing the stress he is under from the custody fight with Elizabeth's mother.
I especially liked the short vignette chapters interspersed throughout the book, where Kindred would share short, funny/poignant memories about Michael and Elizabeth. They reminded me of the things I write on my own blog about my kids - little sayings, events, and observations that are easy to forget in the big picture but which collectively provide a wonderful snapshot of living with kids.
An Accidental Mother has a very sad ending. Jim and Kindred break up, and Jim refuses to let Kindred spend time with Michael. She doesn't delve deeply into the reasons for it, nor does she unduly bash Jim in the book (as well she could). Instead, she simply discusses her sadness over losing Michael. The book clearly serves two purposes – it's a therapuetic expression of her grief, and it's also a letter to Michael, one that she must hope that he will read when he is older so that he can understand why she disappeared from his life.
An Accidental Mother is a short read. It's heartbreaking and compelling and worth the few hours it took to get through.
Thank you to Unbridled Books for the review copy.