‘Cocktails at Naptime: A woefully inadequate guide to early motherhood,’ should carry a warning: Not advisable to read in the first six week’s postpartum. Guaranteed to make you laugh and burst your stitches.
When Finch publishing kindly sent me a copy of Cocktails at Naptime, to read and review, I couldn’t ditch my rubber gloves and basket of laundry quick enough. Co-written by Gillian Martin (of The Misssy M Misssives) and Emma Kaufmann (of Mommy Has a Headache), who have remarkably never met in person, it is a hilarious read. Whilst baby Alice slept, I’ve read (and if it weren’t for breastfeeding, would have loved to have indulged in a cocktail).
When I had my first baby, seven years ago, I had a sea of books on either side of my breastfeeding chair. Let’s just say I had the yin and the yang of parenting books. It took me six months to listen to my instincts, ditch the books and go with what felt right. I’d been told before motherhood that babies don’t come with manuals. It took me a while to realise how true that was. The only way forward was to piece together a mix of advice to come up with the best fit for baby and I.
If only Cocktails at Naptime had been around back then I might have managed to get through the first year of parenthood without requiring prozac.
Over the past month this book has been on an eco-friendly book tour. The tour has resulted in no greenhouse gas emissions and no carbon footprint as it travelled around Australia and New Zealand via blogs of the two countries. The tour, like the book, has been a refreshing break from the daily routine of cleaning dirty bottoms and chasing my older children through the house, reminding them to remove their dirty shoes.
This is no manual or ‘how to’ book.
‘Cocktails at Naptime is a laugh-out-loud, utterly realistic examination of all the things that can happen to your mind, your body, your partner and your relatives after the birth of a new baby.’
It is refreshingly honest, hilarious and probably the best contraceptive for teenage girls. I obviously could have done with this book a few years ago as I’m now a mother to three, with the youngest being only 8 months old.
With the birth still fresh in my mind and the babe still at the breast, this book brought everything into crystal clarity with raw hilarity and reminded me I was nuts to birth a child again (and really should STOP and be happy with my lot!).
You’d think, seeing as I have been around the block a bit and am seven years into the motherhood game, that this book would have little to offer me. Wrong. Reading this book has changed my life in that I finally realise I am not alone with my ‘Alpha Boob’ (page 13). Unfortunately my Alpha Boob took over the house long ago and has left me feeling very lopsided.
‘Chapter 3: Sex and the stretchy girl’ made me realise I am in denial, have a very sympathetic husband and really ought to stop using the baby (at 8 months!) as an excuse and fulfill my wifely duty.
Here’s an extract…
‘Miraculously, there will come a time when you’ll want to have sex again. No, you will; trust us.
The problem is that this will probably not coincide with the time when your partner wants to have sex again. In fact there could be a gap of a few years between your partner wanting to have sex and you wanting to let him have sex with you.
For months and months after your child is born, while you’re busy nursing around the clock, your husband will keep buying you thoughtful little gifts. Like see-through crotchless underwear and peephole bras. Even when all you’ve asked him to do is pop out for some firelighters and a loaf of bread…..’
Thankfully, my husband hasn’t gone as far as purchasing the crotchless underwear and as for peephole bras – well my maternity bra kind of does that frequently. He has taken note of page 55 in the book (highly recommended and should be laminated and handed to new fathers at the hospital) and is helping with the housework in an attempt to free up some time (and energy) for me to engage on a deeper level with him (ahem).
The authors, Gillian and Emma, really know their stuff. I read this part of the book with a smile of satisfaction and a warm glow at the thought of a man in rubber gloves cleaning the toilet. Oh, these girls put my thoughts into words like I could only dream of doing. They have given me so much to think about and work on (I know hubbie dearest x).
The ‘Hi, I’m new here’ chapter is one I really could have done with years ago – it is the essential guide to read before crossing the threshold of a play-group, ante-natal reunion or any baby and Mum class. Every type of mother is covered from the ‘x’ to the ‘y’ and every which way in between. I saw snippets of myself reflecting back from a few of the descriptions and it wasn’t all pretty. But hey, we are all unique and this we must embrace and celebrate (yes, I’m a bit of a hippy, walking pacifier, with baby latched on day and night – but too lazy to go 100% cloth nappies and can’t be bothered with mashing up organic this and that so just feed my baby whatever’s on my plate – chips, chips and more chips – and therefore a bit of a slummy mummy too).
Here’s an extract from the book of just some of the many types of Mummy species:
‘Organic Mummy (Latin name: Sleepus Deprivaticus)
Appearance: Wears hemp clothing, anything cheesecloth or anything made from reclaimed or recycled materials. Has saggy breasts because she believes bras are against ‘the will of the Goddess’. Has bare feet, dreadlocks, tongue piercings and large Celtic knot tattos.’
‘Hi-5 Mummy (Latin name: Playschoolius Overallium)
Appearance: Brightly coloured; dresses like her child, has hair in pigtails; no make-up, ever. Constantly upbeat and smiling.’
‘Denial Mummy (Latin name: Contracepta Mistakius)
Appearance: Oscillated between startled and harassed. Wears designer clothes and keeps baby wipes handy for any baby effluent. Holds her baby awkwardly like she’s never seen it before and has just been handed it by a complete stranger.’
There is an entire chapter dedicated to ‘Achieving yummy mummy status’, which I of course read very seriously. I particularly related to the ‘Ski training’. Here’s an extract:
‘Junior has up-ended yoghurts, training cups and snot all over your polished floorboards. Simply wipe off the excess and strap two dusters to your feet and cross-country ski around the house. If it helps, pretend you are Roger Moore as James Bond in Octopussy, slaloming down that baninster to remove sticky fingerprints. Watch out for Duplo and Fisher-Price mountain chalets, and neighbours who come to the door complaining abou the ‘Whhhhhhheeeeee!’-ing noises and loud thumps as you hit the floor.’
Well, obviously this is what I spend most of my day doing and decided that after all that slaloming I deserved to don a cocktail dress and read on further in style…
The final chapter on going back to work versus staying at home was an entertaining read – here I am in absolute denial that a world outside babies exists – birthing a third to stay at home a little longer and deal with the following on a daily basis (changed whilst still wearing the cocktail dress – what a dedicated book reviewer I am):
Cocktails at Naptime is a hilarious look at those first twelve months (from birth to back-to-work) and the perfect antidote to the “how to” parenting manuals and the glut of “girlfriend” books. It gives you a hug, a parenting tip or two and an enthusiastic nod to having a big glass of chardonnay.
You can go sample a cocktail and have a sneaky peek at some of what’s in each chapter of Cocktails at Naptime here.
Go here to see the list of bloggers reviewing the book and read some hilarious interviews with the authors.
Go here to purchase the book.