Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Mammy Diaries review

Mammy Diaries, by Maria Moulton, is finally out!

Maria sweetly sent me a review copy, and here's what I think.

It’s great to see The Mammy Diaries finally out on the shelf. I remember years ago on Rollercoaster, seeing Maria’s questions pop up. I was excited to get my hands on it and see what it was like after that long gestation :)

To a certain extent, I am not this book’s target audience, so I’m not so sure how useful a review by me is. Two reasons – the first is that I wanted a homebirth from the word go, and I ate up every book on the subject I could, politics, physiology of birth, all of it. From that perspective, some of the early comments in the book come from a different place than I did, and, as such, they weren’t voices I related to. I do know plenty of people approach pregnancy on a need-to-know basis, and they would get more from it than I. The second reason is that I was never anyone’s Mammy or Mam, and the book title totally alienates me. But I know I’m in the minority, and I hope it has the opposite effect on everyone else.

My one other complaint is that the self-published as the book is, I think it could do with a rigorous edit – a few glitches caught my eye, the exclamation marks need culling, and I found it a little hard to determine the switches between the voices of the mothers and the author.

However, aside from those criticisms, I think the book is great – it’s humorous, real and practical and gives voice to all sorts of mothers’ experiences. I said that I thought the book wasn’t for me, initially, but I changed my mind as I started getting engrossed in the birth stories, both sad and uplifting. The breast feeding section is useful and supportive and pleasantly emphatic, and I love the connection to Friends of Breastfeeding. The book includes a detailed and honest section on post natal depression, which I think is vital, really, in these days of nuclear families where women with young children can feel very isolated and alone. I think it’s a thoughtful and realistic inclusion.

I am a little sorry that the only quote that I originally provided that made it into the book is a rather dubious one about extended feeling – I feel quite the hypocrite given that I went on to feed my son for an emphatic three and a half years! Perhaps part of me still feels the way I did in the book, but that got overridden pretty fast.

I think other women and mothers are our best resource. We are lucky if we are surrounded by a circle of them, but some of us aren’t, and I think this book goes a long way to create that feeling of solidarity and understanding. The section on Bad Mammy Moments is worth the asking price alone. This would make a really fun, practical and thoughtful present for a mother-to-be, I wholeheartedly recommend it.

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