Disclaimer: Please note I was approached by the author asking me to review this book, which I accessed through Kindle Unlimited.
M Is For Mother seriously challenged my comfort zone when it comes to my reading choices, and that’s simply because I’m not planning to become a mother any time soon, if ever. So, naturally, reading a memoir about motherhood felt a little strange, but in the end, I found many aspects of the book I could either relate to or learn from.
Alexandra Antipa’s memoir is all the more moving when you learn about her struggles with infertility and how strongly she held on to her hopes once she became pregnant with her daughter. The book covers aspects of the author’s life pre-pregnancy, during, and then after pregnancy, leading to bringing up her daughter to her toddler years. But it’s not a parenting book, necessarily. It’s a realistic and well-documented account of one woman’s experience and profound love for her child, a child she desired for years.
The most relatable and touching elements for me had little to do with the motherhood topic of the book, but either with Alexandra’s nationality, as we are both Romanians. There are subtle and not-so-subtle moments in the book where I knew exactly what she was expressing and what she was talking about when sharing aspects of her childhood in Romania, or how her mother used to advise her with regards to having and raising children.
I could relate to her hospital anxiety after she witnessed her sister giving birth in Romania, under unimaginable conditions to those in the West. I also witnessed my mother giving birth to my brother in not exactly adequate conditions, a day that marked me and made me wary of hospitals. Even if I don’t plan to have children in the near future, the first thought that comes to mind when I think about children is the hospital anxiety. I imagine those who grew up in the West would find it difficult to imagine this specific feeling.
Another great side of the book was the conflict between being a career woman and a mother, a conflict I could, again, relate to, although in my case it’s mostly a conflict between being a boss woman and a house woman. I like responding to my motherly and housewife-y (for lack of a better word) instincts every now and again. I love cooking for my boyfriend when he has a hard day at work. I love looking after him and after other people in my life, like my brothers and friends. I enjoy mundane chores and I like embracing my femininity. On this level, M Is For Mother truly spoke to me, as it subtly spoke about the pressures society places on women nowadays to be somewhat disconnected from some of our specific instincts and embrace the bossy, independent, modern female form that’s now more acceptable.
But possibly the most heart-warming and most enjoyable aspect of Alexandra Antipa’s memoir was that it helped me understand some of my own mother’s feelings and behaviours towards us. My mum also dealt with infertility before she had me and that’s why she was able to have my brother only 13 years later — a pregnancy she was strongly advised against at the time. As I read, I felt like connecting to my mother on another level and learning about her possible emotions, which I could never understand, not being a mother myself. Alexandra’s love for her daughter, so eloquently, so candidly explained even through the simplest gestures reiterated in the book deeply reminded me of my mother’s behaviour towards me growing up.
I don’t know if chance made it that I found my mum so similar to Alexandra, that they’re both Romanian and were brought up under the same culture and values, or that I chose to associate the two, but it felt comforting and eye-opening to find out about the reasoning behind a mother’s (sometimes unexplainable) attitudes towards their children.
Regardless if you’re a mother, planning to become one, or motherhood is not in the cards for you at all, I strongly recommend M Is For Mother, if only just to connect to your own mothers, to find out more about women’s hidden struggles with society’s standards, or just because you enjoy a good, moving memoir. Thank you Alexandra for reaching out and pointing me to your story.
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