Authors Lyranda Martin Evans and Fiona Stevenson. Photo by Gustavo Gonzalez.
Reasons Mommy Drinks tidily sums up how life changes when you become a new parent in the chapter titled 9 pm: “Nine o’clock used to be a dinner reservation. Now it’s a bedtime.” Given the book’s title, I met authors Lyranda Martin Evans and Fiona Stevenson for drinks at the Park Hyatt bar on the eve of TIFF– but sometimes the only drink mom is interested in is a strong espresso. Martin Evans and Stevenson order cappuccinos, apologizing that they’ve got more work to tackle that evening, but not before spending time with their two-year old children.
Published by Three Rivers Press, Reasons Mommy Drinks is a series of short, humorous essays charting the every day life challenges of a new mom in those first 18 months from labour, “Mommy screams her way through eight hours of Zero Dark Thirty torture, much to the horror of the entire B wing,” to the babysitter, “Mommy can’t believe she’s going to pay a teenager $40 to sit in her living room texting her boyfriend.” Each chapter offers an appropriately named cocktail suggestion, such as the “Mommy Monitor System” (pairs beautifully with a state-of-the-art baby monitor, complete with LCD night vision) to compensate for those nine months when mommy couldn’t drink. The cocktails are rated using a pacifier rating system. As the book states, “The rating does not indicate the number of drinks needed… Mommy is not a hillbilly.”
Motherhood and drinking is a hot topic right now. This week Denise Balkissoon argued in the Globe and Mail why A few drinks while pregnant isn’t bad, but the new maternal puritanism is, while Jowita Bydlowska recently chronicled her struggles with alcohol in Drunk Mom. Are Martin Evans and Stevenson making light of a critical issue? “This book is humour — fun, fictitious and entirely for laughs,” says Stevenson. She believes moms today put pressure on themselves to do the best job possible. “We hope our book can provide some well-deserved comic relief.” Martin Evans explains the drinks recipes, which include non-alcoholic concoctions, are for comedic bonus, driving the joke of each entry home. “Oh, you got poo in your hair today while changing a diaper? This calls for a Mudslide!” says Martin Evans.
Friends since the ninth grade, Martin Evans and Stevenson conceived the idea of writing Reasons Mommy Drinks while on maternity leave — “With all that free time we thought we’d have,” they quip. “Before the baby was born I read everything I could get my hands on,” says Martin Evans. “I had What to Expect, I had my baby centre apps.” But the writers say they couldn’t find the kind of light-hearted material they wanted to read. Martin Evans explains, “You’re in the nesting phase, picking out cribs, and it would be nice to have some levity.”
The authors worked in compatible industries, Martin Evans as an award-winning copy writer and Stevenson a brand marketer. The pair drew on their work expertise in launching Reasons Mommy Drinks as a blog in January 2012. The authors knew they needed a hook to attract readers in the crowded bloggershere. “There are 3.9 million mommy bloggers in North America,” says Stevenson, “We both work in the business of ideas and we knew we could write something that was truthful and funny.” That hook was, as Martin Evans explains, “A play on the universal feeling of ‘Arg! I need a drink!’” Martin Evans also drew on her experience as a bartender in her 20’s and the authors added an extra layer of humour by creating cocktail recipes to accompany each post.
Readership quickly spread through word-of-mouth. Martin Evans and Stevenson were profiled in Metro and nominated by Yummy Mummy Club as one of 24 Mom Blogs You Should Be Reading. Within six months, an agent had seen their work and suggested it would make a great book.
Reasons Mommy Drinks is a new wave of parenting book, like Go the F*ck to Sleep, where parents admit how hard child rearing is and treat it in a self-depreciating way. “I’d rather be compared to Bossypants,” says Martin Evans. “It’s comedy that strings from truth and real insight,” she says. The authors say their book is fiction, although some of that insight came from their own experiences. “I remember people saying, ‘Oh by the way you will call 911 in the first week,’” says Stevenson. “And I actually did.”
Reasons Mommy Drinks is a reflection on life for what the authors refer to as the “millennium mom,” who capture their child’s early years on their iPhone, attend mommy and me yoga, and covert that Scandinavian rocking chair they spied on Pinterest. The authors hope the book will somewhat prepare new moms for what lies ahead with a dose of humour and an optional cocktail. “We’re not parenting experts,” says Stevenson. “We just love [our kids] and we’re trying to do the best thing.”
Amanda Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer whose work has also appeard in The Grid, Toronto Star, and Up! Magazine. Follow her on Twitter at @leeamandaj.