Under the name “Emily Writes” and via her own blog, and more recently as editor of the Spinoff’s Parents section – with stints for The New Zealand Herald and Women’s Weekly along the way – Emily has found her voice as a writer of columns, personal essays (often in vignette form) that aim to explain her situation, her family, the way it is in her home – with two children and a loving, supportive husband. These pieces, gathered here in book form – and showing a huge strength when bound in this way – are judgment-free and, ultimately advice-free.
This is a collection of stories, of pleas, of prayers, of thoughts which as the subtitle tells us were written “from one tired mama to another” – for the parent up at 4am with worry in their head and love in their heart but frustration on the brow this is the book you can turn to; this is a book written in/from exactly those conditions.
These posts – little missives, 4am help-calls and celebrations – are sad and joyous and proud and knowing and lovely. They are not patronising nor condescending. They are filled with the wisdom of observation, positioned only as the stories that have happened to one person, in one family. They are honest and real, sometimes a little heart-breaking, most often very funny.
As a fan of Emily’s writing and a regular follower of her various blogs and columns I was of course looking forward to the book but wasn’t sure I’d need to read it. In fact there’s such a vital strength in having these blog posts gathered, in binding they support and enrich and strengthen one another, as is the idea around “community”; something Emily has built through her site and writings and her editing and selection in both this book and in her work at Spinoff Parents and in the roles she occupies always as a mother: as a community-minded support person, activist, organiser and public speaker.
Rants In The Dark is funny and honest and real – it will, I’m sure, be a comfort to new and expectant mothers; a parenting book that can be passed around groups, shared between parents, given to anyone who has ever offered some version of the cliché: “I’ll never read a parenting book”. This isn’t actually any sort of Parenting Book, rather a book written by a parent. One who happens to be a very good writer as well.
Rants In The Dark is also the journey of Emily finding her voice as a “Mummy Blogger” or “Parenting Writer” or whatever the term is – a mother who cares and worries and wants to share the story of how and why you carry on, dotting it with humour and sadness and little stories of hope as well as frustration.
It gave me flashbacks to my earliest days in the role of parent – clueless, but enthusiastic – and there are stories here that mirror some of my current frustrations – still enthusiastic, a little more jaded.
I like to imagine a world where this book is given to new mothers – handed to them as not just essential reading but as a comfort. Maybe we can start that world off by buying a copy for the new mothers in our lives, the friends and family members with little kids or baby-bumps or thoughts of being along the way one day.