If you feel your choice to trade in your briefcase and camp out at home with the kids resembles moving to a foreign country, then Kathy Buckworth’s latest book is your must-have travel guide.
Kathy turned her “maternity leave into an eternity leave” after the birth of her fourth child. Journey to the Darkside: Supermom Goes Home recounts how Kathy adjusted from the Supermom life, balancing a demanding career in marketing with three children to the relentless, repetitive homer life caring for her four children full-time. Part personal account, part guide, Journey to the Darkside provides some light-hearted yet often honest guidance to career-minded moms for whom staying at home presents a whole new world of challenges.
The journey starts with your decision to get off the supermom track. Expecting life at home to be your new vacation destination right? Wrong. Kathy shares the many ways in which the reality of being an ex-supermom in no way compares to what you may have imagined. Let’s take for example her Top Twenty Annoying Things about Staying at Home. Number 8 was my particular favourite. “Your perceived intelligence drops by at least 50 IQ points. You may have run the computer science department at MIT before you decided to stay at home, but two weeks into the new job and your kids will be asking Dad for help on the family computer.”
Travelling forward the book navigates this new world of over-zealous homer-types. I love Kathy’s analysis here. “A strange new breed of super-stay-at-home-moms has emerged. These women are in the post-career phases of their lives, and their competitive spirit lives on through school volunteering work, soccer team coaching, “playdates,” marathon homework sessions, birthday parties, and general sneering at and bullying of those mothers who dare not to take the stay-at-home role seriously enough.”
Your final destination is reconciling your former identity with your new job description and adapting yourself to kids who, despite your best efforts, have very different ideas about how your “home office” will operate. I particularly appreciated the sections entitled “Where is the Productive in Reproductive?” and “Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back.” Oh and if you’re at all concerned about how your marriage will weather the storm pay particular attention to “Interesting Conversation: An Autopsy (of sorts).”
Journey to the Darkside is a light, easy read filled with Kathy’s signature satirical humour and honesty. I found I spent much of my time nodding my way through this book, if not laughing until my sides hurt. You’ll laugh because you recognize yourself. You’ll appreciate the book because it confirms that you are not the only imperfect ex-supermom or homer on the block. Erica Ehm, creator of the Yummy Mummy Club said it best “You’ll laugh so hard you’ll cry. Then you’ll cry again when you realize she’s talking about you…”
Reading Journey to the Darkside however also left me just ever so slightly uneasy. I was afraid to admit that humour aside many of her less than pleasant observations were often dead on. Kathy is clear that the grass is hardly greener, regardless of what side of the fence you’re on but I think many of us like to outwardly justify our decisions to friends and former colleagues. The title Journey to the Darkside is no misnomer. Kathy leaves her deeper and yes darker thoughts about being at home exposed for all to see.
The same reasons I felt uneasy though were the same reasons readers will appreciated Journey to the Darkside. In order for us to have a good chuckle and feel reassured, Kathy had to leave herself vulnerable, admitting her newly acquired life, her kids and marriage were less than perfect. Not only that but she has managed to make a new career out of being able to laugh over it. Her candor and sense of humour forces those of us who have secretly taken our stance in the mommy war too seriously, to lighten up and have a good laugh at ourselves.
Moms can also appreciate her ability to juggle four children and author three books at the same time. In addition to Journey to the Darkside Supermom Goes Home she has written Supermom a Celebration of all you do and The Secret Life of a Supermom. I always look forward to receiving Kathy’s monthly Funny Mummy column which appears in parenting websites and online magazines across the country (including Newmarketbaby of course) and the U.S.. She contributes to many of Canada’s premier parenting publications and was a driving force behind the newly established Canadian Lit Chicks. She joins author Ann Douglas and several other well-known female Canadian authors at book signings and panel discussions across the province. If that weren’t enough Kathy is now the resident expert of Slice Network’s show Birth Days and makes guest appearances on various local and national talk shows. She sits on the board of the Toronto Symphony Volunteer Committee and is a sought-after guest speaker. Oh, and did we mention she was also the recipient of the Professional Writer Association of Canada Award for Excellence in Humour? Okay all your overly-competitive ex-supermom types; resist the temptation to ask where she finds the time!!
We asked. Kathy says she writes in 20 minutes stints in between picking up and dropping off kids, all of whom are involved in activities like hockey, skiing and dance. Her life sounds so busy you’d think that putting in eight or so hours as a marketing director before coming home to the kids doesn’t sound so hectic after all. But if you put aside all her dark warnings and read carefully you’ll notice she prefaces it but saying the journey is worthwhile– followed of course by her winning brand of wit.
“Staying at home with children is not a career, full stop. It is however an extremely meaningful way to spend your time – and an increasingly brutal blood sport. You’ve just signed up to play. This is your story. A journey to the dark side. Be afraid. Be very afraid.”