Monday, January 23, 2012

Bookish Thoughts: Between Interruptions edited by Cori Howard

Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood edited by Cori Howard
Key Porter Books, 2008
Nonfiction; 328 pgs

Being a new mother, I jumped on the opportunity to read Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood when approached to be a part of the TLC Book Tour. I am eager to read about other mothers' experiences, especially honest ones. In part, I'm seeking out stories that are similar to my own, ones I can relate to so that I know what I'm experiencing is normal--or some semblance of normal at least. For another, I can't help but feel a special bond with other mothers, and I am curious about their stories just as much as my own.

It is easy to talk--and write--about the light and fluffy side of parenthood. About the smiles and milestones reached. It is even easy to joke about bowel movements and leaky breasts. It isn't so easy, however, to talk about the realities, including and especially the struggles of the entry into motherhood. I suppose that is one reason why I found myself clinging to the essays in Between Interruptions. Here were women telling it like it is, saying what I have been wanting to say--but not sure how.

It seems as if this topic has been popping up everywhere these days--in books, the media and around the blogosphere. I wish I'd thought to look for a book like this early on. I might not have felt so isolated and alone. I did talk a little about my own experience early on with Postpartum Depression last summer both on this blog and at Tales from the Toybox. Although, even then, I wasn't quite ready to go into too much detail. It's still difficult for me to talk about.

Between Interruptions offers several different perspectives of motherhood as the contributing writers share their personal stories with the reader. We hear from working mothers and stay at home moms as well as mothers of non-traditional families as they talk about their experiences finding friends, adjusting to work or staying at home, breastfeeding, dealing with anxiety (both general and specific), infertility, and having a child with special needs--among other things. The contributing writers pull no punches. They share their experiences and feelings, offering a real glimpse of the obstacles they have encountered as well as the joys.

The stories of new mothers in the workforce especially touched home for me. I may not have quite as glamorous a job as some of the writers who contributed to the book, but I understand the internal conflicts of being a working mom, of needing (or wanting) to work and of leaving my child in someone else's care. I still sometimes breakdown in my car after saying goodbye to my daughter after our lunch time visits some seven months later. Leaving her in the mornings as she still sleeps in her crib hurts my heart. It makes the mornings I am there when she wakes up, a smile lighting her face, all the more special.

The section on guilt had me in tears, I confess. It hit so close to home: Postpartum Depression, pressures surrounding breast feeding, postpartum sex, and dealing with feelings of inadequacies and jealousy. I could have written any three of those essays. I saw myself in each of them. It was a relief to read stories of other woman who had gone through what I am going through.

I do not think any book about motherhood is complete without touching on non-traditional families. I work with a number of single mothers and have friends in same sex relationships with kids. I also know parents who have adopted children--I even assisted in a few adoptions myself. So, I was glad to see essays devoted to such mothers as well.

One of my favorite essays in the collection was one by Joy Kogawa and her daughter Deidre Kogawa-Canute: Comparing Notes: A Conversation Between Mother and Daughter. The two carried on a conversation about motherhood, the patterns carried down through generations, and about their own expectations and feelings about being a mother and daughter and how our actions impact each other. There was quite a lot packed into their conversation. It was clear the two didn't always get along, and yet the openness with which they shared such a conversation with each other makes if obvious that they respect and love each other very much.

Even with the difficulties many of these mothers faced, one thing shines through in all the essays. The mothers' love for their children and their desire to give them the best life they know how. I came away from the novel feeling a pride I had yet to feel as a mother, feeling stronger somehow.

I hope you will check out what others had to say on the TLC Book Tours route!


Note: The print copy version of the book can only be purchased through the author's website. An e-copy can be purchased through Amazon and other vendors.

To learn more about Cori Howard, editor of Between Interruptions and founder of The Momoir Project, an online writing centre for moms who want to learn to document their own stories, please visit the Please visit the Momoir Project website.


Many thanks to the TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour. E-Book for review provided by the editor.




© 2012, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

31 comments:

  1. I wish there had been a book like this when I was a new mom. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do. Your honesty is so welcomed and your writing is beautiful!

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    1. Thank you so much, Linda. I am glad I was able to read this book. The women's stories really spoke to me. I do wish I had come across it sooner, but now is a good time too. :-)

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  2. I want to read this book. Some things about mothering a baby are very hard, and only other mothers will ever understand.

