Motherhood is experienced in diverse ways. And what better way to convey this than sharing stories? I know so many mothers with interesting tales to tell. Neil Gaiman opens his poem “Locks” (2006) by stating that “We owe it to each other to tell stories.
” Here are some books in which mothers tell their stories to highlight their unique experiences of motherhood—stories to encourage and inspire, challenge and provoke thought, or simply make us laugh.
The M Word: conversations about motherhood edited by Kerry Clare
“In this original and sometimes provocative collection of essays, Saleema Nawaz, Alison Pick, Nancy Jo Cullen, Carrie Snyder, and many others explore the boundaries of contemporary motherhood. There are the women who have had too many children or not enough. There are women for whom motherhood is a fork in the road, encountered with contradictory emotions. And there are those who have made the conscious choice not to have children and then find themselves defined by that decision. Here some of Canada’s best writers face down motherhood from the other side of the picket fence. The M Word. It means something to every woman. Exactly what it means is rarely simple.” publisher
Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos
“Writer and star of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Nia Vardalos firmly believed she was supposed to be a mom, but Mother Nature and modern medicine had put her in a headlock. So she made a choice that shocked friends, family, and even herself: with only fourteen hours’ notice, she adopted a preschooler. Instant Mom is Vardalos’s poignant and hilarious true chronicle of trying to become a mother while fielding nosy “frenemies” and Hollywood reporters asking, “Any baby news?” With genuine and frank honesty, she describes how she and husband Ian Gomez eventually found their daughter… and what happened next.” publisher
“Women are regularly told that having children will hurt their careers—until now. In The MomShift, Reva Seth talked to over 500 mothers from a broad range of professional and personal backgrounds who have defied cultural expectations and achieved greater professional success after starting their families. For these women and others like them, having children actually enhanced their work life: by helping them prioritize and set bigger goals, inspiring them to work harder and smarter or even spurring them to start their own businesses. As Rebecca Woolf—of Girl’s Gone Child blog fame—puts it, ‘Motivation, thy name is parenthood.’” publisher
Not the Whole Story: challenging the single mother narrative edited by Lea Caragata and Judit Alcalde
“Not the Whole Story is a compilation of sixteen stories narrated by single mothers in their own way and about their own lives. Each story is unique, but the same issues appear again and again. Abuse, parenting as single mothers, challenges in the labour market, mental health and addictions issues, a scarcity of quality childcare, immigration and status vulnerability, struggles with custody, and poverty—these factors, combined with a lack of support, contribute to their continued struggles. The themes that recur across stories illustrate that the issues the women face are not just about individual struggle; they demonstrate that major issues in Canada’s social system have been neglected in public policy. In order for these issues to be addressed we need to challenge the flawed public policies and the negative discourse that continue to marginalize single mothers—in terms of the opportunities in their own lives and in terms of how they are understood by other Canadians.” publisher
Ketchup is a Vegetable: and other lies moms tell themselves by Robin O’Bryant
“If you don’t have anything nice to say about motherhood, then… read this book. Robin O’Bryant offers a no holds barred look at the day to day life of being a mother to three, running a household and the everyday monotony of parenting. It’s not always pretty but it’s real. Whether she’s stuffing cabbage in her bra… dealing with defiant yet determined daughters… yelling at the F.B.I… or explaining the birds and the bees to her preschooler… you’re sure to find dozens of humorous and relatable situations. From the creator of Robin’s Chicks, one of the South’s most popular blogs on motherhood, misunderstandings and musings, comes a collection of essays that will not only make you laugh and cry, but realize that you’re not alone in your journey.” publisher
The Spark: a mother’s story of nurturing genius by Kristine Barnett
“The extraordinary memoir of a mother’s love, commitment and nurturing, which allowed her son, originally diagnosed with severe autism, to flourish into a universally recognized genius—and how any parent can help their child find their spark. Today, at 13, Jacob is a paid researcher in quantum physics, working on extending Einstein’s theory of relativity. Diagnosed at 1 with severe autism, at 3 he was assigned to life-skills classes and his parents were told to adjust their expectations. The goal: tying his own shoes at 16. Kristine’s belief in the power of hope and the dazzling possibilities that can occur when we keep our minds open and learn to fuel a child’s true potential changed everything.” publisher
Happy Mother’s Day and happy reading!