Saturday Excerpt: Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan
Looking for a read you can relate to? Get ready to take a look at motherhood in this week’s excerpt, taken from Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan.
About Confessions of a Domestic Failure:
From the creator of The Honest Toddler comes a fiction debut sure to be a must-read for moms everywhere
There are good moms and bad moms—and then there are hot-mess moms. Introducing Ashley Keller, career girl turned stay-at-home mom who’s trying to navigate the world of Pinterest-perfect, Facebook-fantastic and Instagram-impressive mommies but failing miserably.
When Ashley gets the opportunity to participate in the Motherhood Better boot camp run by the mommy-blog-empire maven she idolizes, she jumps at the chance to become the perfect mom she’s always wanted to be. But will she fly high or flop?
With her razor-sharp wit and knack for finding the funny in everything, Bunmi Laditan creates a character as flawed and lovable as Bridget Jones or Becky Bloomwood while hilariously lambasting the societal pressures placed upon every new mother. At its heart, Ashley’s story reminds moms that there’s no way to be perfect, but many ways to be great.
Aubrey’s ear-piercing cry rattled over the baby monitor, yanking me out of a deep sleep.
My eyes f luttered open. I looked at my phone’s clock. No, no, no, no, no.
I’d dreamt I had a full staff: a nanny, butler, housekeeper and full-time masseuse. The laundry mountain of shame that lives permanently on my living room couch had vanished, and in its place, eighty-one bottles of delicious exercise wine. What’s exercise wine? It’s a wine that, when consumed, stimulates your muscles, resulting in rock-hard abs. While my nanny, who wasn’t hot enough to be a threat, played with Aubrey on the f loor, I enjoyed sip after mouthwatering sip and watched my kangaroo-pouch stomach tighten into a washboard.
Another scream over the monitor.
I don’t know whose grandmother I dropkicked into a well in a previous life to have an eight-month-old who regularly wakes up before the sun, but I wanted to apologize. I glanced at my darling husband, David, who was sleeping soundly.
I watched him breathe deeply and suppressed the urge to smother him with a pillow. How was it that he could hear me adjusting the thermostat from two rooms away but could sleep through the ear-stabbing howls of our eight-month-old every morning?
“I know you’re faking,” I whispered, trying to call his bluff.
I threw my legs over the side of the bed and bent down to find my trusty black stretch pants. They’re the same ones I’d been wearing for the past two, three, maybe six days. They didn’t smell bad, they smelled…rich with character.
After making my way to the bathroom, I splashed a bit of water on my face, hoping the H20 would magically fade the
dark circles around my eyes. I glanced into the mirror and
was surprised to see Medusa staring back at me, but instead of snakes coming out of my head, there was just a ratty po- nytail. I ran my fingers through the mess and cringed. If my hair got any greasier, I’d be able to stand outside on a hot day and cook breakfast on it.
I was exhausted. My back hurt. My head hurt. My eye- lashes hurt.
I tried to remember when my last good night’s sleep was. It had to be when I was six months pregnant. That’s when the heartburn kicked in. Did I say heartburn? I meant boiling hot lava. Flaming acid rain. Whatever it was, it meant I had to sleep sitting up in bed while Aubrey Riverdanced on my bladder. If there was any justice on Earth, women would take the first twenty-week shift of pregnancy and men would take over for the last four-and-a-half months. But based on how a common head cold transformed my husband from a thirty- five-year-old man to a ninety-six-year-old granny with ma- laria, I wasn’t sure he’d make it through one day with child.
Another angry scream shot through the baby monitor.
“I’m coming. I’m coming,” I whispered, dabbing at my face with a towel. I stared at my tired reflection in the mirror. When Aubrey was finally born, every ounce of throat- searing bile was (mostly) forgotten as I looked into her adorable little face covered in that weird, white marsh scum* infants are born with. I wish someone had warned me about the vernix situation. Maybe then I wouldn’t have screamed, “IS SHE A LEPER?” in front of two nurses, the doctor and a team of horrified interns. David teased me for weeks. Every time I’d hand her to him, he’d make a cross with his fingers and yell,
She really was a beautiful baby. Or I thought she was. Everyone thinks their newborn is a looker when the truth is, 99.99 percent of them look like Groucho Marx.
