As a Mum to two boys and someone who’s open to opinion on parenting ideas, I thought I knew a fair bit about motherhood. I’ve juggled work and babies on and off for several years. I’ve had many a frank discussion with other mums about just how we go about this ”business” that we do. I guess I liked to think I had a few tricks up my sleeve.
Then the opportunity arose for me to review a new book, aimed at new Mums. It was boldly entitled “Cocktails at Naptime”, and without even having a copy of the book in my hands, I was stopped in my tracks. Cocktails, at naptime?
Why the hell hadn’t I thought of that before?
Based on the title alone, my instincts told me that Emma and Gillian – the two clever Mums who wrote the book – just may know a thing or two that perhaps I didn’t. So I volunteered to read Cocktails and Naptime – for myself, and for the benefit of several new Mums and mums-to-be I know. Heck, for all Mums in the world at large…
And it turned out to be an eye-opening, absolutely hilarious read from start to finish! Emma and Gillian leave no stone unturned. All the important topics new Mums need to know about are covered: the extraction process birth, breastfeeding (behold the Alpha Boob!), midwifes (and yes, I encountered several that should definitely have been prison officers), your emotions, post-birth sex, getting back into shape, yummy mummies, life as a ‘Mum’, returning to work.
Yes many of these topics are covered in other self-help parenting books. But there’s one key difference that separates Cocktails at Naptime from the rest. It is a no holds barred account of the experience many of us have as a new mother.
We need more books like these. Who really tells you about what motherhood will be like? I mean, really? Yes, we’re often told about the joy of being a parent, the limitless amount of love you’ll have for your children… but the tough bits? All I think my mother told me was ”oh..you’ll be tired”. (And oh sweet Lord, was she right about that.)
Despite the book covering topics that can be quite difficult and even traumatic for some new Mums, Emma and Gillian manage to do this while lifting your spirits. Making you feel OK about it all. Giving you ample chance to laugh about this motherhood gig..and at yourself.
I was able to ask the authors, Gillian Martin (of Aberdeen, Scotland) and Emma Kauffman (Baltimore, US) a few questions of my own. (Sadly no I did not fly to interview them in person, it was done via email) Here’s what they had to say.
I am amazed that you haven’t met each other yet! What was the most difficult thing about jointly writing the book while living in two different continents?
Emma: Well writing together had a lot of up sides – I mean sometimes writing can be a fairly lonely slog so it was really a joy to write with someone else – even if that person was 4,000 miles away (Gillian is in the UK and I am in the USA). But mostly it was energizing – she’d write a bit, then I’d write a bit and we’d be fired up by each other’s energy. I guess the toughest part was fine tuning it at the end – the editing process was tough when we couldn’t be in a room together! As for meeting each other I think it will happen we just don’t know exactly when!
Gillian: The more I think about this the mental I think it is. Why haven’t we met? How did we get this book written? We just kept on going til it was done. I always thought when we started out that at one point we’d have rent a room in some dodgy hotel midway and open a bottle of Absinthe, smoke a thousand Gitanes and mop each other’s fevered brows until it was finished. Sadly we just did it by email. I’d bought that Absinthe specially as well….
Many of us are juggling motherhood along with work and other projects. Do you have any tips on how you managed to write Cocktails at Naptime, while still doing all the things Mums have to do?
Emma: Well since my kids are older I don’t really have any excuse not to put pen to paper. My kids are both at school and I don’t currently work outside the home so I try to get a bit of writing done every day just to keep the creative juices flowing – when I’m not surfing the internet, twittering, avoiding the gym and generally faffing about that is. I don’t have that many distractions other than those self imposed ones I just mentioned. For example, I can work in a messy room and am the opposite of a cleanaholic.
Gillian: This is the tricky part. I work too much. I have freelance work, lecturing work and the whole family stuff going on. It’s probably fair to say that I let other parts of my life slide slightly to be able to write as much. These other areas can fit safely into the following categories: Home hygiene, home improvements, getting involved in any parent councils or committees, doing regular exercise, paying attention to my husband and body hair removal. I am always permanently knackered and will probably die an early death but I’d rather be writing than anything else, so I’m prepared to forgo old age, a clean house and my mother/mother in law’s respect and admiration.
I loved, but am admittedly a little afraid of, the Alpha Boob. Who came up with this hilarious notion, and did your Alpha Boob rule your life?
Emma: Well I had two Alpha Boobs that gushed milk to such an extent that I could have wetnursed a small village and started a cheese factory. Gillian suffered at the ducts of an uneven lactational pair of breasts and no doubt while suffering this ignomy coined the phrase of overproducing Alpha Boob and smaller less productive Beta Boob and I know many mums have had this rather stressful experience. In what ways did the Alpha Boob rule your life Gillian?
