When I was pregnant, I heard about a book called The Idea of You. The premise sounded a little strange (a mother meets the members of her daughter's favorite boy band, then strikes up an unlikely romance with the band's frontman), but the reviews were so glowing, I had to give it a try. I bought the book... and, in the chaos of preparing to welcome twins, forgot all about it.
I found the book tucked away nearly two years later and thought Well, I might as well read this now... and as I reached the halfway point of the novel I thought to myself, Wow. I am so happy I lost track of this novel and discovered it when I did. Because it all hits so, so differently now that I'm reading it as a mother.
Of course, this isn't the only book that resonates so differently when you read it after having children.
These books will make you feel so seen as a mama, mama.
It's hard for me to really get into the "why" of this without revealing a major plot point, but I can say this: The book does a beautiful job of capturing how motherhood affects the way we view ourselves as women.
The Idea of You's protagonist and narrator, Solene, is a gorgeous, stylish, self-possessed, successful woman, yet she clearly feels it—that feeling of invisibility, of getting lost in motherhood and being seen by the world as only one thing.
At one point, when her teenage daughter tells her she "doesn't look like a mom," Solene thinks to herself: "There were so many things I wanted to teach her. That being a mother did not have to mean no longer being a woman. That she could continue to live outside the lines. That forty was not the end. That there was more joy to be had."
Instead, she asks her daughter if she is a mom, and when the answer is "Yes," Solene says "Well, then, this is what a mom looks like." And it's perfect.
I'm so glad this was made into a Hulu miniseries—not just because it was a great watch, but also because it put the novel of the same name back on my radar. This book really explores so many concepts of motherhood.
What makes someone a mother? What makes someone a good mother? Again, it's tough to really expand on how these questions arise without giving things away, but let's just say this is a book that'll leave you thinking a lot about the enormous responsibility of being a mother and how deeply our circumstances affect our abilities to do right by our children.
Everything Emily Giffin writes a fantastic, but this one tells such a beautiful (yet extremely unconventional) mother/daughter story. While you may not be able to relate exactly to the plot, I think it'll really hit home in an emotional way. I read this before having kids and look forward to re-reading it and discovering new nuances I didn't pick up before.
Admittedly, this is one I have not read, but it's definitely on my list. It tells the complicated story of a mother and her children's babysitter... and as mamas, we know how tough it can be to navigate the relationships we build with the people who care for our children. This will definitely be a tense read.
There's a strong cultural component here, but this multi-generational mother-daughter story will resonate globally. If you're a person who often felt misunderstood by your own mother, only to become a mother yourself and realize you're more like her than you ever imagined (raises hand), this one is for you.
I'll give you fair warning: This one can be unsettling—I was particularly unnerved by it because it is actually set in the town in which I live. But the story of a mother who finds her world turned upside down after her daughter disappears briefly at the local park, then reappears with a puncture mark on her skin, is packed with can't-put-down tension... and the way it touches on society's incredibly harsh judgement of mothers? Spot on.