September 10, 2009 at 10:17 am , by Louise Sloan
Here’s what I want to know: Are happy new moms just lucky, or are we also a wee bit simpleminded?
These days, it seems like all the cool new parents complain—bitterly and hilariously—about having an infant. In memoirs, essays and blogs, they debunk the cruel myth of that blissful first few months with a cooing, snuggly bundle of joy. That’s Hallmark-card hogwash, they say to their relieved readers, who find their honesty refreshing. These writers adore their kids, but let’s get real, they write: A newborn means being in a 24/7 state of extreme worry and panic, plus crushing boredom, plus guaranteed post-partum depression and the most searing pain you can imagine when you attempt to breastfeed. Miracle, yes, but also…nightmare!
The latest book I read on this topic was American Parent, a memoir and cultural history by my neighbor Sam Apple. As Sam wrote wittily about the extreme terror and tedium of being a stay-at-home dad with a colicky kid, I laughed out loud. I also recently devoured the beautifully written parenting memoir Waiting for Birdy, by self-described “catastrophizer” and LHJ contributor Catherine Newman, laughing so hard at one point that the other people in my doctor’s waiting room started edging away.
I have a shelf full of other great books that smash the oppressive myth of maternal bliss, like Mothers Who Think, Mommies Who Drink, The Bitch in the House and Perfect Madness. Never mind the many excellent blogs—shout-out to my internet buddy Tertia Albertyn, author of the hysterical and heartbreaking infertility memoir So Close, who now writes lovingly but often crankily about her newborn and her 4-year-old twins on her popular blog.
There’s one problem. I enjoy this kind of writing. It’s funny. But I don’t quite relate to it. At the risk of becoming America’s Most Hated Mom, I have a confession to make: I actually loved having a newborn.