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    1. I used to roll my eyes anytime anyone said that--that only other parents would understand. Now I totally get it and find myself saying the same thing.

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  3. I think this is the perfect book at the perfect time for you, and I am so glad that you found it helpful and that it touched you. It can be tremendously hard to go through some of these things, and when you think that you are the only one, it can probably be alienating as well. I am glad that you enjoyed the book, but even more glad that it spoke to your heart. Fantastic and very candid review today!

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    1. It did come at a good time, Heather. And thank you for your kind words! I have a hard time talking about my feelings, especially the negative ones, and I really don't have any close friends. I think those things contribute to my feeling of isolation more than anything. So, books like this really do help someone in my situation, I think.

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  4. Oh, I just want to give you a big hug! Being a mom is hard work. For me, I had miscarriages and fertility issues, so when I finally did have my kids, I didn't think it was RIGHT to complain since they were such little miracles. Then the whole working thing...the guilt!!! I probably needed to be on some kind of anti-depressant back then but thought I needed to tough it out. I would have really benefitted in having this book, or access to other women who felt the same way. Nobody ever wants to say anything.

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    1. Aw, thanks, Sandy. I am sorry you had to go through all that. I can't even imagine how hard it must have been for you. I hear you on not thinking it was right to complain. I wanted a child so much--stressed over it even--and then once she was here was totally unprepared for just how life changing it would be. Even knowing it would be life changing. Being the type of person I am, finding myself at such a loss and so emotional (something I have tight rein on usually), it's been challenging. It is for everyone to varying degrees, of course. But we can really only speak to our own experiences.

      I confess I still have the tough it out mentality. It's how I was raised and has been ingrained in me. My doctor hasn't pushed, but she wishes I'd consider medication. I keep rationalizing to myself why I don't need it.

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  5. Being a mother isn't easy and I think all the pressure society puts on females to be perfect just makes it worse. No matter what you do, you will feel guilty. I'm glad this book touched you the way it did.

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    1. Thanks, Kathy. That is so true. In reality, no one is perfect. I don't expect my daughter to be so why should I expect it of me? I remind myself of that when those thoughts of my not being good enough rear their ugly head.

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  6. This sounds like a wonderful read and one that we should put into the hands of every new mom or pregnant woman. There are so many things that moms don't talk about and we should. I had the most difficult time when I had to leave my son in daycare and return to work. The guilt deprived me of a lot of the joy I should have been feeling about my new baby. I kept a stiff upper lift to my co-workers but I should have just been honest and told them I was having a hard time.

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    1. Kathleen, I do think it would be a good addition to a new mom's library. And I agree. I wish I had had more conversations about the reality of motherhood either before or right after--I would have been better prepared for just how hard it would be and I wouldn't have felt like I was a failure or less than--not entirely anyway. :-)

      I do that now--keep a stiff upper lip with coworkers and even family and friends. The only place I've really talked about it is here--and with my doctor.

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  7. Wendy, what a beautiful review! I'm glad this book came to you at the right time. Thank you so much for being on this tour; you were the perfect reviewer for the book!

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    1. Thank you, Lisa! Thank you also for letting me be a part of the tour!

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  8. I think it's so important for women to be honest about being a mom. Doesn't mean you're a bad one but that you're REAL!! Sounds like a great book and it couldn't have come at a better time!!

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    1. Thanks, Staci. I know nothing can quite prepare you for motherhood except actually being there--but a good warning to at least help ease the way and lighten expectations.

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  9. This sounds really interesting. Motherhood isn't all smiles and sunshine, and I think it's good for people to admit that -- if you can't admit it, you can't deal with it. Thanks for the great review.

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    1. Some people sure make it sound so easy though, don't they? It was quite a culture shock for me. I didn't really know anyone with young children and I hadn't been around babies since I was babysitting as a teenager. And being in my late thirties, I had my routine down. Throw a baby in there and everything completely changes. I knew it would--my mind knew it would, at least. I just wasn't as prepared as I thought I was.

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  10. Fantastic review! This is one I will have to keep in mind as my time to be thrown into motherhood is coming soon. I'm dealing with a lot of depression issues now, which has my OB worried about how I'll deal with postpartum. So something like this might really benefit me.

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    1. Thank you, Kris. I am so sorry you are having to deal with issues of depression now. It's such a happy time in your life and that only makes it even harder--you know you should be feeling better and yet . . . Big hugs to you. If you need to talk, please e-mail me. You aren't alone.

