“Full of honesty, heart and humour.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
My Child and Other Mistakes: How to ruin your life in the best way possible is a memoir/ biography book written by stand-up comic, broadcaster and actress Ellie Taylor that takes the reader on a journey through the author’s experiences with parenthood.
“She has ruined my life in the best possible way.”
A raw, refreshingly honest, and hilariously funny read, this book begins prior to Ellie’s pregnancy during a period of her life when she was questioning whether she wanted children. It then travels through via various highlights and lowlights including; the pregnancy itself, childbirth, navigating the early days of life with a new-born, and of course, motherhood.
“The child I wasn’t sure I wanted is now everything I could wish for.”
During the intro of her book, Ellie Taylor acknowledges are privileges as a White, Cis woman in a marriage with a Cis man, and later she also acknowledges her privilege when it comes to aspects such as ease of conception and maternal mortality rates (but more on that aspect of the book later.) The author also points out in the introduction that having children is something that happens to people every hour of everyday making truly unexceptional, except, of course, to every parent it feels exceptional.
“As a cis white woman married to a cis white man who were fortunate to conceive naturally, my account of parenthood is undoubtedly limited by my many privileges.”
Taylor’s book is naturally predominately lead by her own experiences of pregnancy, childbirth (in this case via C-section) and being a mother, however, she does also pull anecdotes from other mothers and parents that have been part of her life and these add further depth (and occasionally some comedy) to the narrative.
This is a story told from the heart and there are some truly emotive moments in which Ellie Taylor shares her tales of motherhood with all the grisly, painful, and heart-breaking details. That said, she also successfully manages to ensure that the writing feels easy to connect to and is consistently humorous, and therefore, not a difficult read.
While Taylor can only share with readers her own experiences, she does also delve into some important and series issues surrounding childbirth and parenthood. She briefly discusses miscarriage, relaying the story of a friend who had sadly experienced it, however, for readers who may be impacted by this story, Taylor gives prior warning so that those readers can skip on a few pages to avoid reading.
What’s more, Taylor also draw attention to Black, Asian, Latinx, and POC maternal mortality rates compared to those experienced by White people. While the author does not claim to be an expert, she shares some statistics, facts and emotions and recommends Candice Braithwaite’s I Am Not Your Baby Mother for a more in-depth read from a Black author.
Other issues that Taylor’s book explores are; discrimination and lack of support in the workplace, maternity, paternity, parental and shared parental leaves (in particular with reference to the UK’s policies), the cost of childcare, the physical strain of childbirth, and mental health issues. In regard to the latter, Taylor is open and honest about her own mental health and well-being in the first few days of being a mother, and her words serve as a reminder that these feelings are normal.
Even if you don’t relate to specific stories and scenarios Ellie Taylor and her partner faced in becoming parents, I think every parent can relate to the feelings and emotions poured into the pages of this book as you laugh and sob your way through it.
Catherine Muxworthy, Booksbirdblog
Added 6th October 2021