Sunday, May 13, 2012

Non-Fiction: Bad Mommy by Willow Yamauchi

Prior to the birth of our children, we are given to believe that, while motherhood may not be a walk in the park, exactly, some instinctive something will kick in when the time comes and we’ll know what to do. Willow Yamauchi (Adult Child of Hippies) doesn’t believe that.

“The cruel truth,” Yamauchi warns in the introduction to Bad Mommy (Insomniac Press), “is being a good mommy is pretty much impossible. This creature exists only as a figment of our collective hope that we can actually be everything that our families need us to be. We all try to be good. And the truth is you will fail.”

To back up her statement, Yamauchi has rounded up 22 bad mommies to tell their stories of good attempts that got away. “This is not about evil mommy,” Yamauchi assures us, “this book is by, about, and for the many women who are somewhere between Joan Crawford and June Cleaver.”

Which, just as you suspected, is everyone. Possibly even you.

In texture, Yamauchi’s book is not greatly different from Ayelet Waldman’s 2009 Bad Mother (Doubleday), which was also released on Mother’s Day. However, ultimately Waldman’s look was snarkier, the humor slightly more remote. Yamauchi, on the other hand, mostly plays it for laughs, though the laughter is tempered by pathos and the reader can’t help but hear an unspoken refrain: we started out wanting to be perfect, yet we are not. And where does that leave us? Laughter is often a far better response than tears.

Happy Mother’s Day! ◊

Linda L. Richards is the editor of January Magazine and the author of several books. 



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