In honor of mother's day, I thought that I would write about Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace, by Ayelet Waldman.
I was in Miami on a girls' weekend when I began. At first, I didn't want to start something "too heavy." The point of my vacation was to escape from motherhood.
Though I wanted to run away from the book, upon reading the introduction, I was hooked. Waldman (vilified for suggesting she loved her husband more than her four children) writes about what many mothers think but only say out loud after a couple of margaritas or Chardonnays (depending upon your poison). She claims the title of Bad Mother, but quite frankly, who among us hasn't defined ourselves that way at some point in this parenting experience?
While the entire book consists of personal essays, the introduction initiates a more political dialogue: Why is it that we as women are so quick to label or judge a "bad mother"? Is it easier than acknowledging our own faults - or is it a system that holds good motherhood and good fatherhood up to two completely different (and with respect to motherhood (completely unattainable) standards?
I am by no means a book critic; I am a sex educator. But I am pleased to say that I loved this book. Sure, writing about yourself and your family sometimes seems self aggrandizing, but I never felt like Waldman was writing gratuitously. (Though that's probably my own bias - I do the same thing.) As a storyteller, Waldman is raw and candid. She writes of her irrational (and sometimes legitimate) fears. She reveals a personal challenge with one of her pregnancies. She speaks of bipolar disorder, love, sex, and all the challenges that stem from parenting liberally in a less than liberal world. And last, she speaks of how mothers attempt to manage all of the chaos with chaos. Because as we all know, motherhood is hardly graceful, no matter how hard we try to pull it off.