Mother, Mother: What makes you a parent.

From Left to Write is an online book club where the members create a virtual discussion about the book and how it relates to their lives. I love the concept of this for a few reasons. It takes the school concept of a book report out of the equation completely and it gives readers who haven’t read the book a way to relate to the topics portrayed within the book.

This post is not a traditional review, but I am using my personal experiences and using a theme within the book as a writing prompt. The second book for September is Mother, Mother: A Novel by Koren Zailckas.


The book is about a controlling mother, a missing sister, and a father who doesn’t seem to care. Told through the voices of the other children, Violet and William. I will say that Koren’s writing is very dark, I read her previous hit Smashed when it first came out, so I was used to this type of writing, but for those who aren’t it can be shocking.

What struck me about this book, was when Violet had a realization, just because you have a baby doesn’t make you a mother. This is a statement that a lot of people reserve for fathers/dads, very rarely do you hear it said about mothers. Most people think that women have this immediate turn from woman to mom as soon as they are pregnant or have a child.

While a lot of women do feel that way, not all women do. For men it is accepted among society, but if a woman feels a disconnect with her child it is unheard of.

Part of this, I think, is because there are many more pressures than there were 30 years ago. With the internet, you can read stories and see photos of people from all parts of the world and how they are interacting with their children. Oh, and Pinterest. Pinterest makes the perfectly wonderful parent feel like a completely inadequate parent. You didn’t throw your child a theme first birthday party, and hand make all the food, decorations, and clothes yourself!? How terrible of you!

This isn’t the stuff that makes you a parent. As long as your child is loved, cared for, fed, and warm, does the path on how we get there matter? Some of us thrive with the baby stage, and some of us thrive with the toddler stage. Some have amazing birthdays for their children, and some of us are okay with buying store decorations (that’s me) and calling it a day.

What do you think makes parents feel inadequate? What is something that you think makes a wonderful parent?

DISCLAIMER: A controlling mother, a missing daughter, and a family who is desperate for love. This post was inspired by the the psychological thriller Mother, Mother by Zoren Zailckas. Join From Left to Write on September 19 as we discuss Mother, Mother. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

12 thoughts on “Mother, Mother: What makes you a parent.

  1. Pingback: Book Club Day: Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas

  2. i didn’t read this book so that makes this post all the more interesting to me. i like dark writing (hello gillian flynn) so maybe i should pick this up. very interesting point about pinterest making moms feel inadequate. i look at social media from a standpoint of having to look out for comparison traps about food and exercise. but there’s a whole other class of comparison traps out there!

    • It is so true, the expansion of social media means there are so many ways to compare yourself. Sometimes when I see it done right, I wish Pinterest was around when Nick and I got married, but 99% of the time I am so glad it wasn’t!

  3. Excellent point about Pinterest. And in some ways, it almost corrupts motherhood by making mothers feel like if they can’t bake a 12 layer cake, DIY Halloween costumes, and be the “fit” mom, they’ve somehow failed. No. Not true. Great parents are the ones who show up. I always appreciated my dad coming to my baseball games, and my mother having mandatory family dinners.

    • I definitely agree. While some excel at the 12 layer cakes and showing up. We just have to find our balance and not let pinterest make us feel inadequate.

  4. As a mother who has survived 19 years with her daughter, it is all about the quality of time you spend with your child. I love pinterest for their ideas but you have to keep in mind that no one is good at everything.
    As a therapist, I always find it interesting that dad’s roles are accepted as hands off but sometimes a mother is hands off and the guilt that goes with it is incredible. It is so true that a child feeling loved is the most important and we all have different ways of showing that love.

    • Thank you for weighing in, Shanna! I always get overwhelmed with the birthday ideas, and even with things I know I am great at (baking cakes), I’d rather not have the stress and spend the money so that I can spend time with my loved ones!

  5. Nothing – no amount of money, things or Pinterest parties – can replace the feeling a child gets when they know that their parents are really paying attention to them. Some of the best ‘parties’ my kids and I ever had were when we headed off on a walk, just talking, walking, and being together. I get so frustrated when I see parents that say or act like they don’t have time for their kids – that they can push off the responsibility. It’s just not fair.

    • Yes, sometimes the best parties are the small intimate ones where it is all about being together and not throwing the best party.

Leave a Reply