Guys, I finally did it! I read an entire grown-up book, all by myself! This is the first novel I’ve completed since my four year old was a newborn and I binge-read the Game of Thrones series on my iPad while midnight nursing. And since Bunmi Laditan’s book, Confessions of a Domestic Failure, just happens to be about a stay-at-home mom who tries to be everything and succeeds at nothing, I knew I had to write an honest review for you all.
I have seen some of Bunmi’s more popular Facebook posts and think she’s hilarious, and I really like how she’s original and relatable at the same time. So I thought to support her novel and bought a copy when it was released a few weeks ago. I selflessly sacrificed my naptime workouts to read this book, and easily finished it in just a few days.
You quickly start agreeing with the voice of Ashley Keller, who’s the protagonist of Confessions of a Domestic Failure (and essentially the failure in the title): a knight in shining armor for SAHMs everywhere, if your knight smells like yogurt and has no idea what she’s doing most of the time. Ashley was a lawyer before having her daughter, who is now about eight months old. Our heroine wanders through her days (and nights) in aged yoga pants, coffee in hand.
Reading-wise, Confessions of a Domestic Failure makes you laugh and it’s easy to get through. The flow works well and there isn’t any confusion about what’s going on or whose perspective we’re getting.
I was surprised about a third of the way though the book, because I got upset. This funny book made me upset at the obstacles Ashley faces – like a workaholic husband who is no help, or feeling isolated because she has no mom friends… And I also got upset at how many Sanctimommies Ashley interacted with. I wanted to jump in the book and encourage her, or be a friend for her to talk to.
I was surprised about something else, though. This book honestly made me upset and sad about things I didn’t have, moments that I’ve taken for granted and are now gone, and things people don’t do for me. (That sounds hellishly selfish, but it’s true and I feel compelled to tell you so.) It’s almost like once I got into the guts of the book, parts of it were too real. And I discovered raw, unhealed wounds within myself.
I ugly cried when reading this book, y’all. On the floor of my bedroom. Into my bowl of gummy bears. More than once.
And I totally wasn’t expecting that.
So I put the book down for a day or two, and returned once I’d gotten those regretful, ugly feelings out of my system. Because I had to know what happened to Ashley!
Here was the first “real” serious moment I had with Ashley as she battled the difficulty of motherhood in her mind:
“Is this what motherhood is going to be like? Spending all day dreaming of getting a break and then, when it comes, wanting nothing more than to be with Aubrey?
I felt dread wash over me. I’d never be content again, would I? I love Aubrey more than I’ve ever loved anything or anyone, but when I’m with her, I feel smothered. And when I’m not with her, I feel incomplete, like a piece of me is missing.
How do other moms do it?”
Ashley deals with lots of issues that we as moms are all too aware of: things like guilt from not breastfeeding (or shame from breastfeeding in public); the ridiculously unrealistic expectations that if the house isn’t clean and dinner isn’t made, then you “just didn’t do anything today”; the equally ridiculous and unrealistic expectation that a mom should immediately be physically perfect, and all the baby weight (and hair loss, and acne, and brittle nails, and stretch marks) should instantly disappear; the judgment from everyone in your life that you’re screwing up your kid, coming from your darling mother-in-law or a stranger at the park.
We. Have. All. Been. There.
And as much as it sucks to see a (fictitious) character go through the same struggles all of us moms go through, it’s also refreshing to feel a little less alone on this ocean of motherhood. Knowing that I’m not the only one adrift in the Sea of Shame makes me feel a little bit better.
“I may not have been alone, but I was lonely. Very lonely… All I kept hearing from everyone… is how lucky I was to be a stay-at-home mom, but I wondered, if people knew how much time I spent by myself, whether they’d still say that.”
It’s also great to see that Ashley isn’t perfect. This is not a story about the mother who is glamorous or gets her nails done or can afford a celebrity trainer. She’s realistic. We read about her post-baby pooch, her crusty yoga pants, her messy cabinets and closets. She reminds us again of what “real life” looks like from a stay-at-home mother’s perspective.
And in the end, it’s a call to action. Us moms must keep each other from feeling like crap all the time. We can’t expect the media (ha), our neighbors (haha), or our government (hahaha) to make us feel validated and unified. It’s up to us, the fellow moms in our community. See the issues in your life, and with the other moms, and do something about it damnit.
“You know what really surprised me about motherhood? The slow realization that mothers aren’t anything I thought they were to each other. I thought once you entered the mommy club they brought you into the fold with open arms. Look guys, my vagina/stomach/overall body got torn up just like yours and I’m pushing a stroller here, we’re all going to be best friends, right? No. Maybe it was naive of me to think that just because we shared the experience of never feeling rested that we’d be blood sisters for life, but I wanted that. I needed that.”
I do think that the last 20 or so pages of Confessions of a Domestic Failure started to get a little unrealistic as the narrative wrapped up. No spoiler alerts here, but pretty much all of the risen conflicts get tied up nicely; I almost wish that one or two things didn’t end so well, just to make us sympathize with Ashley and to make it seem more “real life.”
I also would hesitate to loan this book to any mom who works – I would never want to make them jealous or sad because they can’t stay at home with their kids. This may just be me overanalyzing, but I’m not sure how a working mom or non-mom would feel about it.
Overall, this book is a fantastic read for any stay-at-home mom. There are so many “I know, right?!” moments that unite us, from unending laundry to feeling like a lesser person because we don’t bring in money. Ashley is smart and comical but she also has real flaws like we all do: nappy hair, ill-fitting clothes, stretch marks. She’s all of us.
And you can purchase Confessions of a Domestic Failure here as a paperback and here as an ebook/Kindle edition. (These are affiliate links, so I may get a percentage of your purchase, but it doesn’t cost you extra, nor does it take money away from Ms. Laditan.)
Finally, if you’d like to see my other reviews – including books about pregnancy and birth – you can check them out here.