I looked down and noticed that the pants I had slipped on in the dark featured a large hole in the crotch. A custom air vent, I rationalized.
It was almost impossible to believe that two years ago my mornings started with a ridiculously long shower as I got ready for work at Weber & Associates. I was a rising superstar in the marketing world. Back then, my mornings revolved around my intricately detailed makeup routine, dressing in trendy but professional skirt suits, and the vanilla latte and egg, cheese and ham croissant that I’d devour on my commute. Now breakfast consisted of whatever finger-food scraps Aubrey doesn’t eat and peanut butter on a spoon while standing up with my face in the pantry. This wasn’t how I pictured motherhood at all. In my motherhood fantasy, I’d wake up at 7 a.m. and float into my still-sleeping baby’s designer periwinkle-and-slate nursery (with a plum accent wall—like in Real Simple’s Fall issue). Everything in the spotless, clutter-free baby sanctuary would be made by obscure Etsy artists living in the woods in Oregon, Italian designers or handmade by yours truly. You’d be able to feel the oak knots in the crib. They’d tell a story.
While my baby slept, I’d sit in her custom-made organic bamboo-and-pine rocking chair and write her a poem every day. She’d treasure these poems for her entire life and eventually turn them into songs. She’d win armfuls of Grammy Awards while I, an old but hot grandma, cheered her on from the star-studded audience. I can already see the award show camera go from her, in a beautiful gown on stage giving her acceptance speech, to me, tearfully clapping for my baby girl. She’d blow me a kiss, I’d catch it, and people around the world would be inspired by our mother-daughter connection. “How did she raise such an amazing young woman?” they’d ask themselves.
I’d wear stylish but casual clothing: white sundresses and practical but fabulous strappy Bohemian wedges. I’d save the skinny jeans for playdates.
Speaking of playdates, I’d be invited to so many of them that I’d be turning them down. “Sarah, I’d love to pop by, but I’m making organic applesauce and canning tomatoes from my garden today, sorry!”
I’d have one of those cute planners to keep all of my events straight—a pink leather-bound agenda with a matching pen that I’d keep in my fantastic diaper bag. The fantastic diaper bag that I’d never forget at home.
Aubrey would wear nothing but 100 percent organic cot- ton matching separates, lots of delicate vintage lace and those $60-a-pop suede booties in every color. I’d visit the farmers’ market daily and sniff loads of fresh fruit, vegetables and local honey before selecting the items that would become the rustic, delicious dinners that I would Instagram to the delight of my hundreds of thousands of followers.
My meals would be beautiful and epic. People on Facebook would stare in admiration at the photos of my homemade Bolognese with handmade pasta. I’d definitely have one of those countertop pasta-drying things that look like they’re for hanging miniature laundry.
Obviously, I’d cook while wearing seasonally themed aprons with Aubrey warm and cozy in the baby wrap I got at my shower a year ago and that I have yet to learn how to put on. David would brag to all his friends about how natu- rally I took to motherhood and how he always knew I’d be a great mom.
My reality? Aubrey screams me awake at 5 a.m. every morn- ing and I’m about six months behind on the laundry that’s tak- ing over my living room like some kind of poisonous mold. Forget about all of the cute outfits I thought I’d be putting my firstborn in. Every day my daughter wears one of four pairs of footie pajamas. She can’t even walk and the feet are getting worn out from use. Two of them are stained: one from a dia- per blowout (since when does infant poop stain?) and another from red wine (don’t judge me). I wear the same three pairs of black yoga pants and a rotating army of stretched-out tank
tops that can barely contain my jiggly muffin top.
Two weeks ago in the grocery store, an elderly woman looked us up and down, shook her head and handed me $20. I wanted to yell, “We’re not homeless. I’m just too tired to care!” but she’d already turned down the baked goods aisle.
My thoughts were interrupted by another howl over the baby monitor as I hurried to pee. I finished up and washed my hands more slowly than I should have, savoring the last few moments of my day alone.