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Escape Points: a Memoir of Parenthood, Wrestling and Cancer

Courtesy of Michele Weldon
Michele Weldon addresses a lecture hall during a Ted Talks lecture.

Michele Weldon is a survivor. She’s raised three kids as a single mother after ending an abusive marriage and has written about her story in her new memoir “Escape Points: A Memoir.”

“I was married, unfortunately, to a charming handsome attorney who was physically abusive about once a year. I kept that secret from my family and my friends, but not from my therapist," she explains. "I ended that marriage in 1995 and wanted to write about the truth and the myths that we have surrounding domestic violence – that it doesn’t happen to smart, educated women.”

During this Talk of Iowa interview, host Charity Nebbe talks with Weldon about becoming a single parent and a wrestling mom.  

On being a single mother:

“I found that the narrative of my life did not fit the public narratives that we hear about mothers. I think there are really four key narratives about mothers. One is the utopian mother who can have it all, and good for her, but that happens to be a women who is on the elitest end of the spectrum who has a full time partner who contributes economically. Then there is also the narrative of the completely dysfunctional mother, like the early housewives on T.V. Then there is the incredible heroic mother who overcomes enormous odds and poverty, and that wasn’t me. My struggles were more every day, so I found that I didn’t see myself anywhere, so it was important to tell a different story of a parent who can succeed with many others including unlikely allies.”

On being diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer:

“What if… what if this doesn’t go well? What will happen to my sons? Who will be responsible for them? I was feeling so fragile, and so helpless. I always feel that I can work really hard and make something happen, and this was something I had no control of.”

On attending wrestling meets to watch her sons compete:

“Even if they only acknowledged me with a chin tuck, I really feel that it mattered that I was there. It mattered that I watched them, that I put my time into something that was so important to them, and they gathered to them a sense of individual prowess and athleticism, but also an accountability to something greater than what they are – to the team, to the community. They learned what it means to keep getting up, to escape a hold. You know, ‘how do you plot your escape to something better.’”

On her sons reading the book:

“I feel like my sons are really good men. They are different people and have different approaches to life, but I do take a lot of comfort in who each one of them is. That feels good, and that gives me a lot of solace and reward. That’s what every parent wishes for, no matter what the path is and what the detours are. You hope you eventually reach a point and can say “it’s okay.” I gave them all copies of the book while it was still in manuscript form, and yeah, they each have a different reaction to it. There’s pride, a little bit of embarrassment, but I was really careful not to trample any boundaries and to write from my point of view.”

Lindsey Moon is IPR's Senior Digital Producer
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa