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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He showed up at my door wearing jeans. They were black, but they were definitely denim. Oh, dear. He looked so proud of himself, like, weren’t black jeans pretty much exactly the same thing as a suit? Jeans could be wedding-appropriate, come on! Well, no, not exactly. But if I said they couldn’t be, not for this wedding and probably not for most, I feared he’d only get angry and start railing on the bourgeois perceptions and expectations of my nouveau riche friends. He had on a jacket, at least, and a pressed button-down shirt. He’d shaved. He looked stressed, not angry yet, but on edge and ready to rage at being found fault with over something that he hadn’t cared about doing in the first place. This was my deal, not his.
“You look great!” I said. Keep reading »
The Otherhood: a growing population of educated, professional women in their 30s and 40s who have yet to find love or start a family. In fact, statistics show that almost 50 percent of American women are childless — yet our society still isn’t quite sure how to treat these women, placing all sorts of assumptions and opinions on them without truly understanding their decisions.
Enter Melanie Notkin, the successful founder of Savvy Auntie and a vocal representation of this demographic. Melanie’s new book, Otherhood: Modern Women Finding A New Kind Of Happiness, is part memoir and part reflection, digging deep into world of these women and the challenges they face. Keep reading »
If you read Piper Kerman’s memoir Orange Is The New Black or binge-watched the Netflix adaptation (and who hasn’t done that?), chances are you have wondered about the real-life woman behind Nora (in the book) and Alex Vause (the character in the show). For the first time ever, 51-year-old novelist and PhD student Catherine Cleary Wolters has spoken to Vanity Fair about her relationship with Kerman, their mutually-assured-destruction as cash smugglers for an African drug lord, and her side of their love story. Keep reading »