Review: Look How Happy I'm Making You by Polly Rosenwaike

May 15, 2019

 

Look How Happy I'm Making You by Polly Rosenwaike features stories about women who want to be mothers, who reluctantly come into motherhood, who struggle with the identity of motherhood, who deal with post-partum depression, who never want(ed) to be mothers, who have lost mothers, who choose to terminate their motherhood. 

I have mixed feelings about this book of short stories on motherhood -- probably because I am on the cusp of motherhood myself, less than 3 months away from giving birth to a miraculous baby boy. Some of the stories made me uncomfortable, and even a bit scared, especially the ones that referenced stillbirths or miscarriages. You never know real fear until you are pregnant, I've realized. The miraculous process of growing a human, whose heart is formed and beating even before there are structures to contain it, brings into sharp relief the fragility of human life. So, reading about how seemingly easy it is for a life to be snuffed out before it is truly lived is, yes, frightening. For expecting mothers, then, this may not be the book for you. And for those who have lost a child, some of the stories may arouse unpleasant memories and emotions. 

With that said, however, I do think the stories are well written and realistic, and the myriad emotions experienced by each story's mother/not-mother will strike home with many. I think my favorite story may have been the last one, because it doesn't romanticize motherhood (which I admit I do) and shows how normal it is for a bond between mother and child to take time. Not every mother gives birth and immediately falls in love, even if she desperately wants to. I also think the stories accurately capture both the fear and the love that mothers have in their hearts; fear that they "don't know how to do this" or "can't do this," and the love for another human being that swells hearts they thought were already full.

I wish more of the stories had been more hopeful or that they at least highlighted the happier, more positive aspects of motherhood, but maybe I'm romanticizing again... Ultimately, I think any woman who is a mother, wants to be a mother, or has thought about becoming a mother will find something within these pages that resonates with them.

 

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