When Motherhood Isn’t Nonstop Bliss

Nine Months

By Paula Bomer

Bomer delivers a book of stark honesty that may not be for everyone. It’s not simply the raw sexual and biological images, but even more troubling to some is the idea that motherhood can rob you of your soul, if you allow it to. Or it can absorb you so completely that you lose who you are, and you must set off on a voyage of discovery to find your lost self, your lost soul, and restore balance to your life. With this in mind, it is a novel for people (women and men) planning to start or discontented in a family, and for people who have an illusion about love and marriage and motherhood.

That’s not to say Nine Months is a self-help book. It is a novel, a quite good novel, topical, brimming with wit, insight, even adventure. Succinctly summarized, Sonia imagined herself as an artist but finds herself a mother of two little boys married to a nice guy living in an upscale section of Brooklyn. Then she discovers herself pregnant again and descends into neurotic turmoil. She agonizes over terminating the pregnancy but deciding somewhat de facto continues with it. During a harrowing first trimester, she confronts a variety of issues, among them the need for a new apartment, an undesired uprooting, that one of her married friends might be a lesbian coming on to her, her painting, and her self-identity. Next comes her second trimester. The world becomes a better place, for a time, until into her third trimester she decides to bolt on what proves to be a physical journey of self-discovery. She has random sex with a man at an Interstate rest stop, visits her old, wild, daring girlfriend who is now plain weird, travels to her birth home in South Bend where she hooks up with old friends, now hardscrabble, onward afterwards to Colorado and her sister Nicky, her polar opposite, and finally to Wisconsin and her former artist lover and instructor.

If the story strikes you as an odyssey, in many important ways it is. It features some of the same themes, universal and time honored, as in Odysseus’s long and adventure-packed journey home. Sonia journeys in search of her identity. She disguises herself as an artist, the artist she wished to be, and as a rebel that she isn’t, at least before fleeing. Everywhere she goes, she receives hospitality, including at her sister’s. Interestingly, all in some way are domestic, albeit imperfect, situations. In the end, at the isolated home of her mentor, in the midst of her fondest desire, she receives nothing but scorn. Finally, there’s the homecoming, back with her husband and sons, with her newborn daughter, to try putting everything back together again.

Well written, quickly paced, you’ll zip through it, pausing occasionally to laugh at the characters, and perhaps at yourself and people you know who behave similarly to the various individuals in Sonia’s life. Here’s a short example. Sonia has breakfast with her girlfriends Risa and Clara. The conversation turns to preschools. Sonia horrifies the women with her choice of school. Clara says, “Sam was just diagnosed with ADHD and we’re getting together a whole proper medical approach to it. Brooklyn Fellowship is really on top of things that way. Nothing gets by them. I would never send my kid to someplace that doesn’t have the proper developmental approach to early childhood needs. If you don’t catch things early, there’s no hope for your children. I’m just thankful they caught Sam’s problem early enough.” To which Sonia replies, “Attention Deficit Disorder? What is he supposed to be paying attention to? He’s four years old.”

Recommended as a thoughtful and different approach to motherhood, for both those convinced and unconvinced being a mother, and a father, is nonstop bliss. w/c

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