One Mom’s Honest Account of Motherhood
In Swimming for Shore: Memoirs of a Reluctant Mother, Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Laura Ann Mullane gives an unflinchingly honest account of her decision to have children in spite of her many doubts and the struggle to come to terms with her new role as Mom after her son and daughter are born.
Laura was never someone who dreamt her whole life of having kids. While she never ruled out the possibility, it wasn’t a foregone conclusion either. But after her mother-in-law’s sudden death at the age of 56, she and her husband decided to have children. She had a son and, 16 months later, a daughter. Yet after they were born, Laura found herself marveling not at the joy and wonder of raising young kids, but at how impossibly hard it was. “I remember thinking, ‘This is the most rewarding thing I’ll ever do with my life?’, because that’s what I’d always heard,” she said. “But it sure didn’t feel like it.”
She found herself fantasizing about her life before kids and truly mourning for its loss. “I was always outdoorsy—hiking, backpacking, training and competing horses—and none of that was conducive to having young kids. All of that got put on hold, and I was heartbroken. I loved my kids, but I didn’t love being a mom. I didn’t love what my life had become,” she recalled.
At turns both laugh-out-loud funny and gut-wrenching, this memoir explores everything from the high-pressure Perfect Mothers’ Club of the Washington, D.C., suburbs to the guilt and shame that plagued her as she navigated her children’s tantrums and the constant demands of motherhood.
“I wrote this book because I felt so alone in those early years,” Laura said. “I never heard other mothers talk about the deep doubts they had. I figured no one had them but me—that I was some sort of freak.” So Laura wrote an article about it that was published in The Washington Post, and was surprised by the positive reaction she received. “So many moms wrote me saying, ‘I’ve felt the exact same thing, but been afraid to say it.’ So I decided to write a book.”
The memoir details her decision to become a mom and the first three years of her children’s lives in an effort to start an honest conversation about the challenges and very real doubts many mothers face, yet few feel they can say aloud for fear of being labeled a “Bad Mom.”
“I basically wrote the book I wish I’d had when my kids were young,” said Laura. “I really hope it can help other mothers of young children feel less isolated and have more courage to talk openly about motherhood—both the good and the bad.”
This is Laura’s second book. She also co-authored God Sleeps in Rwanda: A Journey of Transformation (Atria/Simon & Schuster, 2009), the memoirs of a genocide survivor who went on to become the speaker of Rwanda’s parliament. The book was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Washington Post Magazine, Hemispheres and Open Skies, among others. She spent the first eight years of her children’s lives in the Washington, D.C. suburbs. Today, she lives in northern New Mexico with her husband, two children, two horses, two dogs and two cats.
The book is available on Amazon in paperback ($9.99) and Kindle ($4.99). Laura is available for interviews; copies of the book are available for review.