Bringing a child into the world is often regarded a beautiful and magical experience, however for many, childbirth also births a depression. Bad Mommy, Stay Mommy is a harrowing collection exploring mental illness after the birth of Horan’s second son and the complexities of motherhood through raw and striking honesty. The poet entrusts the reader with painful truths and does not hold back or sugarcoat her experiences. The reader is taken through the memories of a “skull so / sickened” such as a childhood with an absent father, an incident of rape, and becoming a “Basement Mother” with postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression is still surrounded by stigma and shame is often directed at mothers. Horan does not shy away from sharing this darker side of motherhood, a side that is plagued by feelings of failure and remorse — “Basement mother / stays below so their friends don’t / know of her. Husband will forget in time; / children must move on to survive.” Every word is laced with pain.
The gut wrenching collection concludes on a hopeful note with ‘Stay Mommy’ which I read through teary eyes.
“For although I was a demon in my own right,
wandering through the dust and darkness in
the lonely corners of my mind –
A little angel named you, –
alighted on my shoulder
and softly whispered:
Bad Mommy, Stay Mommy is an eye-opener for anyone who has not suffered these tragedies and a comfort for those who have, for you are not alone in experiencing this pain.