Gillian: You should be afraid of the Alpha Boob. I was! (and so was anyone who saw me naked). Yeah, I was the freak with the Alpha Boob. It happened to me in both instances. When my son was nursing at least the Beta Boob attempted to work a little but I think it was producing inferior shop bought milk – you know the kind you’d get from a budget supermarket that you could have in a store cupboard and it would keep for years – like in a nuclear bunker or in a space capsule. By Kid 2 the Beta Boob had retired entirely, it made no effort whatsoever. The phrase in the book “Hello my lopsided luverly!” comes directly from my husband John. I was a freak of nature. But so many of the people who have read the book have said, “That happened to me!” So we’re all freaks together.
Cocktails at Naptime is a hilarious read. I’m sure that one of your key intentions was to make readers laugh from start to finish. How important do you think humour is for new Mums? Do you think we perhaps need to lighten up a little?
Emma: Well I consider myself to be a fairly laid back person but even for me the first weeks after giving birth to my first daughter were fraught with trauma – I couldn’t bear to hear her cry even though of course, duh, that’s the only way a baby can communicate. I did worry about every little noise she made at the beginning but after a few months I got into the swing of it and stopped fretting. But the reason I worried less than most is that I avoided all those earnest baby advice books. I think the greatest tonic in those early days was talking to other like minded mums (and by that I don’t mean those patronizing know it all types but woefully inadequate mums like me in my neighbourhood who can easily be identified by having crusty baby puke on their t-shirts as they shuffle bleary-eyed into Starbucks wearing odd shoes), who I had a good laugh about the trials and tribulations of new motherhood. Yes humour is essential for the new mum as it takes you out of yourself and stops you fretting too much.
Gillian: I think we need to stop trying to be perfect. If baby is happy and mum is happy then that’s it really. If you are a little bit haphazard, don’t manage to get into your day clothes until 5pm, haven’t showered in a couple of days and don’t feel like mother earth like everyone said you would then that’s OK. Your brain goes a little bit weird in the months after you have a kid. You’re going to do stupid things. I locked myself out of my flat about 3 times, I went 100 miles with the baby down to visit my brother and forgot to pack myself any clothes (my son had his full range of bonnie outfits-I didn’t even have underwear). It’s OK to be a bit crap. It’s funny.
One last question. How often did you scull cocktails at naptime?
Emma: Like many people as I have grown older I have become less tolerant of alcohol. In my mind I am still a Holly Golightly devil may care party animal that could give Paris Hilton a run for her money. But the reality of the situation is that these days after two glasses of wine I am snoring on the sofa in front of the nine o’clock news. Actually I have this incredibly glamourous ex-model pal called Rachel who was feeling stressed with her tot who vowed, ‘Right I’m going to be one of those glamourous 1950s mums who quaffs sherry in the afternoons.’ But the next day after she tried her experiment she said ‘No, I can’t do it – the hangover is killing me.’ So, like Rachel, the reality is I may have had the odd sip of alcohol during the day now and again, you know, just to take the edge off … but it was more your vino than your hard core stuff.
Gillian: It’s funny you mention that. I have a friend who had twin girls about a year ago. She emailed me the other day to say, “And another thing, I have never drunk so much Pinot Grigio in my life. I don’t go out anymore, binge drinking, dancing til I fall down and tumbling in to bed at 4am – I just drink wine at home in a steady flow.” Hey, I am the child of Scottish parents brought up in the Seventies, sculling a Cocktail at Naptime is pretty much what we do best. Of course, if my midwife or health visitor is reading this. All that is a joke. I never touched a drop. Especially when I was still breastfeeding. No not even that time after my brother’s graduation when I was too hungover to go downstairs and make the baby a bottle and unleashed the Alpha Boob about 6am to get him back to sleep. That never happened.
So there you have it. If you’re a new Mum in need a good chuckle, or know of a someone who’s soon to be a Mum, grab a copy of Cocktails at Naptime. Not only is it a refreshingly honest read, I think it’s the laugh we all need to have!
You can buy the book direct from the publisher’s website: http://www.finch.com.au/books/cocktails-naptime It is also available from all good bookstores throughout Australia and New Zealand. You can also keep up to date with book news and what the authors are up to on their website: www.cocktailsatnaptime.com
I’m selflessly passing my copy of the book onto a friend of mine who is, as I type, 39 weeks and 5 days pregnant with her first child. Bless her.
Would you like to win a copy of Cocktails at Naptime for yourself? Leave a comment describing what shocked you most about becoming a Mum. What hit you for six? (Winner will be chosen randomly on Sunday, 17 October).
** The winner of a copy of Cocktails at Naptime is Bronnie from Maid in Australia. Congratulations Bronnie, enjoy the read!