As I’ve said before, go ahead: write it. Get it out. It’s like the boogie-woogie in a Johnny Lee Hooker number…. It in you, and it got to come out. But why in the name of God are you turning around and rushing to publish it for sale? Oh, right, stupid people and their money. The Millions is already making fun of you.
It’s been almost two years since Hannah gave up her career in publishing to raise her daughter, Olive, and three years since she put on anything besides maternity jeans. Her pelvic floor sags like a hammock and she can’t remember the last time she didn’t smell like curdled breast milk or didn’t stay up until two a.m, leaving snarky comments on various Mommy message boards. But all this seems frivolous now that she and her husband, Ben, are quarantined with Olive in their cramped Brooklyn apartment as the coronavirus brings New York to its knees. When Ben isn’t locked in the bedroom making his glitchy conference calls for work, he’s riding anxiety attacks about the state of the world and begging Hannah to don their single dingy surgical mask and gloves to pick up yet another box of Honey Nut Cheerios. With nothing to do but occupy Olive and appease Ben, Hannah feels her sanity crumbling. Then she misses her period. Faced with another possible pregnancy, she can’t stop thinking about the episiotomy she begged for when Olive was born, and which she and Ben are still paying off via their health insurance’s installment plan; how when she masturbates, she can’t get fellow BabyCenter user MomtoMaddox447 out of her head; how Olive looks so much like Ben that Hannah wants to vomit; that sometimes she imagines cutting off her own arms and legs and hoisting her bleeding torso into her rollaway suitcase and zipping it up (with her teeth) and rotting there forever. And how all this is better than her old publishing job where she was regularly expected to kiss the egomaniacal asses of Bookstagrammers who never read the novels they posed next to succulents and mugs of bone broth. What if she contracted coronavirus, just to be alone? What if she went to buy cereal and never came back? In the tradition of Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation and Lydia Kiesling’s The Golden State, with a soupçon of Ali Wong’s irreverence and Cardi Bi’s social media sass, Stay-at-Home Mom is an unflinching and pitch-perfect portrayal of motherhood during our biggest contemporary crisis. Ask yourself, are you a good mom?