Drunk Mom: A Memoir by Jowita BydlowskaDrunk Mom: A Memoir by Jowita Bydlowska

Drunk Mom: A Memoir

byJowita Bydlowska

Paperback | April 23, 2013

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Three years after giving up drink, Jowita Bydlowska found herself throwing back a glass of champagne like it was ginger ale. "It's a special occasion," she said to her boyfriend. And indeed it was. It was a party celebrating the birth of their first child. It also marked Jowita's immediate, full-blown return to alcoholism and all that entails for a new mother who is at first determined to keep her problem a secret. 

Her trips to liquor stores are in-and-out missions. Perhaps she's being paranoid, but she thinks people tend to notice the stroller. Walking home, she stays behind buildings, in alleyways, taking discreet sips from a bottle she's stored in the diaper bag. She know she's become a villain: a mother who drinks; a mother who endangers her child. She drinks to forget this. And then the trouble really starts.

Jowita Bydlowska's memoir of her relapse into addiction is an extraordinary achievement. The writing is raw and immediate. It places you in the moment--saddened, appalled, nerve-wracked, but never able to look away or stop turning the pages. With brutal honesty, Bydlowska takes us through the binges and blackouts, the self-deception and less successful attempts to deceive others, the humiliations and extraordinary risk-taking. She shines a light on the endless hunger of wanting just one more drink, and one more again, while dealing with motherhood, anxiety, depression--and rehab.

Her struggle to regain her sobriety is recorded in the same unsentimental, unsparing, sometimes grimly comic way. But the happy outcome is evidenced by the existence of this brilliant book: she has lived to tell the tale.
JOWITA BYDLOWSKA was born in Warsaw, Poland, and moved to Woodstock, Ontario, as a teenager. She eventually learned English well enough to try writing in it. She writes a popular parenting blog, and her work has appeared in an assortment of magazines, newspapers and online publications, including Salon and The Huffington Post.  She liv...
Title:Drunk Mom: A MemoirFormat:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 8.24 × 5.5 × 0.84 inPublished:April 23, 2013Publisher:Doubleday CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385677804

