Review: Why Mummy Doesn’t Give a ****! by Gill Sims

Opening sentence: “The first day back at work after Christmas and New Year is always a bit of a slog.”

Why Mummy Doesn’t Give a ****! is the third in this hilarious series by Gill Sims (I actually still haven’t read the original – Why Mummy Drinks – but really will rectify that soon. I did love book two, Why Mummy Swears though).

I read this over a weekend and it was exactly what I needed: easy to dip into while juggling the demands of my children, and the perfect mix of funny and poignant, so I always looked forward to getting back into it.

Each chapter is a month, so we take a trip through a year in the life of Ellen Russell. It’s a traumatic year for a few reasons: her children, Jane and Peter are now 15 and 13, respectively, and teenagers are always going to cause untold levels of stress. Plus, add into the mix that her husband, Simon has cheated on her and decides he needs a break from their marriage. Ellen is not going to stand and wait for him to call the shots, so she initiates a divorce. Whether this was a hasty move or a good thing, she needs to work out…

As Ellen’s kids are a lot older than my own, Why Mummy Doesn’t Give a ****! also served as a king of guide (warning?) for me about what I have to look forward to (fear) as my boys grow. There is a very descriptive section on the unique stench of a teenage boy’s room, for example… It also delivers the sad news that these phases they are currently going through, ie: when they are being irrational and annoying, are not something that magically stop when they turn five… ‘I’m wondering how many more fucking ‘phases’ I have to endure before my children become civilised and functioning members of society.’

The reasons I enjoy the ‘Why Mummy’ series so much is that although it seems, initially, like it’s just for laughs, it has a great level of poignant and relatable (for me) insight that pulls on your heart strings: ‘In those dark days when they were babies and toddlers, I never thought they’d grow up. I thought they’d be little forever, and God knows, some of those long, long days certainly felt like forever. But all of a sudden, they went and grew up when I wan’t looking.’ It also tackles serious issues in a sensitive way: Ellen is going through her divorce, so it explores her guilt about what she has done, ‘Are we putting our own happiness above that of our children? Should we put up, shut up, live in misery, so they can have a ‘proper’ family?’

I really enjoyed this book, it captured the crazy, contradictory world of parenting in a very funny, yet heart-wrenchingly realistic way.

/ Published by HarperCollins 2019

/ 352 pages

/ Rating: 4/5

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