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Accidental Mom


Photograph by Diablo Imaging

Mary F. Pols gives away the plot—and the happy ending—in the title of her memoir, Accidentally on Purpose: A One-Night Stand, My Unplanned Parenthood, and Loving the Best Mistake I Ever Made.

But, that doesn’t take any of the pleasure out of this 288-page adventure that starts at a friend’s family-filled 40th birthday party where the damp San Francisco wind whispers “spinster” in Pols’s 39-year-old ear.

On the next page, the Alameda writer and former Contra Costa Times film critic hooks up with a young handsome stranger. Which, of course, means she’ll soon be searching for an at-home pregnancy test to confirm her worst fear and her heart’s delight.

Drama ensues as she tries to figure out how to support the child she’s longed for on a journalist’s salary and how to tell her elderly Catholic father, “the Grinch,” the news. Pols’s baby daddy favors having the child but not a wedding.

Pols’s yarn includes vivid characters, like a fellow she dated who sucked his thumb. But, the most memorable is her wise old father, a philosophy professor, who comes to support her decision, telling her, “This is a wonderful thing you are doing. There’s nothing better I’ve done with my own life than to have you.”

Amid joy and heartbreak, Pols grows from a self-absorbed and judgmental whiner into a self-aware adult and loving mother. It’s her transformation that makes this memoir an unforgettable read.

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