A writer shows how the birth of a daughter changed her life and her relationship with her own long-dead mother.
June, a former staff writer at New York magazine’s The Cut who frequently writes on issues related to parenting, tells the story of her own experiences as a parent, beginning with her decision to have a baby at age 35. She shares the details of the pregnancy, the Caesarian delivery (“my birth experience, such as it was, was about the best thing I could have imagined”), the emotional roller coaster of early parenthood, and the loneliness—and boredom—that often comes with new motherhood. She is clearly fascinated by her life as a mother and with her developing daughter, Zelda, and she is an especially aware mother. Not all readers will share her in-depth fascination, but what makes this account different from “let-me-tell-you-what-an-amazing-child-I-have” baby books are the revelations about June’s mother, whose alcoholism became an early defining factor in her daughter’s life. Her mother’s disease became the author’s secret and introduced her to a life of secrets and lies. Her look back at her years with an alcoholic mother, which makes up a significant portion of the book, is straightforward and has the ring of accuracy. Becoming a mother changed June’s life in more ways than first-time motherhood inevitably does. It opened her up to a social world she had not known, and it allowed her to form family connections she had not had before. New mothers, especially stay-at-home ones, may find that a private life made public is just the thing to brighten and lighten their own suddenly restricted lives. Less-engaged readers may see the memoir as a trip not worth taking.
Punctuated by insight and inspiration but a bit too self-indulgent for readers who are not mothers or mothers-to-be.