If you’re becoming a mother, and this means YOU to my sisters, you’ll find a copy of this book tucked into your hospital bag.
I have felt very close to this book for a very long time, way before I even read the book and discovered that it’s fantastic. I am friends with the editor, Avital, as well as contributors, Kimberly, Tara, and Sarah. And I met a few more of them when I photographed the local book release party. I also photographed Avital (Avi to me) for the book itself, which was a lovely honor.
I have to somewhat obnoxiously admit something right off the bat and somewhat early in the post, that I haven’t struggled much with “The Mommy Wars”. I don’t know that my personality really has room for it. Since marriage and children, I quite honestly don’t mind what other people do with their parenting (unless I somehow need to) and I also don’t dwell on what people think of my parenting. I am non-confrontational and I am friendly. I like nearly everyone, until you say or do something hateful and/or intolerant and/or offensive, and that might change things for me. Only might. However, I know what it’s like to fall short of my own parenting ideals and visions. And the way they change after we finally meet these tiny people who have our hearts.
I knew I would love this book, but I wasn’t expecting just how much it would shake my core and then lift me up – to hear the stories of many imperfectly wonderful mothers who are chiming in together with their tales of setbacks and disasters, downfalls and insecurities, and innermost thoughts on mothering in physical and emotional places that aren’t always as supportive and encouraging as they could be. As they should be. (I received a copy of this book for review, and because I really wanted it.)
—The Washington Post
“Debunking the myth of the ‘good’ mother one beautiful, touching essay at a time. A perfect collection for all of us interested in being the best parents we can be.”
—Mayim Bialik, actress, neuroscientist, and author of Beyond the Sling
I don’t cook and clean very well. I am terrible at crafts and I love Pinterest mostly for the photography, and cookie recipes that I just send to my husband. I don’t seem to have a diligent bone in my body, or at least a very patient once. Long before kids, I was questioning whether I’d be a good wife. When the kids came, it wasn’t those domestic things that made me question my ability to be a “good” mother. It was anxiety. It was about a year into parenting that it arrived, after being dormant for a long time.
And here is where I question my ability to be a mother, aside from the occasional TV binges and ice cream for dinner nights. It’s anxiety. It’s feeling isolated or shaky when my kids need me, or just the fear that it will be so. Generally it’s ok and I can be there for them. We all have moments or days (or longer) in which we struggle and need the help of partners/friends/loved ones.
I’m learning that’s ok. More than ok. There are as many ways to parent, as there are parents. And most of us are doing the best we can with what we have. I am impatient and I have a tendency towards situational anxiety. Everybody’s got their something.
Every story here is unique, and each one touched me in a different way. In fact, I started making notes about which chapters I wanted to highlight, and I found something in EVERY SINGLE STORY that I found relevant to my own journey. Editor Avi’s story was about her son making a birthday wish about being a big brother, a wish she was sad was most likely wasted. I do have two kids, but for a long time, I was set on having one. And there is nothing selfish about finding happiness as a family of three.
Tara Jean Bernier’s poem in the book, “Give Me My ‘A’ In Scarlet”, amazes me each time I read it, and I was lucky to hear it spoken live. Twice.
I was also lucky enough to hear Joy Ladin read from her story, “Confessions of a Born-Bad Mother” and I didn’t hear Kimberly Morand read “Failure To Launch” aloud, but I somehow feel like I have. I read it very early on.
Nerissa Nields is a gifted writer and singer-songwriter, and she played beautiful music at the release party with her sister:
Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser read powerfully from “The Adoption Aisle”.
Stephanie Kaloi’s story, “My Little Early Perfect” had her questioning whether she had done something to trigger her son’s early birth/NICU stay, and she wrote about the back and forth driving, breast pumping dance you do when your child is in the NICU.
“Mama Don’t Cook” by Carla Naumberg made me crack up, especially when she described making quesadillas and apple slices as a dinner at her house. Same exact dinner here! I’m actually quite impressed when I pull that off.
Aly Windsor’s “An Existential Crisis Is Born” made me gasp, because she described so well what happened to me when Scarlet was born. It wasn’t right away but after about two months or so, I became obsessed with death.
I could write for another 3,000 words about every chapter in this book, but I implore you to discover its wonder on your own.
From the Publisher:
As a society, we are obsessed with the notion of what it means to be a “good” mother. In an era of mommy blogs, Pinterest, and Facebook, manufactured “mommy wars” divide women and pit mothers against each other. Edited by Avital Norman Nathman—a widely published writer and blogger—The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality (Seal Press / January 2014 / $16.00) dismantles this media-fed fairytale by taking a realistic look at motherhood and providing a platform for diverse voices and raw stories. This collection of 35 candid and unapologetic essays adds a depth to the narrative of motherhood we don’t tend to see in the headlines.
With a foreword by Christy Turlington Burns—the founder of Every Mother Counts—and a contributor list that includes Jessica Valenti, KJ Dell’Antonia, Sharon Lerner, Soraya Chemaly, Amber Dusick, and many more, The Good Mother Myth reflects on stereotypes and expectations and offers some truth about what it means to be a mother today.
From professors to porn directors and musicians to massage therapists, this diverse group of women writers—some well-known and some up-and-coming— delivers a wide range of experiences and reflections. The contributors of The Good Mother Myth hold nothing back, sharing tales of mind-bending, panic-inducing overwhelm; stories of surprise pregnancies; and even confessions of using weed instead of wine to deal with the terrible twos. The honesty of the essays creates a community of mothers who refuse to feel like they’re in competition with others, or with the notion of the ideal mom—they’re just trying to find a way to make it work. Beautiful and funny, messy and heartbreaking, this compelling collection establishes new definitions of modern motherhood.