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Horton Hatches the Egg: A Great Book for Single Parents

Random House

I’m working on a piece for parenting.com on amazing books to read to your child when explaining the dynamics of modern families. It will cover things like divorce, single parenting, IVF/Donor Eggs, same sex parenting, choice motherhood, adoption and when a parent dies. Stay tuned for the link! Since this assignment required me to read a bunch of kid books, I took advantage of the situation and read out loud to JD (we are bookworms!). Last night we read Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss, which falls into the categories of single parenthood (when only one parent participates) and adoption. Boy, oh boy, did JD have questions.

For those of you who never read this book, it’s about a mama bird, Maysie who gets bored sitting on her egg, has second thoughts about parenthood and wants to party and enjoy the single life. This of course got me thinking about my situation and what it was like to be in a relationship, then single and 11-weeks-pregnant.

Maysie sighs, “If I could find someone [to sit on the egg], I’d fly away free.” After this sentence I explained to JD that the mama bird wasn’t sure if she wanted to be a mommy after all and he asked why. I told him sometimes people change their minds because they’re silly! “But who will take care of the baby birdie?” he asked.

When Horton the elephant came into the picture, JD grew very curious. I told him that Maysie was done hanging out with her egg, but the elephant was here to stay and take care of the egg until it hatched—“Into a little birdie!” JD exclaimed.

Horton sat and sat and the other animals made fun of him—an elephant sitting in a tree on an egg is pretty silly, even JD agreed. But, Horton, like a lot of single moms going through their pregnancies alone promised himself and the egg that he would prevail—even in the rain or snow (this reminded me of packing up my NYC apartment at 7-months-pregnant when it was 90 degrees out and moving back to NJ to a small one-bedroom apartment. I prevailed—it was hard and sad, but I was so excited for my little egg to hatch.)

One day, a few hunters catch a glimpse of Horton and sell him to a traveling circus—egg and tree, too! People pay money to gawk at Horton, but he doesn’t care. Soon, the circus ends up in sunny Palm Beach where mama bird, Maysie happens to be relaxing and enjoying her new, child-free life (la-la-la!). She can’t believe her eyes when she sees Horton and the egg and what do you know—now she wants the egg back. After all, it’s ready to hatch—all the work is done! Maysie is all ready to fly away with it, when crack, it hatches into an elephant-bird—an elephant-bird! The tiny creature doesn’t want Maysie—she wants Horton, the parent that didn’t leave—the one that stuck around even though it was hard. Horton and the elephant-bird lived happily ever after, enjoying their modern family!

Because we shape our families and parenting has more to do with love, respect and presence, than biology. Take it from Horton—and that Maysie character. 

“That animal loves Horton, mommy!” JD said. “But where is Maysie going?”

“Yes and why is that?” I asked.

“He’s the mommy!” JD said.

“Right,” I said. “Maysie is going away to party and enjoy the single life. It’s what she wants.”

I hope all of my single parent readers doing it alone will invest in this book and share it with their children. Trust me.

Do you read special books to your child to explain your family? Please share.

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