One of the things I value more than any technical manual is a personal perspective. And there is nothing like the personal perspective of a fellow mother. This is my review of Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar’s Mommy but Still Me. In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that Mohana and I met as students at Peace College when she was a first year student and I was a junior. And though our lives took us in separate directions after graduation, I am please to reconnect with this remarkable woman (check back on Monday for just how remarkable).
For some the biological clock ticks loudly. I was never one of those women. I liked children and babies, but never felt this overwhelming need to have one of my own, figuring it would happen eventually without me worrying much about it. But the world at large has other ideas.
Rajakumar’s perspective starts out in that place. She’s a modern woman who pursues education and career goals with the idea of marriage teetering on the edge with the idea of children even farther away until she does find a man with whom marriage fits nicely. Then comes all the baby talk.
Suddenly family and friends start asking the question of “when?” Along with complete strangers who have a strange fascination with being in on the discussion. And that’s not just my take. Rajakumar is witty in her observations and candid in her internal monologue that I found very easy to identify with. She doesn’t refrain from sharing what she really thinks.
As her journey progresses she shares all her anxieties, expectations, and everything in between. I particularly liked how she talks about the “trying” phase, which I didn’t experience being one of those who was never “trying” but never actively avoiding pregnancy. It brought back to mind the time I was sitting at a picnic table with some co-workers. One of the women was in the “trying” phase when I found out I was pregnant, and I remember she was very curious about every detail. She became angry when she found out that I hadn’t been trying, and only calmed down after I also shared that I hadn’t been on birth control of any kind since being married for the past two years. See? Not trying, but obviously I wasn’t some wealth of fertility for her to envy or resent.
But that’s the thing. The journey is so personal that it can be hard when our journey is so different from that of others. It is difficult not to compare when trying to make sense of it all. We want guide posts and signs that indicate clearly that this means that and if we do this we will get that result. Alas, that is not how it is.
Rajakumar talks about this as she goes from beginning to end, covering the ups and downs of “trying” to discovering through gestation to the birthing plan that goes out the window and into motherhood. At several points she even points out that depending where you are in the journey to motherhood reading her words may not be helpful, but I would disagree. It may only be one woman’s perspective, but it is one worth reading.
What are some of your favorite motherhood perspective books? Have you read Mommy but Still Me? What did you think?