Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Motherhood Martyrdom & Costco Runs is a nonfiction collection of humorous stories about life, written by Whitney Dineen. The author is the mother of two young daughters who do not treat her as the queen she had always expected her children to treat her as, but who rather see themselves as royalty elevated to her level -- which she actually kind of admires about them. Much of the action in this memoir takes place, as one would expect from the title, at Costco where provisions, free food samples and ice cream sundaes punctuate anxious and repeated visits to Costco restrooms, moments of serenity spent admiring, and counting, the wall of toilet paper and generally reveling in the orderliness and organization which is apparent in every aisle and on every shelf in that vast, echoing warehouse. Motherhood came relatively late in life for Dineen, whose ambition to be a young, cool mom yielded to the vagaries of nature and the realities of the excruciating torment and unexpected rewards implicit in raising two small children. Each of her essays brings the reader more fully into the lives of her and her two daughters as they navigate their passage through childhood together. And while Dineen makes no bones about having a disorderly house at times and harboring a visceral dislike for those perfectly coiffed and clothed young moms who seem to have it all together, one can’t help but get the feeling that her two little girls won the parent jackpot.
Whitney Dineen’s nonfiction memoir on parenthood, Motherhood Martyrdom & Costco Runs, is dedicated to “all you breeders out there.” Having no plans to ever fall into that category, I wondered at first how involved I could possibly get with the theme of this collection. I had read and reviewed several of the author’s other works and enjoyed them, however, and found myself looking forward to reading this nonfiction offering -- in spite, or perhaps in defiance of the title. But as I read this disarming, honest and hilarious book, my thoughts invariably went back into the past to my tenth grade English class. Mrs. S was brilliant, funny and the consummate English teacher and mentor. In between getting us to appreciate Shakespeare, O’Neill, Dickens and Wilder, Mrs. S painstakingly taught us how to properly fold and read the New York Times and other full-sized newspapers, and introduced us to William Safire and Erma Bombeck. Bombeck’s world was indeed an alien thing, based upon my experiences as a teen, but somehow she bridged that yawning chasm so effortlessly as she shared her world view with me and demonstrated how easily she could get me to laugh and care along with her. Mrs. S and Erma would probably get the biggest charge out of Motherhood Martyrdom & Costco Runs. It’s beautifully written and a joy to read, even the parts that are embarrassing for some Victorian throwbacks like the author’s husband. While the title and even the dedication seem to imply a specific subsection of the public may want to read this, I’ll beg to differ and recommend it to everyone, breeders, non-breeders, even those whose sense of humor is somewhat challenged, as mine is. Dineen works a bit of magic here in this authentic, inspiring and very human collection of humorist writing. Motherhood Martyrdom & Costco Runs is most highly recommended.