Recommended Reading List
The Mother 'Hood
Download list
Please login or register to use this feature.

The Mother 'Hood

By 49thShelf
1 rating
rated!
rated!
Canadian books that explore the mothering experience-- the good and the bad.
Joy Is So Exhausting
Why it's on the list ...
The entire book is a delight, but it's the poem "Nursery" that puts it on the list-- about the life that happens as pages and pages go by, the nursing baby changing from one side to another, the mother unmoving and being transformed in the process.
close this panel
Great Expectations

Great Expectations

Twenty-Four True Stories about Childbirth
translated by Lisa Moore & Dede Crane
edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback eBook
More Info
Why it's on the list ...
There is no such thing as an ordinary story about childbirth. And no two stories are the same.
close this panel
February
Why it's on the list ...
Yes, the story is about grief and loss, but it's also about getting on with it, about sock-pairing and ordinary family life. It's about bringing up children and learning to discover who those children are.
close this panel
Between Interruptions

Between Interruptions

30 Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood
by Cori Howard
prepared for publication by Key Porter Books
edition:Paperback
tagged : motherhood
More Info
Why it's on the list ...
The cumulative experience of these essays is exhausting, but something in this collection will convince any mother that she is not alone.
close this panel
Pathologies

Pathologies

A Life in Essays
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
More Info
Why it's on the list ...
Several of Olding's essays touch on motherhood, her personal experiences so illuminating the universal. And "Mama's Voices" is an extraordinary exploration of the ethics of writing about one's children and family life-- how much does a writer own these stories? Or her children?
close this panel
Bear With Me

Bear With Me

What They Don't Tell You About Pregnancy and New Motherhood
edition:Paperback
More Info
Excerpt

Once I was showing, I suddenly noticed that pregnant women were everywhere: on the bus, in Swiss Chalet, at traffic court. Janis pointed out that they were always there, we just never gave a crap.
I recently had lunch with a woman who was coming out of her first trimester. She looked at me conspiratorially, “You know what they don’t tell you?”

“What?” I whispered back equally furtively over a stack of creamers that my eighteen­month-old had erected and was in the process of destroying.

“Pregnancy is so much fun!” she hooted. My son bellowed, “Okay!” and a creamer exploded in his mouth.

While I wholeheartedly agree that being pregnant is one of the most joy-filled, awe­inspiring things a body can do, “fun” wasn’t where I was at by week sixteen.

My lunchmate was aware of this and said, “You’re sort of my benchmark. Nothing in my first trimester was as bad as yours, so I figured I was doing okay.”

Glad I could help.

THE LIGHT
By week sixteen of my pregnancy, I had begun to chart days: barf (b), not barf (nb), partial barf (pb). I meticulously measured and recorded these details in a futile effort to weave order and control into the unpredictable tapestry that was my stomach.

Then, slowly, through a cluttered tunnel of charts and graphs, I realized that I was starting to see some light.

It began the day I took a ride on my bike to the corner store. While I had to lower the gears to “Grandma with a bad hip” levels, and I had to grunt and heave and sweat my way up my street (which was on a slight, but definite incline, something I was determined to complain to the city about) I made it to the store.

The only thing I can compare it to is when you have one of those long, ugly winter flus. You start to feel like you’ll never have energy again, and you regret that you didn’t really enjoy your life before. An endless wasteland of sick stretches before you. Until one day, you get a little pep back. Three days later, you forget what the flu was like.

Yet, I wanted to hold on to my experience of the first trimester. I was thrilled that I might get my personality back, but I didn’t want to forget the magnitude of the change that had occurred in and to me.

I needn’t have worried. The changes continued.

close this panel
Why it's on the list ...
Absolutely hilarious (Flacks went on to perform this as a one-woman show). Everything that she says is true, which a reader will never believe until she experiences it herself. But at least she'll never be able to say she wasn't warned...
close this panel
Hump

Hump

edition:Paperback
tagged :
More Info
Why it's on the list ...
Next up on my to-be-read list. I'll get back to you...
close this panel
The Mother Zone
Excerpt

Chapter 3: Getting Pregnant

Our courtship was not the stuff of which photo albums are made. I was shocked to find myself in love with someone willing to risk losing me. So I would leave, come back. Leave, come back, like destiny's yo-yo. I tell myself now that I must have seen the gleam of the good father in him. But I didn't. Right from the start, I lavished lusty hatred on him, because he made it perfectly clear that he preferred a drum to a baby. His resistance on the reproductive front made for some poisonous fights, as I tried to intellectually manhandle him into position.

When he went on tour, which was often, I even did my best to fall in love with other, more suitable mates. For a time, this strategy worked all too well. Both of us flirted with losing each other, lobbed revenge back and forth. But he was there in his body, which is what hooked me and kept me hooked. I knew that he had a stubborn mind and a muscular heart, and maybe he would open them up to me someday. Well, I didn't know it then, but I could see the evidence, at least, in his clear passion for writing and music. I always wanted to spell things out, and he was tired of consciousness. Now he wanted it all to happen physically, or musically.

I would sometimes tag along when they went on the road, to some small-town bar up north, where girls wearing the all-pervasive Farrah Fawcett hairdo and too much blue eye shadow would linger in the dressing rooms. After every gig, the Hairdos would drift into the back rooms, perch on the sprung sofas. Then I would show up, the bad-tempered bride with sensible bangs, to claim my boyfriend, the lapsed writer, the mad drummer.

