Motherhood. We all have a vision in mind of what it’s supposed to look like: warm, nurturing, saccharine, even beatific. Even the messier versions we allow — frazzled new parent anxiety, daylight zombies — still position the mother as with-it and in control. But what about the mothers who are anything but in control? What about the mothers who have an addiction in control of them?
Jowita Bydlowska is the author of a searing memoir, Drunk Mom, about her 11-month relapse into alcoholism after her son’s birth. A sober alcoholic, Bydlowska toasted her son’s birth with a glass of champagne. Then she began drinking regularly in the overwhelming new days of parenthood. At first her relapse was easy to hide, especially home alone on maternity leave with a newborn. But soon, the addiction metastasized into full-blown alcoholism once again, causing her to make dangerous decisions about her own and her baby’s safety and shrouding her relationship with her baby’s father in lies. When she finally makes it to rehab, the reader is relieved everyone is still alive.
Drunk Mom, which will be published in America on May 27th, is a discomforting read. It’s bare-naked honesty about addiction and families will make a lot of people uncomfortable, especially those with idealized versions of what motherhood and womanhood “should” mean. It’s by far one of the best memoirs that I’ve ever read (and yes, I’m including Wild in that) both for it’s candor and bravery and for her narration. I understand addiction all the better with once-again-sober Jowita Bydlowska as the Charon to this Hades, our guide to the underworld.
I called Bydlowska in Canada where she lives with her now-five-year-old son.
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Mother’s Day is when advertising distills motherhood down to home-cooked brunch, a bracelet, or a fragrant bouquet. But for far too many people, the relationship with their mom is a complicated one. Not all mothers have been nurturing and caring; not all daughters and sons have overcome the trauma of their childhoods as adults. There can be a lot of love in a mother-child relationship, but also a deep well of pain. That’s why The End Of Eve: A Memoir, by Ariel Gore, is the perfect antidote to Mother’s Day.
Several years ago, Gore, who is the editor of Hip Mama magazine, was happily in a relationship with her partner and raising a college-aged daughter and a toddler son, when she got some news. Her narcissistic, emotionally abusive mother, Eve, announced she had cancer.
So, Gore and her family picked up their lives and moved to spend the last couple of years caring for Eve — who, in turn, made everyone’s lives difficult in every possible way, like reporting Gore and her partner to Child Protective Services for (nonexistent) child abuse. But Gore was dedicated to both caring for her sick mom and trying to keep her relationship with her girlfriend together.
As a memoirist, Ariel Gore is gifted: she is able to tell a heartbreaking story of illness and betrayal with the perfect mix of respect, humor and irreverence. I called Gore at home to talk about The End Of Eve, which I absolutely devoured. Our conversation is after the jump!
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As the song so painfully and beautifully goes, motherless children have a hard time. I am lucky I was not one of those children. And I’m not one of those adults. My mom is in excellent health and we have a close relationship. I’m grateful for that. But as mother’s day approaches, I can’t help but feel that life hasn’t been entirely fair to me where maternity is concerned. That’s because, at 37, I haven’t been lucky enough to give birth. I’m what you might call a childless mother. Keep reading »
When it comes to life as a working mom, not all states are equal. According to a survey by WalletHub, where you live in the United States as a working parent can help determine how much opportunity you have. The survey focused on statistics regarding child care, professional opportunities and work-life balance (I loathe that phrase, but that’s a post for another day). Each state, along with the District of Columbia, was ranked in order of how opportune they are to working moms. Keep reading »
Wioletta Komar, a 25-year-old mom of two, is demanding an apology from the retailer Sports Direct after she was forced from of their stores for breastfeeding her son. Komar was waiting for her father, who was to trying on a t-shirt, when she began to nurse her baby son, Daniel. “My son started crying, so I wanted to feed him. I sat on the bench near the shoe rack,” she told UK’s Daily Mail.
Then, an employee of the Nottingham, England shop approached Komar and told her that she could not nurse in the store due to “company policy.” The employee suggested she head to McDonald’s, which had a “baby and mother” room. Other customers were disturbed by the situation and helped Komar push her stroller outside. “It made me feel very upset. I was shaking and I didn’t know what to do. I knew that I was allowed to be there, but what could I do?” Komar said. I can’t help but think that any woman would react the same way to such a stressful situation! Komar made her way outside and into the rain to finish feeding Daniel, where she couldn’t help but cry. “I can’t understand why a baby has to be punished for being hungry and why I need to feel like a criminal when I just want to feed my baby son,” she said. Keep reading »