Bunmi Laditan’s novel Confessions of a Domestic Failure provides a rare and bitingly funny look into the life of a new mother in today’s society. The tedium and tragedies of young motherhood are treated with humor, yet much of what Laditan writes is a little too real and a little too close to home to be truly comedic.
Ashley Keller is a first time mom to a beautiful baby girl. And she’s in way over her head. She has very little support from her family, her husband is gone all the time, and she has no mom-friends to lean on. All she seems to be able to find is judgment and criticism. Worst of all is her own judgment of herself, which stems from her impossibly high standards for motherhood and domesticity.
When the opportunity comes to join the “Motherhood Better” contest, hosted by a well-known mommy blogger, Ashley jumps at the chance, thinking it will help her become the Pinterest perfect mom she aspires to be and help her find a community in the process. Instead, she runs herself even more ragged trying to accomplish the weekly challenges, and fakes her results to gain acceptance with the other mommies. Things come to a head when her husband’s business takes a nosedive, her marriage unravels, and Ashley is exposed for the mother that she is–messy, exhausted, and far from “perfect”.
The concept for the book is a wonderful one. It’s rare to find a novel about the drudgery and hardships of motherhood, and Laditan’s humorous approach is perfectly on point. Her novel brings into sharp focus the ironies of motherhood–the unrealistic expectations mothers place on themselves, the negative reaction that society often has to its youngest members, and especially, the way other mothers contend with and criticize each other instead of banding together.
Unfortunately, despite its humorous tone, Confessions of a Domestic Failure is more tragic than comic at its core. Ashley Keller’s story is the story of too many young mothers–alone, unsupported, exhausted, and floundering in this terrifying new world of raising a tiny human. Her struggles with apparent postpartum depression, her inability to find a community of supportive mothers, and her self-imposed standards of impossibility are too relatable and far too common. It is a sad truth that many women feel most alone and most lost at the time when they most need support and community.
Confessions of a Domestic Failure is an excellent, poignant read that can provide others with insight into the life and struggles of young mothers of today. But despite a number of laughable moments, the story that Laditan tells is no joking matter.