I didn't want him to give up music, although it must have looked that way to him. And I didn't care about getting married, or waffle irons, or anything like that. It was the heart, an ability to stick around, and the friendly, highly motile sperm I was after: the minimalist approach to marriage.

He saw the creative life as incompatible with family. He had a point, although I refused to accept his dichotomous view of things: art vs. journalism, fun vs. family, freedom vs. "settled down." I felt I was being typecast as the practical homebody, whereas until meeting him I was a traveler too, an adventurer. I was like him. But now the urge to have a baby was turning me into some kind of enemy.

I moved in with him, and we fought almost every night. As the band was running out of money, I felt I was running out of time. It was tempestuous, sad, and wearing. When I wasn't plotting my own escape, I wondered why he didn't leave me.

Looking back, the thing that also kept us stalled was my insistence that he match my desire for a baby, cell for cell. I wanted him to want one in exactly the same way, and to the same degree, as I did. Otherwise, I wasn't convinced. It didn't occur to me that men might come at the idea of fatherhood from a different angle. Perhaps for men babies are just an idea, an abstraction until they hold them in their arms. But the initial urge, the detailed, irresistible, and irrational longing, was mine. It was physical, like hunger. I refused to admit that this difference could exist between us and not be a failure of love. I needed him to be as sure and single-minded, if not more so, than I was. So there we were, in limbo.

Four years passed in this fashion. I was thirty-six. We had moved into our own apartment, and he had started to free-lance again. The band had turned down a recording contract to pursue success on their terms, but debts eventually forced them to call it quits. Brian decided that, generally speaking, in principle, the idea of a child might not be so bad. It could happen -- no need to set a specific date, yet. The bull was in the chute, at least. (Crass biological analogies are in order here.)

But how I resented my role in all this, which was to arrange for timely coition. I had to be ruthless and administrative about it, while he got to be vaguely spontaneous. Already, I was up there in the mother zone, overseeing, planning.

It was September and coming around to ovulation time again on the old Wheel of Fortune. I decided we would give it a whirl in two days, on a Friday. He didn't say no. Except -- except -- he was playing that night, at an event downtown at the Cameron Hotel, an artist's hangout. Once again his performance night clashed with ours.

Friday night arrived. We went down to the Cameron, he did his set, and we were about to go home around midnight. I was almost but not quite dragging him through the front room in the direction of the streetcar, the one named Desire, when he caught sight of Mojah, a drummer friend who had just arrived. "I'll be right there," he said to me and headed for the back room.

I waited. Then I heard drums. They were playing together! He had forgotten about me and our momentous unborn child. I was furious. I could have pried the tiles off the floor with my bare nails. I went outside into the raw, wind-whipped fall night, where I waited in a radioactive rage for the Spadina bus.

An hour or so later, he came stealthily up the stairs to our third-floor bedroom -- the innocent, tired, satiated musician coming home to the trusty flesh of his somewhat demanding girlfriend. I said I needed him not just to capitulate, but to choose. I accused him of all sorts of other sins, then turned my back on him, and myself, and us. There was a spare bed next door. I crawled away into it and congealed into a solid block of sleep.

Saturday morning, we had to face the fact that we were going to a friend's wedding, which was a two-hour drive north. Well, it's now or never, I thought, still seething from the previous night.

I went into the bedroom and sullenly asked him to join me on my pallet next door. He was sleepy and unrepentant, but the idea of making love in the morning, like a cup of hot coffee, perked him up. After all, this was sex, the easy part, not just another fight. We have to step on it, I said, or we'll be late for the wedding. I was shut down and stone-faced as we began to make love.

But then something took over. Soon there was nothing ambivalent about what we were doing, nothing halfhearted at all. Babies spring from heat, not ideas. I felt myself fall into the buoyant net of something bigger than our two battling egos. My anger, his resistance, were just part of a tedious game we had played with each other, like children. Our own childishness dissolved in this attempt at child-making, and we came out of it on level ground.

Then we leaped up and began racing around getting ready to go to the wedding. In our newly purchased, three-hundred-dollar used Volvo, we drove up the parkway, with the engine laboring. On the fringes of the city, the unthinkable happened. The car slowed down and rolled to a halt. Since I was in the throes of imagining myself pregnant, this was a sign, and what it said to me was: you have just bought a used car that will break down in the fast lane of the freeway. We will never leave town and reach a better, sweeter place.

Brian took over, suggesting we rent a car and carry on. We would still make the wedding in time, he reassured me. The Volvo was towed off, a new car arrived, and we sped on, distraught but persistent. By driving at frightening speeds through the strobing autumn colors of northern Ontario, we arrived at the church just before the bride appeared.

As we sneaked into a back pew, I wondered exactly how long it takes for the sperm to collide with the lost moon of the ovum. Somewhere between the smoky bar of the previous night and the small-town wedding, our son was conceived, in helpless love and human anger.

close this panel
Why it's on the list ...
Jackson was telling it like it is long before truth was fashionable. A seminal motherhood text.
close this panel
comments powered by Disqus

There are two ways to make a reading list

This way:

  1. Click the "Create a New List" button just above this panel.
  2. Add as many books as you wish using the built-in search on the list edit page.

Or that way:

  1. Go to any book page.
  2. In the right-hand column, click on "Add to List." A drop-down menu will appear.
  3. From the drop-down menu, either add your book to a list you have already created or create a new list.
  4. View and edit your lists anytime on your profile page.
X
Contacting facebook
Please wait...