I first met Maia Dunphy a few weeks ago, at an event where ‘Today’s Mum’ was celebrated and I was taken by her wit, charm and general loveliness. Of course I knew her from the telly. Many of you probably saw her ‘What Women Want’ and ‘The Truth About’ series.
Married to actor and comedian Johnny Vegas, she gave birth to their son, Tom, nearly two and a half years ago and soon after started her blog as an antidote to ‘the pureed pawpaw and kale-chip brigade’ of perfect mum blogs. So when she invited me to the launch of her first book inspired by her blog ‘The M Word’, set up to share her thoughts and experiences of grappling with being a new mum, I was delighted to attend.
How I wish that a book like this had been available when I became a mother for the first time 33 years ago. It would have been far more helpful than trying to live up to Penelope Leach’s exacting standards.
You see Maia Dunphy is not preoccupied with being the perfect mother; she is doing the best she can and that, she claims, is all any new mother can do. This book, like the blog and online forum of the same name is a reality check for all mums out there. There really is no right way, there is only what is right for you and your baby. I needed to know this 33 years ago when I woke my eldest every four hours to feed her during the first few months, with the result that she never slept through the night until she was nearly three.
Delving in and out of the book is easy as it is divided into sections like ‘Pregnancy’, ‘The Early Days’ and ‘Finding your Stride’ and within those sections are short chapters such as ‘Co-Sleeping’ and ‘Booze’ and one of my favourites ‘Not all Kids Are Lovely’.
Post-baby bodies gets a chapter and even though she does not actually say it, you get the feeling that Maia has no time for those mums who rush to get back into their pre-pregnancy jeans.
‘Accept the new you and move on’, she advises. In other words, your body will never be the same again.
She addresses the loneliness of being a new mum and writes about finding like-minded souls. I could relate to this and remembered how isolated I felt thirty-three years ago with a newborn and no friends nearby.
Modern day motherhood is even more competitive than I remember and Maia advises new mothers to ignore all the hype about baby milestones to which I was a slave all those years ago. But my two beauties hit all the milestones early. Of course, she also writes on the difference between being proud and smug. Think I might have been bordering on the latter.
There is plenty to mull over and nothing is sacred. There is a chapter on post-baby sex or lack of that will give you a giggle, and coping with tiredness gets a chapter all of its own.
Juggling motherhood with a career is also touched upon and, of course, the book has a plethora of anecdotes told in Maia’s inimitable style.
Since having a baby, Maia became more of a baby person. I can empathise with that as I was never a baby person until I had my own and then I grew out of it. However, since becoming a besotted granny to Logan, I now coo at and admire other babies all the time.
Make no mistake, this book will have you both nodding in agreement (yes, I can remember that far back) and laughing out loudly. Because as well as being incredibly funny, there is plenty to learn. If you are looking for a present for a pregnant friend or a new mother, this will be far more welcome than yet another baby-gro.