This time last year I was pregnant and excited to comfortably rock out my leggings, my new “Mother to Be” maternity t-shirt, and statement earrings to brunch. Now, with a 9-month-old at home during quarantine, I am stuck inside with lots of time to think (still wearing those leggings and statement earrings, mind you).
My own experience of motherhood has left me in a space where I don’t feel like I’m just Arthur’s mom, responsible for his wellbeing and nourishment. I feel like I need to be a mom to the world. I want to comfort those who have felt unloved by their mothers. I want to give a hug (from 6 ft!) to those whose mothers have passed way. I want to infuse hope and love for those struggling with infertility. There are so many experiences around the holiday of Mother’s Day, good and bad, and it seems that this year’s Mother’s Day will look a little different than previous ones. I’m going to lean into this time to replace the usual celebrations with some books, reflection, and Rossini cocktails.
Here is just a sampling of books I want to read:
In the haze and fog of being a new mom, I still shake my head in disbelief anytime I see a photo of myself before I had a baby. It doesn’t seem like that person coexists with the person I am now, and I often wonder how (or if) Arthur will think of his mom’s time before he was born. I know it’s something I’ve thought about a lot, too, seeing photos of my own mother dressed in chic 80’s dresses, rocking a perm like nobody’s business! Reflecting on these sentiments has made me so excited to read Mothers Before, a tender collection complete with both photos and essays about mother’s lives before they had children. Don’t forget to check out the Instagram that inspired it all, too!
Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby
What did we do to deserve Samantha Irby? I have yet to read something she has written, or listen to an interview with her, where I haven’t burst out laughing (only to be looked at like I’ve absolutely lost my mind by on-lookers). I am intrigued to see how she takes her authentic Chicagoan self to Michigan (to live with her wife), Hollywood (to work), and how she manages both her physical and mental health ailments on top of it all (the book, after all, is dedicated to Wellbutrin). Her dry, grumbly, and weirdly zen approach to humor writing gives us the modern, Daria-esque irreverence we need to get us through these tough times.
More Than Love: An Intimate Portrait of My Mother, Natalie Wood by Natasha Gregson Wagner
Close friends and family know I’ve been a Natalie Wood enthusiast since the 6th grade. Okay, that’s putting it mildly; I’ve been obsessed! There was something about her nuanced acting, her tenacity to take control over her career, and the way her personal style seamlessly transitioned through the decades that’s always made me fascinated with her. Her daughter, Natasha Gregson Wagner, has authored a memoir that will explore the perspective I’ve always wanted to know more about. How did Natasha and her family rebuild after her mother’s untimely death? How did she find the strength to re-write her mother’s legacy, from media-frenzied tragedy to a life lived with tenderness and authenticity? The book comes out serendipitously on the same day that Gregson Wagner’s documentary about her mother comes out on HBO, What Remains Behind.
Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder
I have to admit that unlike other books on this list, I’ve already read this book. I will keep reading it over and over again, and I feel it’s especially needed for those who have lost their moms and need to find catharsis and solace in Feder’s work for Mother’s Day. She’s known for her original artwork, but this memoir explores Feder’s grief after losing her mother to cancer in college. The memoir is in graphic novel form, and she doesn’t shy away from awkward interactions with others, the sadness she felt (and still feels), or how some people in her life were simply unhelpful. These are lessons, and stories, we all need to hear. Bring tissues, because I was legitimately crying at page two.
Little Gods by Meng Jin
I really enjoy dense novels with multiple perspectives, and this book sounds like it will deliver. Liya’s mother, Su Lan, dies unexpectedly when Liya is just seventeen years. Liya grew up in the United States but is tasked with taking her mother’s ashes to China. There, we meet two other people from Su Lan’s former life, and with Liya’s, the three perspectives fuse to give us a version of who Su Lan was when she lived in Beijing, working as a physicist. I am eager to see how her life unfolds as both a mother and woman in science in her “other” life.
Slay Like a Mother: How to Destroy What’s Holding You Back So You Can Live the Life You Want by Katherine Wintsch
Wintsch explores modern mothers’ never-ending spiral of wanting to be “enough,” as women, mothers, etc., and how to break ourselves of that pattern. Unlike other books that address the sociological underpinnings of this conflict, Wintsch wants to provide tools so that we can address these needs from within ourselves. As a therapist, this speaks to me on a professional and personal level, and I can’t wait to explore it.
Pretty Things by Janelle Brown
Mystery thrillers are the stuff of escape right now. Why do we love seeing bad people do bad things when we’re stressed out? Who knows? All I know is that I’m going to be eating take out brunch and digging into this book about an influencer heiress coming to blows with a scrappy con artist (who, yes, learned it from her mama). And wait…there’s a swoon-worthy Irish boyfriend? Done.
Also, if you’re a mom looking for an escape from kiddos mid-quarantine, you have to read Brown’s previous mystery thriller, Watch Me Disappear (because…don’t we all wish we could sometimes?).
Delish Insane Sweets: Bake Yourself a Little Crazy: 100+ Cookies, Bars, Bites, and Treats by the Editors of Delish and Joanna Saltz
Like many of you, I am in a quarantine baking state of mind. But not so much a “let-me-try-to-make-something-complicated-from-scratch” state of mind, but more of a “pizza-rolls-are-cuisine” state of mind. I want something quick, delicious, and ‘grammable, ya dig? This cookbook looks fun, inventive, and uses lots of easy pantry staples for ingredients. I’m especially looking forward to making Crème Brûlée Cookies, Banana Pudding Bars, and Moscow Mule Cupcakes (because yum!).Also, how cute is that subtitle? If there is any time to “bake ourselves crazy,” it’s now.