ISBN - 13:9780385677806


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Broke my heart I (mistakenly) read this book when I had newborn and it broke my heart reading about all the important, once-in-a-lifetime things she missed out on with her baby. I cried many times reading this book. I hope Jowita has beat her demons down and can live the rest of her life in peace.
Date published: 2017-11-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Raw Bydlowska caught my attention - I couldn't put it down.
Date published: 2017-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Raw and real...simply amazing I have read this book three times now and each time I get more out of it. A very moving, sometimes shocking, sad, frightening account of a flawed life and the attempt to repair it. Amazing and brave.
Date published: 2015-09-30
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Drunk Mom I was expecting to find somewhat of a story about this woman and her family but chapter after chapter all she talks about is numerous trips to the liquor store. It is very boring and poorly written.
Date published: 2014-02-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Raw and real...simply amazing Excellent read! You both life and gate Jowita.
Date published: 2014-01-25
Rated 1 out of 5 by from DRUNK MOM This book is GARBAGE & I threw it in the garbage. Save your money
Date published: 2013-12-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An emotionally powerful memoir While reading this for a class I found myself not being able to put it down, but it also made me feel extreme emotions which forced me, at times, to put the book down. Overall, it's a fantastic read and I would recommend it to just about anyone!
Date published: 2013-12-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Addiction Memoir I've read other memoirs about addiction, and like most of these memoirs, this book was at times hard to read. The madness of addiction gets to me, the honesty when the addict is down and in deep, the harm, the destruction. I can't read a book like this all at once, I have to temper it with lighter reading. Because even though I'm not an alcoholic...the feelings and thoughts and experiences that Jowita Bydlowska writes about...they come awfully close to the core. Yeah...good writing...it got to me.
Date published: 2013-10-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Drunk mom Very well written a most explanatory description of what goes on in the mind of an alcoholic. Being a spouse and mother of alcoholics often leaves me confused and questioning sanity this book helped.
Date published: 2013-08-15
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Sickening experience I've never before FINISHED a book to which I gave ONE STAR. In all my reading-rating life -- since 1964 (I had my own system long before Goodreads or LibraryThing came along) the only one stars (far from finished) were Naked Lunch-Wm Burroughs and Thief's Journal-Jean Genet. I don't even have time for two star books unless its for a friend or book club. This however I'll never forget. To the bowels of hell with a NEWBORN BABY that means less to her than a plush teddybear - although she wakes up some towards the end. DISSOCIATIVE? Like you've never encountered! I don't even feel sorry for her. I hate her. She has no depth, no awareness, no true appreciation of her good fortune (just a bit of lip service mainly in the acknowledgements), definitely no graciousness, and even more definitely no writing ability. Making her massive shortcomings even more stark is the fact that I very recently read Anne Lamott's book on the very same subject: "Operating Instructions: a journal of my son's first year". Poor Hugo, poor (& rather unfathomable) Russell. Lucky Sam Lamott. It takes a village. Be careful which one you choose.
Date published: 2013-07-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book An easy, nread keeps you involved, bring it to the beach
Date published: 2013-06-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow What a very honest story.
Date published: 2013-05-25
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Drunk mom Terrible book, read it in an hour.
Date published: 2013-05-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Worthwhile Read Actual rating = 3.5 There are a few things wrong with this book - First, I know the book is called Drunk MOM, so the focus is on the year after her son is born when she relapses, but it would have been nice to have had more of a backstory as to who Jowita is and how she has found herself in the position she was in 2009-2010. She says many time that this story is "not the TV show Intervention", but what makes that show so compelling is that you are with the addict in present time but also get a (re)view of their past life, so you get a more complete picture of the addict as a person outside of the chaos of their addiction. Bydlowska gives you hints that she has been a caretaker to her younger sister after they arrives in Canada from Poland, but never any details about where her parents were or why they aren't a bigger part of her life now. Second, it often feels as if Bydlowska is trying to prove to the reader that her son was actually safe at all times, even when it is obvious he was not. She often gets blackout drunk while acting as his primary caregiver, but always makes sure to point out that although she was a mess, the baby was still not put in any harm. This is not a judgement on her behaviour - she has obviously admitted that she has a problem, and throughout much of the book admits that she made one poor decision after another, but trying to constantly prove that the baby was ok seems to only serve to make herself feel a bit better about the whole situation. Now to what is good about this book. I genuinely found it to be un-putdownable most of the time. Bydlowska writes with such candor about so many things, showing just how far addicts go to justify their actions and behaviours to themselves and everyone else, and how easy it can be to make excuses and deny that a problem exists. She talks about how the notion of suffering from postpatrum depression as a "luxurious term", that normal women wouldn't behave like her so she isn't able to excuse her behaviour in that way - showing how addicts often believe is is something morally wrong within themselves causing them to behave the way they are, instead what really may be the problem. She talks openly about how aware she is that this is a problem that she will be dealing with for her whole life, and how terrifying that prospect is. Her relationship with her boyfriend, the father of her baby, revolves around the mutual, unspoken understanding that if they don't talk about the drinking problem then it doesn't really exist. At first Bydlowska considers this a blessing, as it allows her to continue drinking, but slowly starts to wear on her, as the lies, spoken and unspoken, become stifling and ultimately unbearable. I really consider this a worthwhile read, and would recommend it to anyone who read and enjoyed A Million Little Pieces (scandal or no scandal) or really any addiction based bio.
Date published: 2013-01-11