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  11. I've begun to think of the 'non-traditional' family as one in which the father or mother works outside the house while the partner stays home with the child.

    I may have told you that we went 8 years without sleeping through the night! Now I sleep 8-10 hours a night. Still making up for it. :<)

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    1. Nan, it does seem like the old traditional family with one parent staying at home to care for the child is more of a rare thing now. It's much harder for a family to get by on one income these days.

      Eight years without sleeping through the night! I can see that being me with or without the help of a little one. Haha!

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  12. This sounds like an amazing book. I hard a really hard time adjusting when my oldest was born....and I'm sure that I could relate to some of these essays as well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one. I'm going to have to read it as well :)

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    1. It was very good, Samantha. I imagine quite a few parents can relate to some of the essays in this collection. It's well worth reading if you get the chance!

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  13. I feel like I have done a fairly good job of making motherhood look easy (at least on the blog), but it's so easy to only share the good and glowing moments and not the frustrations and tears and isolation. It's also hard not to feel the jealousy and the inability to measure up, always comparing to others and feeling weak or inadequate or the such. I still feel a pang of guilt that I wasn't able to breastfeed as long as I wanted (the stress became overbearing) and I really resent when people make backhanded comments about my being a working mom. Somehow I wish there could be a bit more understanding at how unique each mother and child are and how supportive we can be for one another.

    I think I'd really like this one and I'm so glad you were able to bring it to our attention. I've been SLOWLY reading What Mother's Do and really loving it. It sounds a bit like this one except just one author. I would certainly recommend that one to all new mothers.

    Wonderful post, Wendy. Big hugs to you and little Mouse.

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    1. Thank you, Trish. I am so glad you shared about your experience with postpartum depression. It is a lot more common than I think most people realize.

      Stacy shared a quote with me in an e-mail from a book she recently read about how mothers feel like failures and therefore we are less likely to talk about what we are experiencing. It really struck a chord for me. I don't understand why it's so easy for me not to judge others and yet when it comes to myself I do it all the time. We're so hard on ourselves. What you said in your post about the need to relax--so true. And not in terms of physically relaxing, but rather in the pressure we put on ourselves. I need to learn to do that. It's so hard though.

      Big hugs to you and Elle too, Trish.

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  14. This looks like a great one, Wendy. It is so much harder to share the dark side of motherhood, but it is the only way to really connect and know that what you are feeling is normal. As a stay-at-home mom I am desparate to find some relief during the day. I feel like I should be able to handle a 15 month old from 7 am to 6:15 pm without any help, but I can't do it any more without losing my mind! No choice (working/not working) is perfect, it can only be the best choice for you.
    I'm adding this book to my wish list!

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    1. I appreciate all your support, Stacy. I know you've had an especially difficult time having to deal with your son's health issues. I was so happy to read you finally know the cause! Such a huge relief. And now you can take action to try and prevent further episodes.

      Young ones are so much work! So full of energy. It's wonderful on the one hand but exhausting on another. I feel for you. I completely agree with you--the choice of not to work or work is a personal one and has to be made by the family. Both working outside of the home and staying at home bring their challenges--have pros and cons. There are days I wish I could stay at home and days I am glad I work. LOL We do what we have to do.

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  15. This sounds like a must-read for all moms, regardless of what stage of mom-hood they are in.

    I'm glad this one really touched you. Thanks for being a part of the tour.

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    1. Thank you, Heather. I am so glad I got to be a part of this tour. Reading Between Interruptions was very helpful--not to mention being able to discuss it with all of you.

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  16. I really wish this book had been out 9 years ago when I had my daughter! I had terrible post-partum depression after. I eventually found A Life's Work by Rachel Cusk, which chronicles her first year at home with her child. She is quite honest, and it helped me somewhat to know I wasn't alone in sometimes not liking motherhood at all.

    I relate to Nan too - we've only just started not having our youngest sleep in our bed. Instead, he goes to his sister's bed and sleeps with her. He really doesn't want to be alone! Everyone and all the child-raising books say, 'make him stay in his room yada-yada;'. I just roll my eyes know and know that some day he will outgrow it, and all we can do is try to help him feel safe at night. My point is, there is no one right way to do things, no one single answer, no solution, except the one that lets your children be themselves, and that lets them know you love them.

    I'm going to email you the rest. Hugs to you and Mouse!

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