Friday, 6 April 2012
The Bitch in the House
Back in 2003 in between presenting jobs, I worked in a bookstore for about 4 months. I left the week before I turned 30, to present a travel show. I was living with my boyfriend (now husband) and we'd been together about 2 years. As I left, I bought some books using my discount for the last time. The one I was dying to read was called 'The Bitch in the House' by Cathi Hanauer. It was a collection of essays about sex, solitude, work, motherhood and marriage, by 26 writers.
It was amazing. However, at the time I was mainly interested in all the essays about sex and living with your partner and all that jazz - as that's where I was in life. The stories of motherhood felt foreign, a territory not yet explored and so held little interest to me.
Years passed, I lent the book out and then one day - it was gone. I missed owning it - which is odd, as I always pass books on, rarely keep any - just the most special ones - as I feel that books should be shared around. Years ago when travelling in Thailand there was a shop where travellers could leave books and swop them and I thought that was how it should be done.
Anyway, I bought it on ebay for a mere £1 and dived into it again, this time as a Mother. It was like coming home - particularly the section 'Mommy Maddest.' The introduction to that chapter talks about 'everywhere, every day there is anger... the quick summer storm kind of anger, the slow burn of anger, the underground anger that sometimes affects what you do or say without your evening knowing it was there...' 'There is the kind of anger that comes when you need to sleep and the child wakes, or you need to soak in the bath and child wants you to see his block tower... Anger is everywhere in the rough and tumble of child rearing as you find out what you can't tolerate, what kind of demon witch you really are, what causes you to flare, to stifle fury back down the throat, to let it out all of a sudden... None of this is simple. Domestic squalor is dark and serious. It leaves behind guilt or sadness. Anger bestows on you a portrait of your soul. It is often followed by guilt. The portrait is more detailed if you have children.'
The essay on 'The myth of co-parenting' by Hope Edelman made me feel more relieved than any piece I have ever read in my life. It was like someone else knew, someone else understood EXACTLY how I felt. I gave it Husband to read. 'Crossing a line in the sand' by Elissa Schappell also hit home. I felt not as alone, not as crazy, not as scared.
To all women - Mothers especially - I recommend this book. It is funny and warm, entertaining and opinionated. It is everything I wish this blog could be. In fact when I wrote my blog, right at the very beginning, this book kind of inspired me to do so - so as we all might not feel so alone in our respective lives. I implore you to hunt it out, to track it down, to borrow it from a friend. I'd be so interested to see what you all thought of it. If it resonated with any of you?
I am the Bitch in My house. My anger simmers, my temper flares. Sometimes I feel so lost in Motherhood that I wonder where I went (like I said in my ME post a few weeks back). The Bitch In The House makes me feel normal and sane and that I am just the same as everyone else. The only difference being, I talk about it.
Forgo the Easter egg that you will spend the evening regretting scoffing - instead get clicking on the web and treat yourself to this book. I promise you won't regret it.