Editorial Reviews

“It’s really very intense, a very brave, very complicated story. It’s a difficult book, and I found my jaw on the floor, which doesn’t happen that often to me. I love the way that she approaches prose—I think it’s really beautiful.” —Lena Dunham“While the title suggests a simple autobiographical autopsy of motherhood marred by alcoholism, Bydlowska’s memoir delivers far more—a human portrait of the disease . . . the author and her addiction [speak] to each other in a tragic duet.” —The New York Times Book Review"I am adhered to the misery memoir and can say that Bydlowska did it perfectly. She floated over her personal landscape like a drone and then dropped ordnance on herself. As for the why, she wrote one shattering page towards the end about human pain, hers. She’s a Canadian writer headed for even more greatness." —Heather Mallick, Toronto Star “It’s a bestseller in her adopted homeland Canada… brilliantly written but painful to read.” —The Times (UK)“[M]aternal tippling is a trendy topic on ‘mom’ blogs... But these chirpy, jokey accounts don’t touch the dark spiral of addiction Toronto writer Jowita Bydlowska relives in this riveting account... Bydlowska is an evocative, talented and gutsy writer who appears willing to confess all…  Bydlowska writes of watching other upscale stroller-pushing moms and wondering: do they hide mickeys in their diaper bags too? With this bracing book, others will now be asking that question as well.” —Maclean’s‘[A] gifted writer, and a courageous one… Without glibness, without self-pity, knowing that she risks being judged, Bydlowska tells her story…. Luckily for those reading her story, she possesses a wickedly dark sense of humour.” —The Gazette, Montreal“It is a memoir that pushes at boundaries – what is private, what should perhaps be kept private, what we need to know, what we don’t, what is insightful or just exhibitionism.  [O]ne of the most talked about books of the season... “ —The Globe and Mail.“To understand this story in the guise of an addiction memoir is to misunderstand its worth…. Instead, this book is fresh within the context of a parenting memoir, one of a particular kind: A counterculture parenting memoir.  [It] stands as an uncommonly perceptive chronicle of what it means to be an intelligent, urban parent trying to hold on to the rest of her life. As a writer she’s got some chops.” —National Post“A compelling, raw look at her struggle with alcoholism, the addiction that swallowed [Bydlowska] after the birth of her son.” —Elle“[She] eschews the touchy-feely language of recovery ... The cool yet raw efficiency of Bydlowska’s prose, a testament to her successful journalistic career, repudiates indulgence of any kind. This detachment is what makes Drunk Mom both a painful yet paradoxically effortless read.” —Literary Review of Canada“Drunk Mom is a stunning, harrowing read.  Why harrowing?  Not just because of the dramatic story, of a new mother at the edge of her tether.  And not only because of Jowita Bydlowska’s skill as a writer, and the crisp, original way she tells it.  What’s most harrowing about Drunk Mom is that you can’t stop reading it—this, the dark, now-told tale that lurks in the shadow of every seemingly normal family.” —Ian Brown, author of The Boy in the Moon  “A brave, brilliant and scathing self-portrait.  Full of energy and insight. If Frida Kahlo had been a writer, she might have been compared to Jowita Bydlowska.” —Patricia Pearson, author of A Brief History of Anxiety – Yours and Mine.  “Fearless and troubling, and so very humane, Bydlowska explodes the cutesy momoir genre. You'll read it in one sitting." —Katrina Onstad, author of Everybody Has Everything."This is quite simply not just another addiction memoir. It's something truly special. I felt this book. It carries the reader. It whispers. It really is can't-put-it-down great!" —Stefanie Wilder-Taylor,  author of I'm Kind of a Big Deal: And Other Delusions of Adequacy.“Jowita is matter-of-fact, funny, fearless, and irreverent as she lifts the veil to chronicle what it means to be a young mother when both baby and mother have their own bottles -- the shame and the inner voices, as well as the joy and relief. This book is for anyone who has ever struggled to make it through a day.”—Laura Albert, a.k.a. JT LeRoy, author of Sarah, The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, and Harold's End“Jowita Bydlowska, to steal a phrase from Hemingway, writes hard and clear about what hurts. And man oh man can she write! …In my decades as a lover of books I've written only two fan mails. One of them went to Jowita Bydlowska. Thank you, Jowita, for Drunk Mom – for its rawness, for its clarity, for its bravery.” —Angie Abdou, Fernie Fix“Drunk Mom is a discomforting read. Its bare-naked honesty about addiction and families will make a lot of people uncomfortable. . . . It’s by far one of the best memoirs that I’ve ever read, both for its candor and bravery and for her narration.”—The Frisky