Sunday, December 30, 2012

Slummy Mummy

It was my younger daughter's fourth birthday. I was about to
pop a cake in the oven when I got a call from the school nurse
explaining that head lice had gone viral in my older daughter's
classroom. Parents were being called to claim their children. Unable
to drive, I had to walk Katie and her fresh-from-the-hospital baby
brother over a mile in frigid weather, realizing that trips to the
laundromat, bagging stuffed animals, extensive additional vacuuming,
and intensive child hair care were about to be added to my already
packed (I also ran a home typing service to supplement the hubby's
income) and totally sleep deprived life style.
If you have memories like that, whether from years ago or last
week, you will love Fiona Neill's Slummy Mummy. Lucy is the mother
and primary caretaker of three young sons. The chores are never
ending. Emergencies big and small crop up with alarming frequency.
Even when she plans carefully, a small unexpected glitch such as milk
spilled on a school uniform can throw her system into pandemonium.
Lucy can't understand why her life has devolved into near
chaos. As she muses in the first chapter, "It is utterly baffling to
me that I used to be able to put together the lead package on
Newsnight in less than an hour but am so singularly unable to meet the
challenge of getting my children ready for school each morning. It
seems unbelievable that I could persuade cabinet ministers to come to
the studio late at night to be grilled by Jeremy Paxman but cannot
convince my toddler to keep on his clothes." Sound familiar to anyone
beside me?
Her husband is clueless, unable to see why she doesn't have life
reduced to a formula or why the element of chaos appeals to her,
adding excitement to her life. At her children's school the other
mothers seem in a whole different league, especially Yummy Mummy
Number 1 and Alpha Mom. Sexy Domesticated Dad could be a candidate
for an extramarital affair. Only she isn't sure if she's interested
in what he may or may not be offering.
Neill had me hooked from the first page where Lucy is without
contact lenses because she left them soaking in a coffee mug and her
hubby has drunk them. Again. The book is funny at times, poignant at
times, never boring. You don't have to be a parent to enjoy it.
After I finish this review I'm passing it on to my teen age daughter.
Of course I'll insist that my book club include it in our line up.
On a personal note, after a brown Christmas central Maine has been hit
with two snow storms in a row. This is gonna make for GOOD SLEDDING!
A great big shout out goes out to all the other moms who, like Lucy
and me, don't run picture perfect households.
Julia Emily Hathaway

Sent from my iPod

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