Why Mummy Swears by Gill Sims
Opening sentence: “I have one week till the summer holidays begin.”
Why Mummy Swears is a year in the life of exasperated mum of two, Ellen Russell. I had a smile on my face from the first page, put simply: It’s just really, really funny. It might be because I am a mum, although my children are a lot younger than (Ellen’s children) Peter and Jane, but so many scenarios were still all-too relatable. From her random thoughts (mainly about otters) to the situations she find herself in (accidentally running the PTA) we follow Ellen as she goes back to work full time, while still trying to be the best mum to her kids.
For the past few years there has been a refreshing trend across social media to give a warts-and-all view of motherhood. Bloggers such as The Unmumsy Mum and Hurrah for Gin are faves of mine for both their realism and humour. Mums are not always #blessed, of course you love your children and are so happy to have them, but sometimes it’s just really bloody hard work! This is exactly what Why Mummy Swears covers, but the crucial reason this book works so well is that is it not a bitter account of motherhood, it has heart and reason, ‘although sometimes you could cheerfully throw your precious moppets out of the window (or deny their existence at work), equally you would never give a second thought to literally tearing limb from limb anyone who dared to even think about causing them any sort of harm.’ It captures that confusing, frustrating feeling that seems to creep into your consciousness on most days spent with your kids and, for me, that was why it was such a great read.
Something that really got me thinking was when 11-year old Jane declares, ‘I know I am meant to be a famous YouTube star, I just know it!’ She has her heart set on being a social media influencer and this – I accidently discovered – is a scary reality. I was at my son’s nursery and the older class had a, ‘When I grow up I want to be…’ board on the wall. The answers were the traditional doctor, teacher, unicorn, but then I spotted that 3 children had actually written YouTuber. As in, that was what they wanted to be… Not hyperbolic characters in a books, real kids. I am still shocked by this. How old are my kids going to be before the pull of social media gets to them?? How will I keep them safe etc. Parenting today really does bring a whole new set of issues to deal with.
I also loved this book for tackling the issue of working mums, ‘there is a definite undercurrent of irritation about how dare she try to be a mother and work as well.’ Ellen even goes as far as pretending she is childless to her colleagues to avoid discrimination. Too many women struggle to find jobs that are flexible enough once they become mothers – it’s not like having children is a rare occurrence, and it’s crazy that the working world does not accommodate for this. Women are penalised for going on maternity leave and then for wanting to (shock, horror!) still have a career and raise their children. There is a actually a fab blogger – Mother Pukka, who created Flex Appeal – a campaign to get companies to realise the importance of flexible working. It’s so good to see working mums tackled in a novel like this – it’s such an important issue. The ludicrous situation many women find themselves in when trying to go back to work after having a child needs to be called out and changed. So good on Why Mummy Swears for championing that!
Yes, on the surface this is a really funny book, but it also touched on some serious issues about parenting and working parents that need to be discussed. It gave unexpected depth to it that made it even better. Oh, and special mention to the Heather Shimmer reference. Any book that has a nod to this iconic lipstick is always going to get top marks from me. Why Mummy Swears is the sequel to the 2017 bestseller, Why Mummy Drinks – I haven’t actually read that one yet, but am adding it to my TBR list as I type this.
I was kindly sent this book in exchange for an honest review. Published 12 July 2018.