My takeaway: Marriage is boring and pointless but it sure does make for some great sex with other people. and after reading this, those people will feel justified in smugly knowing that home-makers do nothing, as illustrated by the mothers in this story. No, its not a Kia), the whimsical nature of frazzled mothers who forget they have kids in said car while trying to save face after running out of gasoline three blocks from the house as opposed to the neurotic mother who has a chart of activities for the entire year pasted to the living room wall, or by writing off parents who hire people to raise their children while they, the parents, enjoy a life of exercise, manicures, and pubic waxing. These scenarios might be a cutesy way to make mothers feel better about what they perceive as their own parenting shortcomings but put together as a whole in this ridiculous package, it just reinforces the stupid stereotypes that stay at home mothers are dithering idiots, holier-than-thou mommy warriors, or money-hungry social climbers. But, again, Im not a mom and maybe these tales of cant-get-it-doneness vs overdone-ness vs hands-free doneness really are a panacea to the overworked, tired, always-questioning stay at home parent. Maybe moms read this and feel better about not having a clean house while simultaneously being smug over how wrong in-control moms and moms who have hired staff are. So, then, how is it that Lucy, who only has the luxury of an aged house cleaner who wont do the laundry and then, later, a laundry service, is still behind in domestic chores if she can afford help? Maybe stay-at-home parents have a lot more time, energy, and ability to have wild flings (they must, as they obviously do nothing else all day long - all you stay-at-home parents had better be having torrid affairs with each other or else this book has lied to me) and maybe its true that all men want to stray from their wives as I think all the men in this story have done at some point, but...ok, no, I didn't believe any of that. However, I do know hypocrisy, having engaged in it a time or two, myself, and this story is just rife with the stuff. The problem here is this was not her decision, it was theirs) until she's too tired of sex and wants to go back to a one-man relationship, the other college friend, Emma, is putting her own pretty spiffy life on hold for a married man, the married mans wife is finding fulfillment in material objects and maybe her trainer as any trophy wife would, Lucys mother-in-law leaves her life to start another at the request of a man...all nicely, tritely showing that liberated women who are trying to define their lives as they see fit still make most of their decisions based on what the men around them want. Also, married women cannot successfully have affairs because they cant compartmentalize and their inability to lie would give it all away...says Lucy and her friends. Just what makes Lucy so engaging to the sexy stay at home dad, Yummy Mummy #1, Celebrity Dad, the former fling, her two BFFs, and everyone else who adores her? And like Bridget Jones #3, which may have actually been the impetus behind this story (I am pretending the author was all, What ever happened to our good friend, BJ.
Because I am a stay-at-home mom I thought I would identify with this book, but no.
Seriously, most of this stuff would never happen. All that said, I did read this book to the end. A lot of people seem really bothered by the inclusion of that story line in the book, but actually I felt like it was pretty realistic.
This made a perfect summer holiday read, light and amusing with a serious undercurrent, and I identified strongly with the main character, Lucy Sweeney, a frustrated stay-at-home mum of three young children, "mothers like me, the slummy mummies, the muddlers and befuddlers, the ones who don't know what to do when a spare minute comes their way because it is so rare, wearing old dresses that have stretched with us over the years." Many of her amusing antics and slatternly behaviour could have been mine a few years ago, although the flirtation with Sexy Domesticated Dad would not have been one of them, and I wouldn't have put the school wastepaper basket in my handbag, either; I'm sure the teacher would have understood. Side-note of my own; is it more socially acceptable to work in childcare for other people than it is to look after your own children? Conversation stopper: "I'm a stay-at-home mum." Fiona Neill makes a good point about the Yummy Mummy sort who let others take care of the messy domestic side of life, allowing them more time to shop, exercise and have beauty treatments.
I kind of hate to put 4 stars on such a light and silly book but I really did like it and found it to be much more clever than I had thought that it would be.
Slummy Mummy comes quite as a surprise, being not only smart, witty and extremely funny, but the most important of all, giving astonishingly precise account of a woman in her midlife crisis. And Lucy Sweeney makes a long way from fantasizing about another man to making a decision about the future of her marriage.
Fiona is presenting a five-part series on BBC Radio 4 called Famous Footsteps, starting on January 12th.